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Geography and Landscape

Basic information
Official languageFrench, Malagasy
Area587.041 kmĀ²
Population28,907,015  (2021)
Currencyariary  (MGA)

Geography and Landscape


Madagascar (officially: French: République de Madagascar, or Madagascar: Repoblikan 'i Madagasikara) is located 400 km east of Africa's east coast, along the Mozambique Strait. Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world after Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo. The surface covers 587,041 km² and Madagascar is therefore slightly smaller than France and Belgium combined. From north to south the greatest distance is 1580 km, from east to west the greatest distance is 579 km. The highest point in Madagascar is the Maromokotro, 2876 meters high.

Madagascar Satellite PhotoMadagascar Satellite PhotoPhoto: Public domain


Madagascar is also called the "red island", a reference to the reddish brown earth. Madagascar has a very varied landscape because of the central mountain ridge that runs across the island.

To the north is the mountainous region of Montagne d'Ambre with forests full of ferns, palms and other enormous trees.

A little further south is the largely volcanic Ankarantra Mountains with many caves, caverns, limestone formations and subterranean rivers. It continues to the north and south with an average elevation of 1500 meters. Madagascar's highest peak is the Maromokotro in the Tsaratanana massif (2876 m). The east coast is tropically humid and you will find tropical rainforests here.

Height differences in MadagascarHeight differences in MadagascarPhoto: Sadalmelik in the public domain

The southwestern tip of Madagascar is a very dry desert area with enormous thorn hedges. Between the savannah landscape in the northwest and the desert landscape in the southwest, there is another area with a steppe landscape. In the northwest, the coast has many deep inlets, in front of which are many islands.

Except in the far north and south, along the west coast there is a 15 to 110 km wide, flat and swampy coastal plain. The largest rivers are Manambolo and Tsiribihina.

Manambolo river, MadagascarManambolo river, MadagascarPhoto: Rod Waddington CC 2.0 Generic no changes made


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Greenway, P. / Madagascar & Comoros
Lonely Planet

Lanting, F. / Madagascar : een wereld verdwaald in de tijd

Rozeboom, A. / Madagaskar: mensen, politiek, economie, cultuur, milieu
Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen/Novib

Stevens, R. / Madagascar
Chelsea House Publishers

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info