What do you call people from Madagascar


Hello, manao ahoana, welcome to Madagascar, the mysterious spice island in the Pacific!

Madagascar is the second largest island nation in the world. There are exciting pirate stories about the island, unfortunately also sad slave reports. Lemurs only live here, and only here can you discover the hidden city!


Location and landscapes

Madagascar is located off the east coast of Africa, in the Indian Ocean. The Mozambique Strait runs between the African continent and Madagascar. Madagascar originally belonged to the African continent. Madagascar broke off the African continent more than 150 million years ago. This is how the island kingdom developed its own flora and fauna.


Madagascar is also called the sixth continent, because the island is home to a wide variety of landscapes. In the middle of the island there is a plateau with a medium-high mountain range, the Ankaratra Mountains. It is a volcanic mountain range that is criss-crossed with caves, limestone formations and underground rivers.

To the north is the Montagne d'Ambre mountain with a forest of ferns, palms and other large trees. In the east the highlands drop steeply, in the west it rises gently. The east side is covered with dense rainforests, which are home to a huge variety of wildlife.


In the west there are steppes and dry forests with high hedges and baobab trees. Especially in the north, the island has many bays where pirates once hid. A few centuries ago, Madagascar was a green island covered with tropical forests. Today many forests have been destroyed by slash and burn. They have been turned into arable land or are quilted. In many unforested places the ground is bright red, which is why Madagascar is also called the "Red Island".

Climate: Madagascar is located south of the equator, so it is tropical hot all year round. Every summer, tropical cyclones sweep across the island and cause great damage. The forests of Masagascar are most affected.

For comparison: With almost 600,000 square kilometers, the island is as big as Germany, Holland, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland combined.

  Who will save the forests of Madagascar?

The wildlife of Madagascar

The island was separated from Africa 150 million years ago. As a result, there are many animals in Madagascar that cannot be found anywhere else on earth. On the other hand, the large wild animals that have developed on the African continent such as gorillas, elephants or giraffes are missing here. Over ninety percent of all animals are only found here! Lemurs are one of these special animals. The cute fur creatures are among the stars in the film Madagascar.


Of course, there are also many species that you never saw in the film, such as sticky bats, giant rats and exotic insects. The unique flora and fauna are unfortunately severely threatened by the rapidly growing population.

More about the animals in Madagascar

Antananarivo - the capital of Madagascar

The capital Antananarivo is in the middle of the island, in the Akaratra Mountains. On the map above you will find the city in the yellow marked field. The name Antananarivo means The city of a thousand. It was founded around 1625 on Lac Anosy and later became the capital of the kings of Merino.


Today Antananarivo has 1.8 million inhabitants. From Lac Anosy, an infinite number of stairs and winding alleys lead into the various quarters. Every Friday markets are held all over the city, offering vegetables, fish and fruit as well as local spices, medicinal herbs, precious stones, clothes and kitchen utensils. The Pirate Museum, where you can discover a lot about pirates, is popular because they lived in Madagascar for a long time and even founded their own republic here.
More about pirates in Africa

The slums of Antananarivo

Poor neighborhoods surround the city. Families, young people and children live in the huts made of clay, plywood and sheet metal. All of them were drawn to the city by the hope of a better life. The huts usually only have one room that is shared by four, five or more people. Real life takes place on the street, here people trade, swap, argue and make music. Most of the roads are unpaved and there are no sewers. Toilets? Nothing. The residents mostly live from services of all kinds, such as washing clothes and shoes, sorting garbage and running errands. They travel in minibuses, rickshaws and ox carts. If they manage to get a better job in the factories or in construction, they tend to leave the slum and look for an apartment on the outskirts.


Peoples and languages

Madagascar was only settled around 2300 years ago. The new settlers came from different parts of the world: from Indonesia, Africa and the Arab region. The first European to set foot on the island was the Portuguese navigator Diego Dias. He discovered it on August 10, 1500 and named it São Lorenço. It got its current name from Marco Polo, the Italian researcher. He described an African island with unspeakable wealth as Madeigascar. The Italian cartographers of the Renaissance used the name Madagascar from that point on. In the 17th century, the locals also began to call their island Madagascar. Previously it was called "Nosim-Dambo" - "Island of the wild pigs" by many.

