1. It’s an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa. It is one of Africa’s six sovereign island nations.
2. It is Africa’s 22nd largest country and the 2nd largest island country in the world.
3. Its capital and largest city is Antananarivo.
4. Malagasy and French are official languages.
5. Major ethnic groups: Merina (26%), Betsimisaraka (15%), Betsileo (12%), Tsimihety (7%), Sakalava (6%), Antaisaka (5%), Antandroy (5%), Chinese/Indian/Comoran/French/Other (24%)
6. Major religions: Christianity (85%), Traditional religions (5%), Islam (3%), Other or no religion (7%)
7. Madagascar gained independence from France in October 1960.
8. It is one of the most undeveloped countries in the world.
9. It is a biodiversity hotspot and more than 90% of its plants and wildlife is found nowhere else on earth.
10. Lemurs are the most well-known mammal species of Madagascar and more than 103 species and subspecies live on the island.
11. The Avenue of the Baobabs is a popular attraction and one of the most visited sites. This aisle of trees features baobabs more than 800 years old and 30 meters (98 feet) tall.
12. Tourism is a young, but growing industry and centers largely around nature and outdoor activities. Things to do include Tsingy de Bemaraha (the largest nature reserve), Tsingy de Ankarana reserve, Morondava, Ranomafana National Park, Masoala National Park, Isalo National Park (the Malagasy Grand Canyon), Andasibe Park, whale watching on Ile Ste Marie, Royal Hill of Ambohimanga (a historical village), Nosy Be island, Lemurs Park, swimming and surfing on the great beaches.