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Madagascar Archive

Madagascar, land of incredible friendly Malagasy people, lemurs, tortoises, baobabs, and more biodiversity than the whole of Africa combined, was my home for just shy of one year of my life. Peace Corps is a unique experience. This page contains information on Madagascar and a general day to day picture of my life there. First, I would like to say that my welcome to Madagascar was incredible- people are friendly, quick to laugh and smile, and generally curious, kind, and patient as I learn to function in a more subtle culture than the one I left at home. Madagascar hosts all kinds of natural treasures, its most prized possession by far are the Malagasy people who call this Island home. I was honored to be a guest there, and hope that I can somehow repay the kindness and generosity I was shown.

Madagascar- Topography, