Madagascar

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Madagascar is an island country in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Southeast Africa. The nation comprises the island of Madagascar (the fourth-largest island in the world), as well as numerous smaller peripheral islands. Following the prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, Madagascar split from the Indian peninsula around 88 million years ago, allowing native plants and animals to evolve in relative isolation. Consequently, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90% ofits wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. The island's diverse ecosystems and unique wildlife are threatened by the encroachment of the rapidly growing human population and other environmental threats.

Holidays and Festivals

Pop culture is seen in vibrant Madagascar holidays and festivals throughout the year all over the country, with many events attracting a significant number of tourists. The celebrations are based on a variety of traditions ranging from holy days to cultural rituals and national holidays, with the Santabari festival and Donia Music Festival two of the favorites.


New Year’s Day

The Malagasy people celebrate New Year’s Day along with the rest of the world from midnight on December 31 through January 1. Family visits, eating out and street parties mark the occasion.


Alahamadi Be

Alahamadi Be is Madagascar’s traditional New Year’s Day, which takes place in March and lasts for two days. Crowds hit the street in celebration, homes are decorated in lights and friends and family visit to wish eachother well. Traditional music and dance plays a part in the festivities.


Martyrs’ Day

Also held in March on the 29th, Martyrs’ Day commemorates the 1947 rebellion against French colonial rule which eventually led to Madagascar’s independence after thousands of lives had been lost. The day is a public holiday in which the dead are memorialized for their sacrifices.


Easter

The most important Christian festival of the year, Easter falls either in March or April, and is marked by religious services at Madagascar’s many churches and cathedrals.


Santabary Festival

The Santabary Festival is ancient in origin, and takes place in late April/early May to give thanks for the year’s first rice harvest. Eating, drinking, traditional music and dance are all part of the celebrations, and local customs vary across the country.


Labour Day

Labour Day, held on May 1, is a national holiday, with city folks taking the time to visit the countryside and beaches for picnics and a day of relaxation.


Independence Day

Independence Day in Madagascar is June 26, a national holiday which commemorates the country’s final shaking of colonial rule. It’s celebrated all across the archipelago with feasting, drinking, music, and dance.

Feria Oramena

The carnival atmosphere of Feria Oramena held in June focuses on Madagascar’s favorite seafood, lobsters. Shows, exhibitions and lots of fish dishes are enjoyed by all.


Fisemana

The Fisemana festival, held by the Antakarana people, is a purification ritual taking place every June. The customs go back centuries and are performed by local soothsayers.


Famadihana

This traditional event, known as the turning of the bones, is a three-month family-oriented ritual beginning in June in Madagascar. The bodies of recently-passed family members and ancestors are taken from the crypt, re-dressed in silk shrouds and reburied.


Hiragasy

This much-loved July event is a traditional form of entertainment in Madagascar, first seen in the 18th century. Competing players perform a five-themed spectacle of oratory, dance, music, drinking and eating contests amid much merriment.


Donia Music Festival

Held in September at the Hell-Ville Stadium on Nosy Be Island, the Donia Music Festival is a combination of Malagasy music, sport and cultural events. The festivities last for a full week and draw in over 40,000 spectators.


Madajazzcar

October’s Maddajazzcar is a massive, two-week long celebration of jazz held in venues all over the capital. International musicians, singers and thousands of visitors attend the events.


Christmas Day

The second major Christian festival in Madagascar, Christmas is a time of church services, Yuletide parties and family festivities across the country.

Places to visit

Did You Know?

1. Most of Madagascar’s wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth

Madagascar has been an isolated island for around 70 million years, breaking away first Africa around 165 million years ago and then from India nearly 100 million years later. This isolation led to the development of a unique flora and fauna, with 90 percent of its wildlife found only in Madagascar. Among its extinct mammals were giant flightless birds and dwarf hippos.
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2. Poverty in Madagascar

Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in Africa. The people in this territory face many problems including poor health care, a poor educational system, economic problems and malnutrition.
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3. Deforestation

This island has lost more than 80% of its original forest land since humans arrived on this place about two thousand years ago.
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Currency

In the currency of Madagascar. It is subdivided into 5 iraimbilanja and is one of only two non-decimal currencies currently circulating (the other is the Mauritanian ouguiya). The names ariary and iraimbilanja derive from the pre-colonial currency, with ariary being the name for a silver dollar. Iraimbilanja means literally "one iron weight" and was the name of an old coin worth 1⁄5 of an ariary.

The ariary was introduced in 1961. It was equal to 5 Malagasy francs. Coins and banknotes were issued denominated in both francs and ariary, with the sub-unit of the ariary, the iraimbilanja, worth 1⁄5 of an ariary and therefore equal to the franc. The ariary replaced the franc as the official currency of Madagascar on January 1, 2005

Things To Do

Despite a high potential for tourism, tourism in Madagascar is underdeveloped. Madagascar's tourist attractions include its beaches and biodiversity. The island's endemic wildlife and forests are unique tourist attractions.However, historical sites, craftsmen communities, and relaxed cities make it a favorite with return travellers.


Madagascar has been isolated from the African landmass for approximately 165 million years and its flora and fauna evolved in isolation from that time onwards.The island is one of the world's most biologically diverse areas, and is internationally renowned as a wildlife tourism and ecotourism destination, focusing on lemurs, birds, and orchids.More than half of the island's breeding birds are endemic.Other native species include the red-bellied lemur, the aye-aye, and the indri (the largest lemur species).

One of the best places to observe the indri is the Analamazoatra Reserve (also known as Périnet), four hours away from the capital.The presence of the indri has helped to make the Analamazoatra Reserve one of Madagascar's most popular tourist attractions

Important Cultural Aspects

Each of the many ethnic sub-groups in Madagascar adhere to their own set of beliefs, practices and ways of life that have historically contributed to their unique identities. However, there are a number of core cultural features that are common throughout the island, creating a strongly unified Malagasy cultural identity. In addition to a common language and shared traditional religious beliefs around a creator god and veneration of the ancestors, the traditional Malagasy worldview is shaped by values that emphasizefihavanana (solidarity), vintana (destiny), tody (karma), and hasina, a sacred life force that traditional communities believe imbues and thereby legitimates authority figures within the community or family. Other cultural elements commonly found throughout the island include the practice of male circumcision; strong kinship ties; a widespread belief in the power of magic, diviners, astrology and witch doctors; and a traditional division of social classes into nobles, commoners, and slaves.


Malagasy people traditionally consult Mpanandro ("Makers of the Days") to identify the most auspicious days for important events such as weddings or famadihana, according to a traditional astrological system introduced by Arabs. Similarly, the nobles of many Malagasy communities in the pre-colonial period would commonly employ advisers known as the ombiasy (from olona-be-hasina, "man of much virtue") of the southeastern Antemoro ethnic group, who trace their ancestry back to early Arab settlers