The Indian Ocean is home to some absolutely stunning islands, none more so than Madagascar. Unfortunately this goregous island is under threat from deforestation, with more than 80 percent of its forests already gone.
The breathtaking coast
Madagascar boasts 5,000km of coastline bathed by a beautiful turquoise waters and all accompanied by seemingly endless coral reefs, home to an unbelievable range of marine species. The waters around Madagascar are perfect for those with an interest in snorkeling or diving - and they're hardly a bad place just to relax either!
The unique wildlife
Madagascar has a unique ecosystem of colourful plants and weird and wonderful animals, a lot of which can't be found anywhere else in the world. In terms of animals, you'll be able to find a variety of lemurs, chameleon, fossa and tenrec - a bit like Africa's answer to our everyday hedgehog.
The phenomenal foliage
The island of Madagascar is home to over 10,000 species of plants, 90% of which can only be found here! The diversity of the island's flora never ceases to amaze either, with rainforests along the coast, grasslands in the central highlands, savannah to the west and even desert in the southwest. The most impressive is the Baobab plants (pictured above) - trees with trunk diameters of 15 meters, heights of up to 35 meters. Some of the specimens around today have been there for 1,000 years!
The diversity of the landscape
The 'Tsingy' (meaning 'needles' in the local language) are special rocky limestone structures that are present in several nature reserves, such as the UNESCO-protected Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve. These funky formations are created as a result of the strong but inconsistent rainfall that sustains the island's diverse ecosystem.
© joaquan alvarez/123rf
The island's traditions and culture
Madagascar is an extremely culturally diverse country with its population of 22 million people being divided into as many as 18 different ethnic groups. The original Africans and Polynesians have been joined by Arabs, Indians and Europeans, forming a melting pot of traditions, customs and cultures that are demonstrated perfectly in the island's music and dance. Such variety is hard to find anywhere else in the world!
© Oscar D'Arcangelo/123rf