Conversation Starter: Where Is Madagascar?

Updated: May 15, 2019
Learn more about the country of Madagascar and the plants and animals that call this African island nation home.
107 Conversation Starter: Where Is Madagascar?

Have you seen the funny movies about the giraffe, lion, hippo and zebra? Well, if so, you may be surprised to learn that the African country of Madagascar actually has none of these animals! 

Madagascar is a large island in the south east of Africa and it is home to a lot of amazing and unique wildlife! In fact, three quarters of the animals and plants are endemic, which means they can only be found in Madagascar! For example, the country is home to many species of endangered lemur (remember party-mad King Julien?), animals that can leap up to 25 feet from tree to tree, and are protected because of their shared ancestry with us humans. Madagascar is also home to half of the world’s chameleons, and let’s not forget the fossa, which looks like a cat (and a bit like a dog!) and makes meals out of Madagascar’s lemurs and birds.

Madagascar Lemur

There are also many rare plants to be found on the island, which we use in medicine, and it’s believed Madagascar was once home to other animals like the endangered pygmy hippo and the ginormous elephant bird, which is extinct.

Island Life

Most of the 23 million people who live in Madagascar are Malagasy people who speak Malagasy and French, and are either ‘highlanders’ or ‘coast dwellers.’ The island has rich red soil and most people live and farm in the countryside, but water can be scarce and the weather prone to dangerous storms which sometimes destroys the people’s homes.


In recent years, many of the forest areas have been cut down for mining. This is bad news for the animals which live there, but most of the people are very poor and are happy for the jobs that mining brings them. 

An Old Pirate Vacation Spot

A few hundred years ago, Madagascar was used by roaming pirates as a kind of vacation spot! Some say that for a time, they even thought of it as their own country which they called Libertalia - where pirates could make up all the laws!



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