In Madagascar there are many different groups of people who are called "Foko". The population is divided into 18 tribes according to the borders of former kingdoms. The majority live in the country. But more and more Madagascans are moving to the big cities, because the earning opportunities are much better there. The families are large, and the majority of children grow up with five or more siblings.

Language and religion

The Malagasy people are very different due to their origins, but they all have one thing in common: Malagasy. Many Malagasy people also speak French. This is because Madagascar was a French colony for a long time. Since then, in addition to the traditional natural religion, the Christian religion has also played a major role on the island. Christian holidays are one of the great festivals. A large proportion of women contribute to the family income. Most of them work in agriculture or in the manufacturing industries. In rural areas, women are often more educated than men and are committed to modernizing agriculture. However, few women are active in business and government. A rethinking of the position of women is only slowly beginning in Madagascar. The Madagascans are a "young" people, more than half of the residents are under 18 years of age. The dancer in the photo above is dancing the hiragasy dance that Indonesian immigrants brought to Madagascar.

The Malagasy people and the music

D.he Malagasy people are known for making music at every opportunity. Jazz, chansons and western pop music can be heard in the streets, while traditional folk music is played in the villages. Dance music called salegi is played in the coastal regions. The most famous musical instrument of Madagascar is the famous bamboo harp, the valiha is called. The islanders are incredibly inventive at making musical instruments. They build drums from animal skins, wind instruments from seashells and a kind of alpine horn from cattle horns. On the left in the picture you can see Ando, ​​who is playing on two cans from which he has made a drum.

Celebrations and holidays

The Madagascans maintain their old natural religions. Ancestors and ancestors play a major role in this. For this reason, they celebrate many festivals that have to do with their ancestors. The ancestors are not considered dead. It is believed that they just moved to another realm. At the biggest festival on the island, the Famadihana, the bones of the dead are taken from the brightly painted tombs, taken home, cleaned and wrapped in fresh towels. Then the new family members are introduced to the dead. Then a feast is held, there is dancing and singing. The children also celebrate. After the feast, the bones are buried again in the tomb.

Taboo - forbidden!

The Malagasy people are terrified of an animal that comes in all different colors and sizes on their island: the chameleon. They run away so as not to come into contact with lizards. Because they believe that the chameleon brings misfortune, illness and worry. They call the chameleon fady, which means forbidden or taboo. Much is fady in Madagascar. The dugout driver can't eat an eel, fady. A pregnant woman should not eat ginger. If an old man goes to his fields on Tuesday, fady! An invisible web of prohibitions pervades the whole island. Village chiefs are allowed to pronounce new fadys and pick up old ones. Just like the people of Indonesia.

school and education

School buildings in Madagascar are immediately noticeable. They are mostly elongated buildings with the national flag in front of them. Mostly they are outside of the localities. When it's not vacation time, multicolored uniformed children flock to the school several times a day. Classes are in French. First of all, that's a hurdle for the first graders. The school costs nothing, but school materials such as exercise books and books cost around 14 euros a year. Quite a lot when you consider that around three quarters of the Malagasy people don't earn more than one euro a day. The toilets are often a problem - there are too few. Fresh water is not always available either. For their education, the children sometimes cover up to 10 km a day. Around three quarters of all children go to school. Compulsory schooling is seven years, but most leave school after a few years. They have to work to help support the family. That's a shame, because well-paid jobs are in short supply. The best way to earn money is in the public service. But for that you need a school leaving certificate. More about schools in Africa

Already knew? The Malagasy people love the theater and they like to play all kinds of roles themselves. They are always inventing new pieces, no wonder given their adventurous history. A very special kind of art is making a speech, that kabary. Giving good speeches is even taught in class.

Games and sports

Many parents in Madagascar do not earn enough to buy toys for their children. But as everywhere in the world, children are inventive here too, in order to still have their fun. These guys have made their own boats out of wood and scraps of fabric and use them to organize a sailing competition. Ball games are also popular. Hardly anyone can afford real soccer balls here, but the children collect scraps of fabric from which their mothers can quickly sew a usable ball. Board games are also popular, such as the Fanorona, which can also be played in the sand.

