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Map of Madagascar
Madagascar flag
Madagascar's Flag

Location: The Republic of Madagascar (called Repoblikan'i Madagasikara in Malagasy) is an island country off the coast of southeastern Africa in the Indian Ocean (located about 500 km or 300 miles east of Mozambique).

Size: Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world. It covers an area of 587,040 sq km (about 227,800 sq miles, smaller than the US state of Texas but bigger than California). Madagascar is about 1600 km (1,000 miles) long and 400 km (250 miles) wide.

Climate: Madagascar generally has a tropical climate.


Capital: Antananarivo is the capital of Madagascar and the largest city in Madagascar. The name Antananarivo means "The City of Thousands" ("arivo" means "thousand" in Malagasy). This high-altitude city was founded in the 1600s as a walled citadel. Antananarivo is located in the central highlands; its altitude is 1,468 meters above sea level.

MadagascarProvinces: Madagascar is divided into six provinces (called faritany); Antananarivo (the capital), Antsiranana (North), Fianarantsoa, Mahajanga (a mostly uninhabited area on the west coast), Toamasina, and Toliara.

Population: People first traveled to Madagascar in boats from continental Africa about 2,000 years ago. The people of Madagascar today are a mixture of Asian (Austronesian) and African, with some people from the Middle East.

The population of Madagascar is about 18,040,341 (estimated in July 2005). An inhabitant of Madagascar is called a Malagasy.

Ethnic Groups: Madagascar is home to many African/Asian ethnic groups, including: Malayo-Indonesian (Merina and related Betsileo), Cotiers (mixed African, Malayo-Indonesian, and Arab ancestry - Betsimisaraka, Tsimihety, Antaisaka, Sakalava), French, Indian, Creole, and Comoran.

Major Languages: French and Malagasy are the official languages of Madagascar.

Madagascar flagFlag: The Malagasy flag is has a white vertical band by the flagpole and red and green horizontal bands (the red band is on top). Each color field has the same area; the total height-to-width ratio of the flag is 2:3. This flag was officially adopted on October 14, 1958.

National Holiday: Madagascar's Independence Day is celebrated on June 26.

Independence and Democracy: The Republic of Madagascar was formed on June 26, 1960, after gaining independence from France. Madagascar was a colony of France from 1896 to 1960. On August 19, 1992, Madagascar's constitution was adopted by a national vote.

Type of Government: Madagascar is a republic; the president is elected.

Economy: Madagascar is a very poor country. Fishing and forestry are major sources of income. Very little of Madagascar (about 5 percent) of Madagascar is arable (capable of producing farm crops).

Money: The unit of money in Madagascar is the Malagasy franc. Madagascar is one of the few countries in the world that doesn't use a decimal currency (the only other country is Mauritania). The Malagasy currency uses a base 5 system (1 ariary = 5 Malagasy francs).

Natural Resources: Madagascar has gold, phosphates, kaolin, salt, limestone, uranium, and hydropower (water-powered electricity). Most of the people in Madagascar (about 70-80 percent) make their living by farming and fishing; about 10 percent of the Madagascaran population is nomadic.

Geography: Madagascar is a mountainous island with some high plateaus (high-altitude flat areas); it is ringed by a narrow coastal plain (a flat area). Madagascar has rainforests that are home to many unusual animals. Nosy means "island" in the Malagasy language.

Major Rivers: On the east coast, rivers are short and run swifty because the slope of the land is steep. Major west coast rivers include: the Mananara and Mangoro rivers (which flow from the central highlands to the east coast into the Indian Ocean) and the Maningory River (which flows from the Lake Alaotra to the east coast and the ocean).

On the west coast, the rivers are longer and run more slowly because the slope of the land is less steep. Major west coast rivers include: the Betsiboka (the longest river of Madagascar - the port of Mahajanga is located at the mouth of this river), the Sambirano, the Mahajamba, the Mania, the North and South Mahavavy, the Mangoky, and the Onilahy. In the south, there is the often-dry Mandrare River.

Major Lakes: The biggest lake in Madagascar is Lake Alaotra; it is approximately 40 km long.

