The Republic of Madagascar, otherwise known as the "Great Red Island" is located in the Indian Ocean approximately 400km off the eastern coast of Africa. With an area of 587,040 sq km, Madagascar is the world's fourth largest island after Greenland, Papua New Guinea and Borneo.
The Malagasy people are famous for their friendliness and hospitality. Their culture is stamped by modesty, helpfulness and respect. Madagascar has two official languages: Malagasy is the everyday spoken language, while French is often used for literary, business and administrative purposes. Although more Malagasy are learning English.
The French Government created the first National Parks in the 1920's to contribute and conserve the unique wildlife. Madagascar is a paradise for ornithologists and amateur bird watchers alike with approximately 250 species of birds.
The island is renowned for its rich variety of flora. Each of the climatic zones hosts a different type of vegetation. The famous baobab trees are found primarily in the dry deciduous forests of western Madagascar and in the forests of the south. The rather wet eastern coast is characterized by rainforests. The country hosts over 10,000 varieties of plants.
With a melting pot of Arabic, French, African, and Indian cooking styles, Malagasy cuisine takes full advantage of the country's local production and uses plenty of spices to create an exotic and mouth-watering fare.
The Island is particularly famed for its fresh seafood, which is very reasonably priced and depending on the season, citrus fruits, peaches, mangoes, pears, avocados, lychees, bananas, apricots and coconuts are available in abundance.