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Saturday 13th July
Madagascar Facts
The highest point in Madagascar is Maromokotro (2,876 m).

Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world (after Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo).

Millions of years ago Madagascar was part of the continent of Gondwana. Madagascar became an island around sixty million years ago.

Many of the plants and wildlife of Madagascar are not found anywhere else in the world.

Madagascar is known as the Red Island because of the colour of the earth.

The ancestors of the Malagasy people settled on Madagascar around two thousand years ago.

The Malagasy language is of Malayo-Polynesian origin.

The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga, a World Heritage site, has been an important centre of the Malagasy people for five hundred years. It consists of a royal city, burial site, and a number of sacred places.

The traditional religion of the Malagasy people emphasizes the importance of ancestors.

The ritual of Famadihana, practiced by the Merina and Betsileo people of Madagascar, involves the removal of relatives' bodies from tombs, rewrapping them and holding ceremonies and festivities before returning them to their resting place.

Arabs established trading posts along parts of the coast of Madagascar in the seventh century.

Diego Dias, the Portuguese explorer, first sighted Madagascar at the beginning of the sixteenth century.

The Portuguese were followed to Madagascar by Dutch, English and French traders.

In 1817 the Merina king signed a treaty with the British governor of Mauritius abolishing the slave trade.

In 1885 the British agreed to a French protectorate over Madagascar in return for Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania).

Madagascar became a French colony in 1896.

The Merina monarchy was abolished; Queen Ranavalona III was exiled to Algeria in 1897.

In 1912 the Comoros islands became a French colony, administered by the Governor General of Madagascar.

In 1946 Madagascar became an Overseas Territory of France.

Madagascar achieved independence (Malagasy Republic) in 1960.

Madagascar was named the Democratic Republic of Madagascar between 1975 and 1992. The name changed to the Republic of Madagascar in September 1992.

Two thousand people in Madagascar were made homeless by cyclones in March 2000.

Thousands more were made homeless by tropical cyclones in 2004.

In 2008 Madagascar was hit Cyclone Ivan which killed over ninety people, leaving many homeless.

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