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Madagascar

Highlights in Madagascar

Geography of Madagascar

Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world. There are four geographical zones alongside the 5000 km coastline: The Central Highlands, the North, the West and the South-west. The Central Highlands make up around two thirds of the entire island. The highest point of the Highlands is Maromokotro which is the highest mountain on Madagascar at just under 3000 m. The Southwest is the driest part of the island. The vegetation in this area is made up of succulents, baobab trees, and a spiny forest in the south. This spiny forest is considered one of the most fascinating biotopes on the planet. Around 60% of the plant life in the area is endemic, and the majority have spines to protect themselves against herbivores. In contrast to the dry south-west, the East is covered by tropical rainforest. Sadly, the Madagascan rainforest is under severe threat from slash and burn tactics and illegal trading in tropical wood. The Masoala Rainforest is the largest contiguous rainforest area on Madagascar. It is one of the rainforests of the Atsinanana, which UNESCO have placed on its list of World Heritage in Danger sites.

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Geomorphology/Geology

In former times, the island was part of the supercontinent Gondwana before Madagascar and India were separated from the African continent. After it was also separated from India, Madagascar´s flora and fauna started to develop independently. Along the coast, basaltic material can be found as a consequence of the separation of the plates. In the western and northern regions of Madagascar, bizarre rock formations can be found that are called Tsingys. Tsingys are karstic plateaus with sharp-edged, sometimes even needle-like rocks that were formed due to weathering and the influence of groundwater on the former limestone. Moreover, the red soil is characteristic for Madagascar. The colour derives from the mineral laterite that is a product of intensive weathering in tropical zones and contains mostly insoluble residues with aluminum and iron minerals.

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Travel Tipps and Trivia for Madagascar

Climate in Madagascar

The climate in Madagascar varies with the elevation of a region. Overall it can be said that the climate is tropical and mostly hot like in the northern region of Madagascar, whereas it can be colder in the highlands, especially in the months of the African winter. The eastern part of the island has tropical climate with a lot of rainfall throughout the whole year. In contrast to that the southern region is the driest of Madagascar.

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Flora and Fauna in Madagascar

About one fourth of all monkey species worldwide and also various endemic species in flora and fauna live in Madagascar. The best known animal in Madagascar is probably the nocturnal lemur of which there are several species on the island. The smallest species is the mouse lemur with a body length of about 8 cm whereas the biggest one is the endangered indri that can reach a body length of almost one meter. In general these animals climb from tree to tree and only at rare occasions leave the safety of the heights.
Besides the lemurs eight predator species live in different habitats on the island of which the fossa is the biggest one with 35 cm in size and a weight of up to 10 kg. Furthermore, the island is home to several amphibians and reptiles like chameleons, over 250 different species of frogs, snakes and crocodiles like the Madagascar boa or the Nile crocodile. Along the coast it is possible to see sea turtles and rays.

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Social Geography of Madagascar

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