Around 135 million years ago Madagascar separated from the supercontinent of Gondwana and subsequently detached from all other landmasses, leaving its ecology to evolve completely independently from the rest of the world. This natural isolation means that over 80 percent of the country’s flora and fauna exist nowhere else on the planet, making Madagascar a truly special place, and a naturalists dream come true – an eighth continent.
These unique ecosystems are spread over a wide variety of terrains and microclimates: desert and spiny forest in the south, rainforests in the east, tropical dry forests in the west and a high plateau in the centre stretching up to the mountainous north. While the climate is largely tropical, there are distinct variations according to altitude and other geographical and geological factors.
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The ethnicity of the island is predominantly Austronesia and East African Bantu with some Arab influence, however the most famous endemic denizens on the island are the lemurs – 99 different species in all shapes, sizes and hues. There are over 12,000 species of plant including 170 different species of palms, 960 orchid species and six of the world’s eight different baobabs. Madagascar’s wildlife rates among the best in the world in terms of diversity, abundance and approach ability, it is simply impossible to convey the scale of the extraordinary natural bounty found on this Island, the fourth largest in the world. Tropical Africa as a whole has only three times the plant species in an area 35 times the size, giving some idea of the truly precious environment that is Madagascar.
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The conservation of the island’s biological resources is key to its national development, if ever there was a place to support eco-tourism, it would be Madagascar. Combining lemurs, diving and extraordinary landscapes, with Malagasy hospitality, a safari to Madagascar is a wonderful adventure that will appeal to the naturalist and inner explorer.
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