A Big Bird for a Big Island. You’ll find Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. A little smaller than Texas, it’s the world’s fourth biggest island.
African? Not so Much . . . Madagascar is part of Africa. But people there descend mostly from Indonesians. Madagascar also has very different animals than other parts of Africa.
Who are the Malagasy? Many Malagasy people farm. They grow rice, sugarcane, sweet potatoes, bananas, and cassava. They herd cattle called zebus. Some worship ancestors. Some follow Islam. About half are Christians.
Your House. Imagine Madagascar is your home. Where might you live? In the city, count on a rectangular house with a steep roof. In the country, expect a house of mud and wattle (sticks or other materials woven together). If you live in the eastern forest, your house will be made of bamboo and palm. On the plateau, you’ll dwell in a home made of dirt bricks with a thatched roof.
Treasures. Miners in Madagascar unearth garnet, amethyst, tourmaline, beryl, and especially sapphires.
M is for Matchless. No other place in the world is like Madagascar. Almost all the plants and animals there come only from this island nation. Lemurs live only in Madagascar. So do giant leaf-tailed geckos, spider tortoises, and Madagascan plovers. And check out the bizarre baobab (BAY-oh-bab) tree. It’s shaped like a bottle. The trunk stores water. Baobab can also be found in Africa, India, and Australia.
Poacher Problems. Many want to poach Madagascar’s rare animals. Madagascan species also face habitat loss. People cut down their rainforest home for firewood.
Language. Madagascar was once a French colony. Most residents speak Malagasy or French.