Madagascar is made up of one large island and many tiny nearby islands, which lies in the Indian Ocean, about 240 miles southeast of the African mainland. Most of Madagascar became part of the local Merina Kingdom, which fell to the French in 1896, and all of Madagascar became a French colony. Madagascar gained independence from France in 1960. It was known as the Malagasy Republic until 1975, when its name was changed to Madagascar. Its official name is the Republic of Madagascar.
Madagascar is one of the most bio-diverse countries on the planet, home to thousands of species of plant and animal life of which about 75 percent cannot be found anywhere else on earth. Madagascar also has plenty of beautiful beaches and coral reefs, such as those found on the islands off the north east coast. Best known is Nossi Bé.
The climate of Madagascar is warm and humid on the coast. The southern end of the island is mainly desert and has a hot, dry climate. The highlands are cool, and temperatures at Antananarivo range between 48 and 81 °F (9 and 27 °C).
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
POPULATION: 20 million
LANGUAGE: English, French, Malagasy
CURRENCY: Malagasy Ariary
ELECTRIC CURRENT: 127/220V, 50Hz. To power any electrical item an international adapter or a two pin plug is required.
COUNTRY DIALLING CODE: +261
TIME ZONE: GMT/UTC + 3
You should avoid driving outside urban areas after dark, as there have been armed robberies at night on some of the major roads.
Information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK www.fco.gov.uk