Welcome to Madagascar

Our country is best known for its weird and wonderful wildlife. Here, you can learn about the animals that make our island special and perhaps explore some of the things you didn't know about Malagasy society. We hope you enjoy your visit!

History & Politics

Finding its political feet

For many centuries, Asian, Arab and African settlers shaped a unique community, until Madagascar was colonised by the French at the end of the 19th century. In modern times, the island has struggled to find political stability.

Agriculture & Famine

A quarter of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is undernourished and famines can impact whole regions.

Land is available to grow more food locally, but investment is needed in  technologies such as irrigation for land to be used effectively. Farmers must also adapt to climate change if they are to feed the continent's rising population.

Tourism & Communications

A unique island

The best way to appreciate the diversity of Madagascar’s unique environments is to travel around the island, though journeys can often be long and eventful.


Africa is a massive continent, with a range of climates. Some regions are hot and dry, like the Sahara, Kalahari and Namib deserts. Other parts are wet or covered in tropical rainforest. Conditions also vary by altitude, from the dry salt pans of the Danakil Depression (one of the lowest points on earth) to the snowcaps (at certain times) of the highest mountains. Weather-wise, Africa has it all!


Islands apart

You've probably met the best-loved of all Madagascar's animals in the movie, but did you know that they can't be found anywhere else in the world?


Around one in six children born in sub-Saharan Africa don't live to see their fifth birthday and life can be tough for those who do.

What are the common challenges facing African children and how do their lives compare with those of children in the UK?


A woman’s status varies by country and region across Africa. In many parts, women struggle against inequality in laws, education, pay and domestic responsibilities.

Women’s health is also at risk from traditional practices such as early marriage. But with better education, girls can make more informed choices, leading to the greater development of African nations.

Madagascar Map

Explore Madagascar

Madagascar is most famous for its lemurs. You will have seen these cute, cuddly creatures in the animated movie, but did you know there are over 100 species and subspecies of them?

This map shows you some of Madagascar's key locations, including the capital city, Antananarivo. You can also see the Rainforests of the Atsinanana situated along the island's east coast, as well as other national parks.


Africa has a high number of communicable diseases, which place a huge burden on healthcare systems. The vast majority of malaria cases and HIV/AIDS-related deaths occur in Africa; these two diseases currently represent the greatest threats.

With low investment in healthcare and a severe shortage of medical staff, many countries struggle to meet the health needs of their people.

People & Culture

A distinctive culture

The Malagasy people have a rich and distinctive culture, which incorporates a belief in the importance and power of dead ancestors.


Joining the club

Ceremonies form a big part of Malagasy culture. Many, including the circumcision ceremony, take place in the early years of life and symbolise a child's passage into Malagasy society.


The first humans are thought to have lived in Africa and powerful African empires formed from the medieval age onwards.

However, today's African nations were shaped by the European powers who colonised this vast continent. Having gained their independence, many African countries are still coming to terms with the legacy left by their colonisers.


‘People are the real wealth of a nation.’ This is the belief of the United Nations, whose Millenium Development Goals provide a framework for improving the lives of millions.

It helps when nations are peaceful, stable and growing economically. But where even the poorest countries focus on health, education and creating fairer societies, more Africans have the chance of a better life.


A rice nation

Rice is the staple food of Madagascar and many meals are based around a heap of the fluffy stuff.

Climate & Agriculture

An island of parts

Madagascar lies almost entirely within the tropics (except for the southern tip below the Tropic of Capricorn), but because of its various terrains, different parts of the island experience very different weather at the same time.

Sports day

Sports Day

Children in Madagascar look forward to their sports day, which happens on the second day of school for the children in the video.

Games & Sport

Africa is home to arguably the oldest-recorded games and sports. While some are only known through archaeology, modern-day games and sports such as Mancala/Mankala and Nubian wrestling are very much alive today.

Of course, new sports have come along to claim the attention of Africans. You may have heard of one - it's called football.

Economy & Industry

A stagnant economy

Madagascar’s economy has seen little growth over the last few years due to political instability, but it is hoped fresh elections will bring new investor confidence.

Education & Jobs

Poor primary results

Less than two-thirds of children in Madagascar pass their end-of-primary school exam, due to poor-quality teaching and the high number of pupils who drop out because their families can no longer afford their education.

Poverty & Healthcare

A poor nation

Poverty is widespread across Madagascar, affecting the health of the country’s children; over half of under-fives suffer from stunted growth, one of the highest rates of stunting in the world.

Unusual wildlife

Weird and wonderful

Thanks to its geographic isolation over millions of years, many of Madagascar’s animals are wonderfully unique.

Facts & Figures

A large island

Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island (after Greenland, Papua New Guinea and Borneo). At 587 thousand square kilometres, it is around the same size as Kenya (582 thousand sq km), but has a population half as large, at 22 million (compared with Kenya’s 43 million in 2012).

Geography & Wildlife

With its varied geography and diverse habits, the African continent is home to a wide range of flora and fauna. Though famous for its 'big game' animals, Africa has huge numbers of fish, mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and insect species, as well as many tree, plant and flower species.

Children's Stories

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Across the rest of the world, absolute poverty has halved over recent decades, but in Africa it has barely fallen.

About two-fifths of the population of sub-Saharan Africa survive week by week on what someone in the UK earns from just one hour's work on the minimum wage.

Welcome to Madagascar

Madagascar is perhaps most famous for its lemurs. But while these kooky little creatures make the world's fourth-largest island a very special place, there's more to Madagascar than just its lemurs.

Here, you can discover some key facts about Madagascar, learn more about its history, and find out how it got its name!

Food & Daily life

A rural way of life

The majority of Malagasy live in rural areas and rely on fishing or subsistence farming, where they grow food for their own families.


A paradise lost?

Madagascar's forests once covered the majority of the island. Today, only 10% of their original coverage remains. Is there hope for the future?


Africa has some of the most distinctive cuisines and flavours in the world. Food varies widely, but there are commonalities across regions. Depending on what's grown locally, dishes are also influenced by the traders, immigrants and rulers who settled across the continent. Arab, Asian and European elements blend in with traditional African cooking.

Geography & Wildlife

A Noah’s Ark of an island

Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island, breaking free of any other land around 65 million years ago. Having evolved in isolation for millions of years, its plants and animals are unique, and include the island’s best-known mammals, the lemurs.

Madagascar topics Facts & Figures Poverty & Healthcare Food & Daily life Forests People & Culture Geography & Wildlife Climate & Agriculture Ceremonies Lemurs Welcome to Madagascar Unusual wildlife Economy & Industry Rice Education & Jobs Children's Stories History & Politics Sports day Madagascar Map Tourism & Communications