Ring-tailed lemur © Heinonlein
The fourth largest island in the world, Madagascar is world famous for its unique wildlife, diverse fauna and flora, and melting pot of cultures. Situated just off the east coast of Africa, Madagascar is distinct from its African neighbour. The Malagasy culture is an interesting mix of Indonesian, French and Southern African. All these influences can be seen in the island's architecture, food, and music.
Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot, being home to thousands of species of plant and animal life of which about 90 percent cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. Tourists and scientists alike come to the island to see the 103 different species of lemur, as well as the dwarf chameleons, tomato frogs, fossa, and hedgehog-like tenrecs. The country's isolation has also enabled the development of plants into remarkable shapes, like the swollen Baobab, and the spiny forests. Wilderness areas such as Isalo National Park and Tsingy Nature Reserve allow visitors to explore Madagascar's exotic fauna, flora, and striking geological features.
Madagascar has its share of beautiful beaches and coral reefs, such as those found on the cluster of islands off the northeast coast. Best known is Nossi Bé, while Ile Ste-Marie off the east coast, and Toliara in the south, are also major attractions for divers, snorkelers, and sunbathers. The bustling capital of Antananarivo, or 'Tana', has a distinctly French flavour and is an excellent place to shop for Malagasy arts and crafts. Holiday makers searching for an off the beaten track experience will revel in all that Madagascar has to offer.
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