General Information

​Introduction to Madagascar

Madagascar boasts 5,000 kilometers of coast, is 592,000 km² wide, and its highest peak is Mount Maromokotra which is located 392 km off East Africa’s coast. The geography of the island is relatively simple. From North to South, high reliefs and a series of lake basins run through the center. Erosion is variably important, having created spectacular sites such as Isalo. The coast is rather different from one side to the other.  In the East, it is narrow, due to the fact it is trapped between the edge of the Central Lands, sometimes referred to as “the cliff”, and the Ocean.  In the West and the South, reliefs progressively decrease in slope to the level of a wide plain, which is often interrupted by large majestic rivers. Madagascar, the “small continent” is surrounded by a multiplicity of islets, some of which are grouped in archipelagos.


Madagascar is renowned as the country of Ancestors’ Cult. In the traditional belief, ancestors or Razana continue to be present and acquire more authority because they are closer to the Creator or Zanahary. In some regions of the South, tombs are real mausoleums painted with bright colors, and where sadness is nowhere on the agenda. Funerary stelae are lively and realistic pieces of art.


Long before the people of the North discovered the Indian Ocean and the Southern Pacific, important migration fluxes had already taken place there; several of them included Madagascar as a stop-over or a destination. In the context of the evolving melting pot resulting from migration, social groups took the habit of defining themselves in relation to their environment.


Nowadays, the population counts a little less than 20 million inhabitants, split between 18 ethnic groups and a multiplicity of social sub-groups.

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