COUNTRY QUICK FACTS
Name: Republic of Madagascar. An island nation located in the Indian Ocean, off the eastern coast of Africa (east of Mozambique).
Time: +3 GMT
Size: 587, 040 km² with a coastline of 4828 km. Madagascar is slightly less than twice the size of Arizona and is the world's fourth-largest island. Madagascar has 6 provinces which consist of Antananarivo, Antsiranana, Fianarantsoa, Mahajanga, Toamasina and Toliara.
Geography: The east coast of Madagascar has lowlands leading to steep bluffs and central highlands. The Tsaratanana Massif in the north has volcanic mountains. The west coast has many protected harbors and broad plains, while the southwest is a plateau and desert region.
Biodiversity: Madagascar is the home to 5 percent of the world's plant and animal species, greater than 80 percent of which are endemic to Madagascar.
Climate: December to March is the cyclone season and could bring storms and cyclones, adverse weather could occur outside of this period.
Population: Around 22, 585, 517 (2012 est.) The vast majority is a blend of Malay, Polynesian and African ancestry, with two small minorities of Indian or French origin.
Currency: Madagascar Ariary (MGA)
Credit Cards: Credit cards are not widely accepted in Madagascar, they are sometimes accepted in the main cities, hotels and larger restaurants. MasterCard is NOT at all accepted outside of Antananarivo. It is recommended you do not rely on your credit cards for payment, it is recommended you have enough cash with you to cover the needs of your stay.
Languages: French & Malagasy. The primary language spoken in Madagascar is Malagasy followed by French. English is not spoken outside of major hotels and tourist attractions.
Public Holidays: In addition to the public holidays below, Good Friday and Easter Monday, the following public holidays are recognized.
- 1 January - New Year's Day
- 29 March - Commemoration Day
- 1 May - Labour Day.
- 26 June - Independence Day.
- 15 August - Assumption.
- 27 September - St. Vincent de Paul's Day.
- 1 November - All Saints' Day.
- 25 December - Christmas Day.
- 30 December - Anniversary of the Republic of Madagascar.
- 26 June - Independence Day.
Electricity: 110V and 220V.
Banking: Monday to Friday 08h:00-11h:00 and 14h:00-16h:00
Economy: Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is a mainstay of the economy. Major exports are coffee, vanilla, sugarcane, cloves, cocoa, rice, cassava (tapioca), beans, bananas, peanuts and livestock products. The Malagasy economy took a brief downturn during the 1980's when Coca-Cola, the world's leading purchaser of vanilla, switched to the New Coke formula that contained synthetic vanillin. The situation reversed itself when the company reintroduced its classic formula.
National Parks & Reserves: Ankarana Reserve: Ankarana Reserve is a small vegetated plateau in northern Madagascar with elevations that exceed 1220m (4000ft) above sea level. Ankarana has the highest density of primates of any forest, many different species of lemurs call it home. It's composed of 150-million-year-old limestone. With an average annual rainfall of 1, 800 millimeters (70in), the underlying rocks are susceptible to erosion, thereby producing caves and underground streams. The rugged relief and the dense vegetation have helped protect the region from human intrusion.
The plateau slopes gently to the east, but on the west it ends abruptly in the "Wall of Ankarana", a sheer cliff that extends 25 km (15 miles) north to south, and rises as high as 280m (920ft). To the south, the limestone mass breaks up into separate spires known as tower karst. In the center of the plateau, eons of rainfall have dissolved the limestone away in deep gorges, and sometimes re-deposited it in ribbons of flowstone. In places where the chalky upper layers have been completely eroded, the harder base rock has been etched into channels and ridges known as tsingy.