160 members, but on July 2007, the members were reduced to 127.
In January 2009, people began to get restless. On March 17, 2009, the government changed drastically. The military decided not to take orders from the president of Madagascar because
they were unhappy with the way he was ruling. They took Andry Rajoelina, the old president, and put in a man named Mare
If you were going to Madagascar, you might want to watch ouit for some violence,
because now, after that sudden turn of events, other countries have tried to
take over, and Madagascar’s government is now unstable. Madagascar’s history twists and turns.
People by Emeline
The Madagascar countrymen (and women), called Malagasy, are not your ordinary
people. They are very hospitable and have very humble attitudes towards themselves. A legend states that one Madagascar village would not give a tired traveler a
drink of water. As a result, the whole village was burned down as punishment!
The people live by the rule “Fihavana” which translates to “brotherhood.” Every family is expected to give their visitors food and water, no matter how
rich or poor they might be. Children are the center of the home. The whole reason for marriage is to have children. In the Malagasy culture, it is considered rude to talk about personal affairs
with people, even friends. People find aggressive behavior disgraceful.
Madagascar is made up of many different groups of people. The eighteen different Malagasy tribes are a majority of the people. The other people are Cormoran groups and small tribes of French, Indian, and
Chinese people. The Malagasy tribes are made up mostly of Indonesian and black African peoples. Many people living in the central-southern highlands look more like Indonesians,
lots of them growing rice in irrigated fields the way the Indonesians do. People living on the coast look more like Africans, raising cattle the way
eastern Africans often do.
The language “Malagasy” is widely spoken in Madagascar. I sounds much like the Malay and Indonesian languages. French and English, along with Malagasy, are the official languages of the
country. The estimated population of Madagascar is 20,653,556. The growth spur of the population per year is three per cent. The Malagasy people have their own special music, including “Vaky Soava,” a kind of rhythmic song with clapping. An expert of this practice is Paul Bert. The “Lokanga Voatavo” (a cordophone) is used and some guitars, including the “kabosu” (like the ukulele). Many of the rhythms of dancing evolved from Indonesian and Kenyan influence. In their music, the flute, whistle, and valiha are used. The valiha is a 28-stringed instrument that looks like the bassoon but is played
like the harp.
Many people eat rice, vegetables, fruit, and sometimes meat or fish. Another well-liked food is “romazava,” a beef and vegetable stew, and “ravito,” a pork stew with manioc greens. Achard and hot pickle curry are also eaten with other dishes. The seafood eaten on the coast is very good and not very expensive. Many fruits, such as pineapples, lychees, mangos, and bananas can be found
year-round. Their coffee is excellent and is drunk more than tea. The French part of the population brought on this tradition. Many people also find “Three Horses Beer” and other alcoholic drinks good.
Lots of people in Madagascar wear European-style clothes. The country’s stores sell many American T-shirts and blue jeans. Each tribe of Madagascar has its own type of straw hat that people wear on
special occasions. People living in the southern regions of the country don’t wear very much clothing.
Most of the adults in Madagascar know how to read and write. Many children go to primary schools, but only about one fifth of the children go
to high schools. The University of Madagascar is the main campus in Antananarivo. Many houses in Madagascar are built of brick. Lots of them are several stories high and have either thatched or tiled roofs. Approximately half the people of Madagascar are Christians, and about one tenth
of the people are Muslims. A lot of people living around the coasts of the country worship and offer
sacrifices to their ancestors and spirits. The ancestors of the people are greatly respected. Much time is spent caring for their graveyards, and the tombs are very
beautiful. Some resemble painted houses and some have a carved ornament of wood called a “staff” on top. Families who practice African religions sacrifice cattle and have religious
ceremonies at their family tombs. Even many Christians participate in the Malagasy traditional customs. At funerals, the mourning people have special ceremonies performed. The people find worship of the dead an awesome affair and take care not to
offend them. When they believe that the dead are angry, they prepare great rituals to be
performed to please their ancestors. One very famous practice is called the “Famidihana,” which translates “turning of the bones.” In this ritual, the dead are supposedly entertained, people talk to them, and
they bury them again with presents. Many people believe that the ancestors hold magic powers.
Religion by Claire Shelnutt
Religion in Madagascar has a strange but doleful tale. Years ago, two Welshmen went with their wives and children to Madagascar to tell
about Jesus. A couple of months later, only one, David Jones, was still alive. It would have been easy for him to go home, but he knew that God wanted him to
stay. The native language, Malagasy, was not a written language, so that when more
missionaries came, the first thing that they did was to put it into writing. They began a small school and taught children and adults to read and write. Many people on Madagascar were converted to Christianity, and the Bible was the
first book written in Malagasy. Yet what the Christians didn’t know is that their happiness was coming to an end.
