587,040 sq km (226,656 sq mi)
Population (2010 est.):
Capital and largest city (2003 est.):
Antananarivo - 1,390,800
Malagasy and French (both official)
Malayo-Indonesian, Côtiers, French, Indian, Creole, Comoran
indigenous beliefs 52%, Christian 41%, Islam 7%
GMT+3; Daylight Savings Time is not observed
AC 220V/50Hz; European plugs with 2 round pins are used
Madagascar, officially Republic of Madagascar, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean located approximately 300 km (300 miles) off the coast of Mozambique (southeastern Africa). The main island, Madagascar, is the fourth largest island in the world
Madagascar's terrain is characterized by mountainous central plateau, called Hauts Plateaux, and coastal plains. The plateau occupies more than half of the main island and it essentially divides the island into east and west parts that differ from each other geographically, ethnically and climatically. Most of the western and southern sides of the plateau are dominated by tropical dry forests, thorn forests and deserts. The east side, on the other hand, is home to tropical rainforests. There are several mountain ranges on the island; the highest one is the Tsaratanana Massif, located in the far north with its highest peak Maromokotro, at 2,876 m (9,436 ft).
Madagascar is famous for its unique mix of plants and animals, many found nowhere else in the world. The reason for islands' many endemic species is its long isolation from the neighboring continents, estimated to last around 165 million years.