Monday, November 14, 2022

Travel the World - Madagascar

I started a 50-week series in 2019 that I called Travel the World. Each week of the series I visited a randomly-selected country, sharing bits of information about that country. I then chose one tidbit of information about that week's country as inspiration for a card. As I explored those 50 countries in 2019, I knew I would continue on until I've visited every one of the 195 countries in the world. By the end of 2021, I'd virtually traveled to 145 countries and plan to complete my journey to all 195 countries by visiting the last 50 this year.

This week's country is...


The Island of Madagascar is located off the Eastern Coast of Africa. Situated within the Indian Ocean, Madagascar is located 250 miles off the East coast of mainland Africa.

Madagascar is the second largest island country in the world - after Indonesia. Madagascar is also the fourth largest island in the world - after Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo. 

Madagascar is sometimes referred to as the “Great Red Island” because of its iron and aluminum rich soils that produce brilliant red colors.

It is one of the 12 poorest countries in the world. An estimated 70% of Madagascar's residents live on less than $1 per day.

The population of Madagascar is larger than the population of Australia.

Over 60% of Madagascar's population is under the age of 25. 

Madagascar’s government has promoted tourism as an economic development strategy. With over 70% of the country living in poverty, tourism is seen as a way to reduce poverty and provide economic growth.

There are 18 recognized Malagasy ethnic groups/tribes with their varying traditions and beliefs, so the cultures change as you move around the country. Some general commonalities overlap between most groups, such as male circumcision ceremonies, the importance of funerals and burial, and respect for ancestors, but each group still celebrates differently.

Madagascar is roughly four times as big as the US state Georgia or slightly smaller than Spain and Portugal combined.

Though the size of Madagascar is almost twice that of the UK, Madagascar has just 1% of the total paved road length of the UK.

Malagasy is the official and most commonly spoken language in Madagascar. French is also an official language and an important language in business. French is taught in some schools, while English and Italian are also spoken in tourist areas. 

The capital city of Madagascar is Antananarivo, also commonly referred to as Tana. Antananarivo is the country's largest city with more than 3.6 million people.

Antananarivo is situated at 4,199 feet above sea level and the historic centre with the Queen's palace is located on Analamanga hill. There are 12 hills surrounding the capital city. The 'lower town' houses the commercial districts and is surrounded by extensive rice fields.

There are over 5000 churches/buildings in and around the capital city, including a Roman Catholic cathedral and an Anglican church building. This city has more nightclubs, universities, medical services, and art venues than any other city in the region.

Because Madagascar has been isolated from the rest of Africa for so long, many new species have evolved there. About 80% of the animals found in Madagascar do not exist anywhere else on Earth. Many are endangered, since over 90% of their natural habitat has been destroyed.

If you want to see lemurs in the wild, the only place you can see them is in Madagascar. It’s also home to species that you probably haven’t heard of. Like the Fossa, a cat-like mammal that’s closely related to the mongoose

Across Madagascar, lemurs are often revered, protected, and seen as sacred by its population. Many origin myths make some connection between lemurs and humans, usually through common ancestry. As of 2012, there were 103 living species and subspecies of lemur, almost all classified as rare, vulnerable, or endangered. There are also several species of extinct lemurs- including a giant lemur.

The only animals in the Madagascar movie that actually live in Madagascar are the fossa and lemurs. Zebras, lions or penguins don’t live in Madagascar –  even though they were featured in the movie.

The national animal of Madagascar is the zebu. Zebus are cattle which have a fatty hump on their shoulders and horns. They are well adapted to droughts and heat. Zebus are used as transport animals and raised for their meat and horns. The horns are used for tools and traditionally for decorations to tombs.

Madagascar is home to the giant jumping rat. True to its name, it can jump nearly 40 inches into the air

Of the world’s 150 species of chameleons, more than half of them can be found in Madagascar.

There are several plant species in Madagascar that can be used as herbal remedies. For example, Hodgkin’s disease, leukemia, and other cancers can be treated by the drugs vinblastine and vincristine, which are derived from the Madagascar periwinkle.

Madagascar is home to more than 2/3 of the world's vanilla fields.

