Madagascar: Our 4th Largest Island

Madagascar, the fourth largest island on our planet, is located in the Indian Ocean off southeast Africa.  Following the prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent about 88 million years ago, the native plants and animals have evolved in relative isolation which makes Madagascar a hotspot of biodiversity with over 90% of its wildlife found nowhere else on earth.  However; the encroachment of the rapidly growing human population and other environmental threats challenge the island’s diverse ecosystems and unique wildlife.

Human settlement of Madagascar occurred between 350 BC and 550 AD by people from Asia and Oceana.  These people were joined around 1000 AD by migrants crossing the Mozambique Channel from East Africa. The Asian-African mix of populations and cultures continues to remain evident in the people of Madagascar today. 

In 2012, the population of Madagascar was estimated at just over 22 million, 90% of whom live on less than $2 per day.  Ecotourism and agriculture, along with greater investments in education, health, and private enterprise, are key elements of Madagascar’s development strategy. Although these investments produced substantial economic growth, the benefits were not evenly spread throughout the population, producing tensions over the increasing cost of living and declining living standards among the poor and some segments of the middle class which has resulted in a continued low quality of life for the majority of the Malagasy population.

Please stay tuned for regular upcoming posts on a variety of subjects on the flora and fauna of Madagascar and follow my journey of the unique beauty of this incredibly diverse island.