Madagascar: The Exotic Island Essay, Research Paper
Madagascar: The Exotic Island
Looking at a map of the southern hemisphere, one wouldn?t expect
such a seemingly “small” island to be so exotic and bountiful, but the
island of Madagascar is just that. A 226,658 square mile (587,041
square kilometers) piece of land, with a a coastline of about 2,480
miles (3,990 kilometers), it?s a beautiful and different view of its large
The island itself is made up of ridges, rivers, valleys, and tropical
forests sectioning off the different regions of the landscape,
scattered trees and tall grasses to one side, narrow coastal plains,
and low plataeus and plains off to another. To the north is Mt.
Maromokotro, the highest peak on the island at 9,436 feet (2,876
meters). Coral beaches line the east coast, adding to the natural
beauty of the already lovely landscape.
The tropical climate provides varying amounts of rainfall?from 83
inches (211 centimeters) in the northwest to 14 inches (36
centimeters) in the southwest. The drought-infested south is
extremely hot and dry, and the west is hot and wet. Indian Ocean
cyclones bring periodic heavy rains and destructive floods. Once
covered by forests, most of the island now has a savannah-steppe
vegetation with a few forests in the west and evergreen forests on
the eastern edge of the central plateau. An interesting climate for
such a unique place.
The animals there are also different and the likes of which not found
anywhere else; not even in Africa. 50 species of lemurs inhabit the
island, as well as 800 different types of butterflies. Though near the
once-dubbed “Dark Continent”, the species and vegitation seem to
have remnants of Eastern India, proof perhaps that the island is a
breakaway of the decidedly larger continent of Asia.
The peoples of the large island are as diverse as the wildlife, ranging
from the Malagasy to the French, several native groups mixing with
those of foreign origins. The population in itself has near doubled
since 1950, 80 percent, mostly rural. Malagasy and French are the
officials languages of the island, with Christians (both Roman Catholic
and Protestent) making up the most of the religious groups.
Half still follow traditional ways, however. Education is free to all
citizens of Madagascar ranging in age from 6 to 14. However, some
tend to skip school and go straight to work. This is especially
common in the rural areas. Most hospitals are concentrated in urban
areas, but they are very understaffed for the numerous varieties of
tropical diseases that are abundant in the area, most commonly
malaria. The life expectency for natives is 51 years of age,
approximately 20 years less than our own in the U.S.
As you could probably guess, Madagascar?s land is a valuable asset
for farming. Agriculture is a large part of the economy. 86% of all
adults in Madagascar are employed in an industry pertaining to
farming, including farming itself.