A day with Ando and his family

Agriculture and Natural Resources

Agriculture and Spices

The scent of cinnamon, pepper, vanilla and nutmeg wafts over Madagascar. After all, the majority of the Malagasy people live from agriculture and the spice trade. The spices made the island rich hundreds of years ago. France wanted to bring Madagascar under its rule in order to control the spice market. Pepper is arguably the world's oldest spice. Pepper is a tropical climbing plant that can grow up to 15 m high and needs a host plant. Wherever pepper grows, coffee and tea also thrive. Soon, tea and coffee plantations were established in Madagascar in addition to spice plantations. The island's cuisine is characterized by the variety of plants and spices that thrive here.

Natural resources

Madagascar's soils are rich in a wide variety of minerals: chromium, bauxite, titanium, graphite, iron, nickel and hard coal are mined. Even crude oil is stored here in large quantities. Madagascar is also rich in quartz, multi-colored tourmalines and sapphires. In the red earth you can also find numerous gemstones such as emeralds, rubies and beryls. The future of Madagascar could lie in deep-sea mining. Large deposits of metal were found on the seabed off Madagascar.

Child labor in Madagascar

There is child labor in almost every African country where the majority of the population lives on the poverty line. This is also the case in Madagascar. Lots of people have less than a dollar a day to survive. Children in particular suffer from poverty. Children shouldn't have to work, but many families would not be able to make ends meet without the extra income from their children. Many children then cannot go to school because they have to work in the markets, toil as servants or make ends meet by begging. As a result, some of the children cannot read and write. A quarter of the Support Malagasy children between the ages of 5 and 17 their families financially. This figure has been determined by the World Bank. Many have to help with the field work, many work as domestic servants for wealthy families in order to earn their school fees. Many toil in quarries or in the sapphire mines in the south of the country. The working conditions for children are particularly miserable here.

Tourist Attractions

Ambohimanga is the most mysterious place in Madagascar. The royal seat of the Merina, the oldest royal house of Madagascar, is located on a sacred hill near the capital Antananarivo. It is hidden in the middle of the woods and it will be Hidden city called. It is surrounded by a wall with seven entrance gates. The wooden palace forms the center where the king once ruled. Ambohimanga is still considered the religious and cultural center of Madagascar today.

You can find more sights in the afrika-junior travel guide

The history of Madagascar

The first to colonize Madagascar were Indonesian seafarers. After them came Arabs. As early as the 7th century AD, Arabs dominated the slave trade in Madagascar. They took prisoners from Europe and Africa to their spice plantations. Africans brought their customs into the country. More and more Africans came to Madagascar from the east coast to build a new life on the fertile island. The frescoes on the left of the picture show the French entering Madagascar.

More about the history of Madagascar

Madagascar today

Madagascar was a well developed country; the people could live from their work. But the country was not ruled fairly and wealth was not distributed appropriately. This has resulted in demonstrations and political uprisings over the past decade. This paralyzed the country's economy. The tourists stayed away. Many Malagasy people lost their jobs. Many aid organizations that took care of the children's education also left the country. General elections were held in 2013, but part of the population was unable to participate. Why? They didn't have enough money to get valid ID. Without this her vote was not valid. There is now a government in power that is only democratically elected to a limited extent. The transition to a democracy in which everyone participates will take a few years. So it is also that Madagascar is now considered a developing country. The majority of Malagasy people live below the poverty line. Well-paid jobs are rare. The health system is poor and not everyone has access to fresh water.

What about children's rights in Madagascar?

There is great poverty in Madagascar. So it's not good for children's rights, as children suffer most from poverty. A coup in 2009 worsened the situation in the country. In the capital Antananarivo alone, 200,000 jobs were destroyed. The state cut funding for education and health. Around ninety percent of the population lives below the poverty level. It means that Madagascar is the poorest country in the world today. The children are particularly hard hit. Most parents earn too little to care for their children. The majority of children do not have enough to eat, are disadvantaged in education and their fundamental rights are not respected. The Malagasy people know that a lot has to change politically. Her motto is: Mora, mora. We take our time, but we are never late. "


Famous personalities

The musicians of Madagascar are the island's best ambassadors. Many musicians never leave the island. They write and produce their songs under the simplest studio conditions and make the best of them. The Malagasy guitarist D'Gary became internationally famous with his recordings. Hear one of the hits that are being played in Madagascar right now: Malaso

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