The baobab are a tree species that is endemic to Madagascar. The baobab alley in western Madagascar is home to six of the eight species of baobab that are found in Madagascar only. Some of the baobabs in this alley are up to 800 years old. The baobab tree is called reniala in the Malagasy language. Often people also refer to the tree as bottle tree as the trunk of the baobab tree stores lots of water. The baobabs have long trunks as they grow up to 30 m/ 98 ft in height.

Madagascar was one of the largest and most popular resting places for European pirates and traders between the late 1700s and early 1800s. It was also rumored to be the site of the independent pirate nation of Libertalia, which may or may not have existed. According to the story, pirates renounced their national identities and called themselves Liberi, making their own system of government and law. They waged war against states and lawmakers, releasing prisoners and freeing slaves.

Malagasy worship their ancestors in a unique way. So much so that they exhume buried relatives, re-wrap them in fresh grave clothes and they dance with them around the tomb. It’s a way of staying connected with departed relatives and paying their respects.

Poverty doesn’t dissuade the people of Madagascar from building expensive burial tombs for their dead, or burying the dead with jewels and precious metals. In fact, many families spend more on their dead than on themselves.

Music is not viewed as a luxury, but a sacred part of the Malagasy daily life. Music is believed to be the connection to an ancestor’s soul.

The masonjoany is a face mask or face painting prepared from sandalwood powder and is used to protect the skin from the sun. Girls and women of the Sakalava people also often show beautifully painted faces and traditional clothes to proclaim their belonging to this ethnic group.

Both men and women wear the same clothing in Madagascar - the lamba. There are lambas for marriages, lambas for work, lambas for elders, lambas for children and even the dead are wrapped in a special kind of lamba before burial. 

About 85% of all Malagasy farmers grow rice. Rice is the most exported agricultural product of Madagascar.

As far as rice is concerned, it's a staple in most households. Rice is covered with sauce, meat, veggies, and spices in a traditional dinner.

Madagascar has a healthy share of exotic fruits in its basket. Fruits like jackfruit, longan, avocado, custard apple, breadfruit, and baobab all grow on this tiny island tropical island.

Ranovola is served as a tea in Madagascar, but is far from one. Its preparation goes something like this: burn rice in a pan, pour water, strain and enjoy your morning tea.

Madagascar is the world's largest vanilla export country and produces about half of the world's vanilla crops. Vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron because it is very labour-intensive to grow vanilla plants. Vanilla is grown on vine-like plants. As the vanilla orchids flower only one day in the year, the farmer must quickly pollinate the flower by hand. When the pods have grown, the vanilla beans are picked when still not ripe, then soaked in hot water and after this laid out to dry for up to thirty days.

Madagascar has an entire forest made of stones. Tsingy – Madagascar’s Stone Forest, has big, tall stones naturally lined up along with trees.

Madagascar has produced several of the world's finest sapphires.

The Toliara reef in eastern Madagascar is one of the largest coral reef areas in the world. It is also one of the most endangered reef systems in the world. Due to coral bleaching only half of the reef's corals are still alive.

Madagascar has its own brand of fight clubs. Moraingy is a popular sport in the coastal regions, consisting of hand-to-hand combat without any weapons.

Rugby is Madagascar's national sport, although football (or soccer, as it's called in the United States) is also popular among the country's residents and tourists.

My inspiration for this week's card is based on this fact about Madagascar... The island of Madagascar is home to more than 150 varieties of palm trees.

Here's the inside:

Thanks for stopping by my blog today!

Stamp: Maker Forte Splatter 2 stamped with Concord & 9th Wheat Ink

Sentiment: Taylored Expressions Simple Strips in Reverse Everyday Occasions

Paper: Hammermill 110# White, Recollections Kraft and SU Basic Black CS 

Stencil: Newton's Nook Retro Sun & Palms

Inks (for blending): Concord & 9th (Buttercup, Marmalade, and Wheat), Gina K (Black Onyx), and SU (Pineapple Punch)

Dies: MFT Stitched Rectangles


Lorraine said...

Beautiful card! Love all the info about Madagascar! I can totally do without the giant jumping rats though : )

kiwimeskreations said...

Now that was a lot of information about a island nation Jeanette - it was a fascinating read.
Love the drama of your card with the silhouette palms against the gorgeous "stripy sun" background