Madagascar - The Traveller


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Monday, August 18, 2014



Madagascar Gained Independence in 1960

Madagascar is located in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of Africa and opposite Mozambique. It is the world’s fourth largest island after New Guinea, Greenland and Borneo and is twice the size of Arizona and gives way to a central plateau due to its country’s low lying coastal area. The Malagasy are believed to be descendants of Africans and Indonesians who settled there over 2000 years ago. The people of Madagascar gave much importance to their dead and spend a lot of effort on ancestral tombs which were opened from time to time so that the remains could be carried out in procession before they were again re wrapped in fresh shrouds. Madagascar got independence in 1960 after a harsh French colonial rule which included the bloody suppression of an uprising in the year 1947. Poverty and competition for agricultural land put immense pressure on the islands’ disappearing forest which was home to most of the unique wildlife as well as a good means of tourist industry. The island had strong ties with France and economic as well as cultural links with the French speaking West Africa. The seizure of power in 2009 by Andry Rajoelina left the island isolated by international community and they were deprived of foreign help.

Isolated from Neighbouring Continents

The island was quite isolated from the neighbouring continents and due to its isolation one will find most of the mammals, birds and plants here, which do not exist anywhere else in the world. The island has five percent of all known animals and plant species here. The fauna and flora is matched by beautiful landscapes of great diversity and one can go from rainforest to desert in about 300 km. It is heavily exposed to tropical cyclones bringing in torrential rains with destructive floods, leaving thousands homeless like in the case of 2000 and 2004 incident.The people of Madagascar are considered to be patriotic and when they gained independence from France, the Malagasy changed a lot within the culture and languages and returned back to their original customs and traditions. Presently, Malagasy language is the language spoken by around 98% of the people and since 1972; Malagasy language is used as the teaching language in some of the schools though some of them are quite fluent in French which is widely spoken except in certain rural areas while German and English is spoken by a minority of people like the guides and municipal workers.

Malagasy – an Austronesian Language 

An interesting thing about Madagascar is that the people of that island speak one language which is Malagasy, an Austronesian language. Besides being the name of the language, Malagasy is also referred to people of the island and since the island is massive, there are several different dialects. The Merina dialect for instance is the `official Malagasy’ of the island which is spoken around the highlands of Antananarivo and majority of the Malagasy speak Merina on the island. The second official language of Madagascar is French where large corporations and the government use French in their daily business though 75 -80 percent of Malagasy have maintained a limited proficiency in this language. Efforts have been done by foreigners to learn and speak Malagasy which is encouraged and appreciated by the people of Madagascar.

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