Highest Point: The highest point in Madagascar is Maromokotro, which is 2,876 m above sea level.

Lowest Point: The lowest points in Madagascar are at sea level.

Surrounding Body of Water: Indian Ocean.

Ring-Tailed Lemur
Animals: About 165 million years ago, Madagascar was connected to Africa. Continental drift caused it to move away from Africa. It is now about 500 km or 300 miles off the coast. This isolated island is home to many unique animals which have been separated from their ancestors for millions of years. Some Malagasy animals include lemurs (lemurs are prosimians or primitive monkeys that are found only on Madagascar; indris are the largest lemurs), aye-ayes, flying fox bats, fossa, fanaloka, tenrec, ploughshare tortoises, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, over 300 spsecies of frogs, many chameleons, lizards, and and over 250 spsecies of birds (including bee-eaters and couas) .

Extinct Animals: No large mammals are native to Madagascar except the dwarf hippopotamus, which probably swam or floated to Madagascar from Africa during the Tertiary era (from about 65 million years ago to 2 million years ago). Elephant birds (Aepyornis maximus) were enormous flightless birds whose eggs weighed about 20 pounds; these birds were killed off by egg-eating cats and dogs that were brought to Madagascar by humans. Other recently-extinct animals are many species of lemurs (including the long-snouted Megaladapis and the sloth lemur Archaeoindris), giant tortoises, and the giant aye-aye.

Dinosaur Fossils: Many dinosaur fossils have found in Madagascar, including Bothriospondylus, Eustreptospondylus, Laplatasaurus, Lapparentosaurus, Majungasaurus, Majungatholus, Masiakasaurus, Rapetosaurus, and 230 million year old prosauropods.

Plants: This isolated island is home to many unusual plants including huge palms, 8 species of baobab trees, and many orchids. The national tree of Madagascar is the baobob tree.

Related Pages:

Madagascar: Coloring Printout

An easy, printable coloring worksheet about Madagascar with a map of Madagascar, its flag, and labeled pictures of the lemur and aye-aye.

Madagascar: Map Quiz Worksheet

A printable quiz on the major geographic features of Madagascar. The student reads a map to answer 10 geography questions. Or go to the answers.

Madagascar: Quiz

A 10-question quiz on Madagascar. Or go to the answers.

Madagascar: Outline Map Printout

An outline map of Madagascar to print.
Connect the Dots Mystery Map

Madagascar: Dot to Dot Mystery Map

Connect the dots to draw the borders of a mystery country. Then use a globe or atlas to figure out which country you have drawn. You might want to give students clues, such as the continent the country is in (Africa), that it is in the Southern Hemisphere, or that its name starts with "M." Answer: Madagascar.

Flag of Madagascar

A printable blackline master (printout) of the flag of Madagascar.

Africa: Outline Map Printout

An outline map of Africa to print.
Africa: Zoom School

Use a pictorial interface to get information on Africa. including maps, quizzes, animals, explorers, and printouts on Africa.
Africa - map to label

Africa: Label Me! Printout with First Letter Hints

Label the countries and bodies of water of Africa, given the first letter of the places.

African Countries: Label Me! Printout

Label the countries of Africa.
Geography report thumbnail

Country Report Graphic Organizer Printout #1

This printout helps the student do a short report on a country, prompting the student to draw a map of the country, locate it on a world map, draw the country's flag, and write the country's continent, capital city, area, population, name of currency, and language(s).
Geography report thumbnail

Country Report Graphic Organizer Printout #2

This printout helps the student do a short report on a country, prompting the student to draw a map of the country, locate it on a world map, draw the country's flag, and write the country's continent, capital city, area, population, name of currency, language(s), climate, type of government, and major industries.


A strange primate from Madagascar.

Angonoka (Ploughshare) Tortoise

An endangered species from Madagascar.


Large-eyed primates from Madagascar.


The Coelacanth (pronounced SEE-la-canth) is a primitive lobe-finned fish that was thought to have been extinct for millions of years, but a living coelacanth was caught in the Indian Ocean off the coast of South Africa in 1938. Go to a coelacanth quiz or go to the answers.

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