By Shanuka Kadupitiyage
Ceylon Today Features
If you liked animated movies, you might have heard of the country we are going to learn about today; Madagascar. Perhaps you may have heard about this beautiful island from the very popular movie of the same name. Sadly though, the movie talks very little about what the island is like in real life.
The Republic of Madagascar, also called the Malagasy Republic is an island-country to the east of the African continent, in one corner of the Indian Ocean. Its main island is the fourth largest in the world, but if you look closely you’ll see a bunch of other islands which are also part of the country.
Of course, there’s a lot to learn about. So let’s dive right in.
If you’ve been reading Scribbler for a while, you would know about a super-continent that existed a long time ago called Gondwana. Just like that, Madagascar is said to have broken off from what is now India around 88 million years ago.
Separated from other bodies of land, the wildlife in Madagascar has been able to evolve for a long period of time without any outside influence. Because of that, Madagascar has some of the most unique wildlife in the world.
And that wildlife lives in a gorgeous land that is very unique. Madagascar is home to central highlands, grassy plains in the west and plenty of other amazing landscapes.
Madagascar experiences a monsoon season much like we do as well, rain clouds which form in the middle of the Indian Ocean get blown in by the south-eastern trade winds and reach the eastern coast, feeding the rainforest ecosystems there.
All that rain feeds the ecosystems of Madagascar, nourishing some of the most unique wildlife in the world. Around 90 per cent of the country’s plants can’t be found anywhere else in the world. That includes creatures that you might have seen from the movies such as the Lemurs and the Fossa among many others including birds, reptiles and fish.
But Madagascar is a country that is need of help in conservation. Humans didn’t live on the island up until around 2,000 years ago, and since then, human activity has been a major threat to the ecological balance of the island. Madagascar has lost a number of its major species such as the Elephant Bird, and a bunch of giant lemur species. But there’s still hope. People are working hard to turn things around and there have been success stories. Maybe one day the sad story can turn into a happy one.
People and culture
Of course, that depends on the people of Madagascar. These are a diverse group of people that have an interesting history. The first settlers found the Island while sailing the seas. Some came from the African continent while others sailed from the South East Asian region, across the Indian Ocean.
As civilisation developed, Madagascar grew to become a kingdom with its own governing system. But that was toppled over when the French took over and colonised the country. Although Madagascar did gain Independence later, they have experienced some troubling times when it comes to ruling the country. Things have settled down now, but the economy is still pretty bad. But the country is slowly improving.
There’s a lot to learn about the people of Madagascar and their culture. In fact, all you’ve read is the introduction. Now it’s your turn to go and look for information about the beautiful country of Madagascar.