The Madagascar Portal
Madagascar (; Malagasy: Madagasikara), officially the Republic of Madagascar (Malagasy: Repoblikan'i Madagasikara Malagasy pronunciation: [republiˈkʲan madaɡasˈkʲarə̥]; French: République de Madagascar), and previously known as the Malagasy Republic, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately 400 kilometres (250 miles) off the coast of East Africa. At 592,800 square kilometres (228,900 sq mi) Madagascar is the world's second-largest island country. The nation comprises the island of Madagascar (the fourth-largest island in the world) and numerous smaller peripheral islands. Following the prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, Madagascar split from the Indian subcontinent around 88 million years ago, allowing native plants and animals to evolve in relative isolation. Consequently, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90% of its 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.
The archaeological evidence of the earliest human foraging on Madagascar may date up to 10,000 years ago. Human settlement of Madagascar occurred between 350 BC and 550 AD by Indianized Austronesian peoples, arriving on outrigger canoes from present-day Indonesia, where the contemporary social and religious situation were that of Hinduism and Buddhism, along with native Indonesian culture. These were joined around the 9th century AD by Bantu migrants crossing the Mozambique Channel from East Africa. Other groups continued to settle on Madagascar over time, each one making lasting contributions to Malagasy cultural life. The Malagasy ethnic group is often divided into 18 or more subgroups, of which the largest are the Merina of the central highlands.
Until the late 18th century, the island of Madagascar was ruled by a fragmented assortment of shifting sociopolitical alliances. Beginning in the early 19th century, most of the island was united and ruled as the Kingdom of Madagascar by a series of Merina nobles. The monarchy ended in 1897 when the island was absorbed into the French colonial empire, from which the island gained independence in 1960. The autonomous state of Madagascar has since undergone four major constitutional periods, termed republics. Since 1992, the nation has officially been governed as a constitutional democracy from its capital at Antananarivo. However, in a popular uprising in 2009, president Marc Ravalomanana was made to resign and presidential power was transferred in March 2009 to Andry Rajoelina. Constitutional governance was restored in January 2014, when Hery Rajaonarimampianina was named president following a 2013 election deemed fair and transparent by the international community. Madagascar is a member of the United Nations, the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. (Full article...)
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Lemon and mango pickles (achards
) traditionally accompany meals in the northwestern coastal regions of Madagascar.
Malagasy cuisine encompasses the many diverse culinary traditions of the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar. Foods eaten in Madagascar reflect the influence of Southeast Asian, African, Indian, Chinese and European migrants that have settled on the island since it was first populated by seafarers from Borneo between 100 CE and 500 CE. Rice, the cornerstone of the Malagasy diet, was cultivated alongside tubers and other Southeast Asian staples by these earliest settlers. Their diet was supplemented by foraging and hunting wild game, which contributed to the extinction of the island's bird and mammal megafauna. These food sources were later complemented by beef in the form of zebu introduced into Madagascar by East African migrants arriving around 1,000 CE. Trade with Arab and Indian merchants and European transatlantic traders further enriched the island's culinary traditions by introducing a wealth of new fruits, vegetables, and seasonings.
Throughout almost the entire island, the contemporary cuisine of Madagascar typically consists of a base of rice served with an accompaniment; in the official dialect of the Malagasy language
, the rice is termed vary
), and the accompaniment, laoka
). The many varieties of laoka may be vegetarian
or include animal proteins, and typically feature a sauce flavored with such ingredients as ginger
, onion, garlic, tomato, vanilla
, curry powder
, or, less commonly, other spices or herbs. In parts of the arid south and west, pastoral
families may replace rice with maize, cassava
, or curds
made from fermented zebu milk. A wide variety of sweet and savory fritters
as well as other street foods are available across the island, as are diverse tropical and temperate-climate fruits. Locally produced beverages include fruit juices, coffee, herbal teas
, and alcoholic drinks such as rum
, wine, and beer. (Full article...
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Photographed at Berenty Reserve
The Madagascan big-headed turtle
) is a turtle
native to the waters of permanent slow moving rivers
in western Madagascar
. These turtles are critically endangered
and have been evaluated to be the most endangered turtle in the world by a 2018 review. Despite their vulnerability to extinction, they are commonly eaten for food and they are still commonly shipped from Madagascar to Asia to help meet the demand of Asia's traditional medicine market. A captive breeding program has also been started to prevent the species from becoming extinct
. The Turtle Conservation Fund (TCF) intends to raise US$5.6 million to cover a five-year 'Global Action Plan' which includes captive breeding and reintroduction projects, trade monitoring, new rescue centers, local conservation plans, and educational programs. (Full article...