A new ruler, Queen Ranavalona, said that the people of Madagascar should worship
only the dead kings and queens of the country. Anyone who worshiped God would be tortured or put to death. Ranavalona had many of the Christians of Madagascar put to death and executed
most of the relatives of her late husband, Radama I, so they could not take
power. The Queen died after 33 years of cruel reign, then thousands more were converted
to Christianity. Today many Christians remain, but many villages are so remote that the people
there do not know about Jesus.
Geography by Madeline
Madagascar has only two seasons in the year. The hot and rainy season is from November to April, and a cooler dry season
lasts from May to October. If you were to go to Madagascar, the best time to visit would be April,
November, or October.
Snow is a very rare thing in Madagascar. There was a record of snow in the 1900’s and more recently in July/August 2009.
The east coast of Madagascar is the wettest part and is sometimes hit by
tropical storms and cyclones. “Every year brings significant cyclonic systems often categorized as ‘intense,’ leaving little time for people to recover their livelihoods,” according to reliefweb.int (“Humanitarian Situation in Madagascar 06 May 2009”). The west coast of Madagascar has a dry deciduous forest. Deciduous trees lose their leaves each year. The southwest coast ofMadagascar has the driest climate on the island.
Travel by Nathan Daniels
Traveling throughout Madagascar is usually not very dangerous, though it can be
at night. About eleven seaports are in Madagascar, but the main way to get there is tofly.
Most international flights arrive in Antananarivo. The major concerns for visitors to Madagascar are crimes such as vehicular theft
and purse snatching. Don’t bring an expensive phone, because it is likely to be stolen. Rental cars usually come with a dcriver who is in charge of taking care of the
car and sometimes acts as a tour guide. There are random police checkpoints throughout Madagascar, so you should always
carry identification with you. If you don’t want to be victimized, travel in groups of three to three hundred.
If you want to stay safe, you should find a good hotel such as the Princesse
Bora Lodge, a small hotel on the west coast of Ile Ste Marie. It has a pool and rental bikes to explore. Diving and fishing are offered. Antoher good resort is Tsarabanjina, a private island off the coast of
Madagascar. It has pure white sand and turquoise water. You can fish, kayak, water ski, and play tennis, but best of all you can sleep.
A passport and visa are required to get into the country. Visas are available at all international airports. Visa fees can be paid in American dollars. Credit cards are not accepted in Madagascar. You can change U.S. money at most banks in Madagascar.
Some types of shots are required before traveling to Madagascar. You will need malaria pills, a tetanus shot, a meningococcal vaccine, and
malaria pills. You may need to get used to the food, and most of the water will need tablets to
Animals by Virginia
Two hundred thousand known species of animals are found on the island of
Madagascar. One hundred fifty thousand are endemic which means that they are found nowhere
else. According to WildMadagascar.org, “There are up to 50 types of lemurs, 99% of frog species, and 36 genera of birds.” Some of Madagascar’s species are found not only in Africa but also in the South Pacific and South
America. Scientists believe that long ago hippos were living on Madagascar but have since
Lemurs are tree-hopping furry animals which look similar to cats and squirrels. They actually are the most similar to humans. Lemurs are primates. One type of lemur can leap up to twenty-five feet in one jump. They have bushy tails that they wave in the air for communication. Lemurs have scent glands on the bottoms of their feet that leave a strong odor
on the ground where they have walked. They normally spend time in trees and bushes, but some lemurs live in dry
deserts or tropical rainforests. The babies are held in their mother’s teeth until they are able to hold on their mother’s fur by themselves. Their diet consists of leaves, fruit, and sometimes insects or small animals. Lemurs’ homes are continually being destroyed because people in Madagascar cut down
trees in order to have space for their crops. The smallest lemur weighs only one ounce, and the largest weighs up to fifteen
pounds. Lemurs can live up to eighteen years.
Another type do animal living in Madagascar is the chameleon. Of the one hundred fifty different species of chameleons, half are found in
Madagascar. These animals change colors frequently, not only because of their surroundings,
but also to defend their territory and attract mates. Chameleons can look from side to side without moving their heads.
A fossa is a carnivore, related to a mongoose and is Madagascar’s largest predator. It eats insects, reptiles, rodents, and lemurs. According to mobot.org, “it has a cat-like body and a dog-like nose.” A fossa is twice the size of a house cat. Its long tail helps it to balance in trees that are high above the ground. A fossa is active in trees and on the ground.
Another unusual animal found in Madagascar is the tenrec. Madagascar has thirty species of tenrecs. They were probably the first mammal to arrive on the island of Madagascar and
look similar to moles, shres, and hedgehogs. “When scared, they curl up in a ball and extend spiky hairs to protect themselves
from predators.” (www.mobot.org)
If traveling to Madagascar, you would want to avoid certain species. A real problem, leeches will find you and suck your blood. Mosquitoes and flies are also a problem. Don’t swim in water that looks dirty because bacteria could be living there which
could cause you to get a disease.
The best way to see all the different types of animals in Madagascar is to take a guided tour through one of the local parks.