Since all I’ve been doing is researching Madgascar for the last few weeks, and many of my family/friends have a bunch of questions, I thought I’d post some info about MG that I found interesting.
- The capital of Madagascar is Antananarivo, which has a population of about 1.5 million people. The city that I’m living in is about 500 km away from the capital. It takes about 7 hours to drive, or 45 minutes to fly (the roads are crap!)
- Madagascar is the the fourth-largest island in the world
- A central chain of high mountains, the Hauts Plateaux, occupies more than half of the main island and is responsible for the marked differences (ethnically, climatically and scenically) between the east and west coasts. The east coast is covered in dense rainforests, and the west coast is mainly savanah.
- Much of Madagascar’s flora and fauna is unique to the island. There are 3,000 endemic species of butterfly (I HATE BUTTERFLIES!), lemurs, monkeys, marmots, racoons, sloths, and a huge variety of reptiles, amphibians and birds. Oh, and insects. Um...Madagascar Hissing Cockroach!?!
- The official languages are Malagasy (which is related to Indonesian) and French. Local dialects are also spoken. English is not widely spoken. Those 13 years of French Immersion are FINALLY PAYING OFF!
- Visitors are advised not to wear any military-style clothing; locally it is disapproved of and could lead to detention. Guess I’ll have to leave my camouflage booty shorts at home…
- The Madagascans are known for being extremely hospitable and welcoming. I hope to learn a little something from them!
- Currency is the Malagasy Ariary. $1 CDN ~1753 Ariary. Anyone that’s travelled with me knows that even though I’m an accountant – I can’t convert currency in my head. Give me an accounting problem, I’m all over it. Ask me to convert 1 CDN to Pesos, and I freeze… Its an issue.
- The life expentancy averages around 55 years old. Average Canadian life expectance is over 80 years old.
- The GDP per capita is $800. More than 2/3 of the population live on less than $1.25USD/day. We are encouraged to NOT donate funds to the locals directly (but rather to social programs, if desired). This is going to be difficult. As I’m leaving my upscale resort, there will be women and children laying in the street covered in flies.