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The distribution of traditional construction materials in Madagascar presents a predominance of earthen dwellings in the central Highlands and largely plant-based construction along the coasts, with intermediary zones making use of both material types.
The architecture of Madagascar is unique in Africa, bearing strong resemblance to the construction norms and methods of Southern Borneo from which the earliest inhabitants of Madagascar are believed to have immigrated. Throughout Madagascar and the Kalimantan region of Borneo, most traditional houses follow a rectangular rather than round form, and feature a steeply sloped, peaked roof supported by a central pillar.
Differences in the predominant traditional construction materials used serve as the basis for much of the diversity in Malagasy architecture. Locally available plant materials were the earliest materials used and remain the most common among traditional communities. In intermediary zones between the central highlands and humid coastal areas, hybrid variations have developed that use cob
and sticks. Wood construction, once common across the island, declined as a growing human population destroyed greater swaths of virgin rainforest for slash and burn
agriculture and zebu
cattle pasture. The Zafimaniry
communities of the central highland montane forests are the only Malagasy ethnic group
who have preserved the island's original wooden architectural traditions; their craft was added to the UNESCO
list of Intangible Cultural Heritage
in 2003. (Full article...
General images -
The following are images from various Madagascar-related articles on Wikipedia.
A news stand in Antananarivo
Canoe-sarcophagus of the Dayak: a burial that recalls the Malagasy tradition that former Ntaolo Vazimba and Vezo buried their dead in canoe-sarcophagi in the sea or in a lake
Hiragasy musicians wearing coordinating lambas
Malagasy Embassy to Europe in 1863. Left to right: Rainifiringa Ralaimaholy, Rev. John Duffus and Rasatranabo aka Rainandrianandraina.
Bond of the French colony Madagascar, issued 7. May 1897
Maternal mortality declined after 1990 but rose sharply after 2009 because of political instability.
The ring-tailed lemur is one of over 100 known species and subspecies of lemur found only in Madagascar.
A Sumatran village showing several traditional houses (Malagasy levu). The vahoaka ntaolo villages of Madagascar were probably similar in the first millennium AD. This model is still currently present on every coast and in the remote inland areas and forests.
The taro (saonjo in Malagasy) is, according to an old Malagasy proverb, "the elder of the rice" (Ny saonjo no zokin'ny vary), and was also a staple diet for the proto-Austronesians
Christians burned at the stake by Ranavalona I
Men in an Outrigger Canoe Headed for Shore, an oil painting by Arman Manookian depicting the Vezo people, c. 1929
Malagasy ancestry reflects a blend of Southeast Asian and Bantu (East African) roots.
Vaγimba- "Those of the forest" in Proto–Southeast Barito, the reconstructed ancestor of the Southeast Barito languages, which includes the languages spoken by the Dayak peoples of the Barito River in Borneo.
Map of Madagascar and the western portion of the East Indies, circa 1702–1707
Nosy Iranja is one of the international tourism destinations in Madagascar
Biogeographic timetable of Madagascar over the last 200 million years
Toy animals made from raffia, a native palm
Landing of the 40th Battaillon de Chasseur à Pieds in Majunga, between 5 May and May 24, 1895.
A proportional representation of Madagascar's exports
Map of Madagascar and surroundings, circa 1702–1707
Mahafaly tomb with traditional painted decoration
Matatana, represented in a picture of 1613, regarding a settlement of the beginning of the 16th century, in the Book of Humberto Leitão"
Madagascar—Gathering of The People for The Making of Laws (LMS, 1869, p.52)
Austronesians expansion map
Girl with colored braids in her hair.
Radama I, the first monarch of the kingdom unified central Madagascar.
An Austronesian outrigger canoe; Malagasy vahoaka "people" is from Proto-Malayo-Polynesian *va-waka "people of the canoe". The Vahoaka Ntaolo, the first Austronesian ancestors of the Malagasy, probably used similar canoes to reach the great island from the Sunda Islands
Poster of the French war in Madagascar
Moraingy is a traditional martial art of Madagascar.
Location of Madagascar (dark blue)
– in Africa (light blue & dark grey)
– in the African Union (light blue)
Moraingy is a traditional martial art of Madagascar.
Antananarivo is the political and economic capital of Madagascar.
A street vendor selling fresh potato chips and traditional kaka pizon snacks
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