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RACE CONCLUDED 6 SEPTNEXT ROVING RACE ECUADOR - JULY 2015

Location & Culture

LOCATION
Madagascar, sometimes known as the Eighth Continent, is the world's fourth largest island. It is located in the Indian Ocean, 400 kilometers / 250 miles off the eastern coast of Africa across the Mozambique Channel, just south of the equator. The Republic of Madagascar consists of the main island of Madagascar, as well as several small islands in its diverse archipelago. The main island is over 1,580 kilometers / 1,000 miles long and 570 kilometers / 350 miles wide. It is generally divided into five geographical regions: the east coast, the Tsaratanana Massif in the north, the central highlands, the west coast, and the southwest. The capital city of Antananarivo, or Tana as it is commonly referred to, is located in the center of the island, on the east coast side. The highest peak Maromokotro, which is 2,876 meters / 9,436 feet, is located in north tip of the island in the Tsaratanana Massif region.

 

CLIMATE AND LANDSCAPE
Madagascar’s climate is tropical along the coast, temperate inland, and arid in the south. The hot rainy season extends from November to April and the cooler dry season from May to October. The average temperatures are from 35°C / 95°F in the rainy season to 10°C / 50°F in the dry season.

The unique landscape ranges from lush rainforest, rivers and crystalline lakes to desert, savannah, huge caverns, mountains, grassland and open valleys, surrounded by thousands of kilometers of pristine turquoise shore line.

The central highlands, where the capital city of Antananarivo is located, are the most densely populated part of the island. The area is famous for terraced rice paddies, grassy hills and sub-humid forests. It is also the homeland of the ethnic group the Merina.

The west and south, which receive less rain than the central highlands, are home to baobab trees and unique spiny forests, sandstone canyons and deserts.

The east coast is a haven of wildlife and lush rainforest. The area is not easily accessible which enables dense bird populations, lemurs, Aye-Ayes and whales along the coast to live in isolation.

The northern coast of Madagascar is a backdrop for a string of islands. Inland much of the region is mountainous and blanketed in dense rainforest, which is home to a rich variety of animal, bird and plant life.

 

FLORA AND FAUNA
Madagascar is a world of its own with the unique scenery and wildlife, more than 80% of which cannot be found anywhere else. Before separation from supercontinent Gondwana 170 million years ago, Madagascar was sandwiched between the landmasses of South America and Africa, and another landmass that later on separated into India, Australia and Antarctica. Madagascar has been on its own for the past 88 million years which enabled its flora and fauna to stay endemic. The characteristics of the island are believed to be very much the same as in the prehistoric days.

Many of the typical African species, large mammals as the elephant, rhinoceros, giraffe, zebra, and antelope and predators such as lions and leopards, and a variety of venomous snakes that live on the African continent, do not exist in Madagascar. The isolated location of Madagascar has allowed old species to survive and new species unique to the island to evolve. Thus approximately 95% of Madagascar’s reptiles, 89% of its plant life and 92% of the mammals exist nowhere else on Earth. Madagascar is famous for a number endemic species, such as ringtail lemurs, chameleons, giant tortoises, geckos and vangas.

 

CULTURE
The population of Madagascar is approximately 22 million. The peaceful and friendly Malagasy ethnic group forms over 90 percent of Madagascar's population. It has eighteen ethnic sub-groups, each of which has their own beliefs, traditions and ways of life. However, there are a number of basic cultural features that are common throughout the island. In addition to a common language and shared traditional religious beliefs around their god and ancestors, the traditional Malagasy worldview is shaped by values that emphasize fihavanana (solidarity), vintana (destiny), tody (karma) and hasinia (a sacred life force). Other cultural elements commonly found throughout the island include the practice of male circumcision and widespread belief in the power of magic astrology and witch doctors.

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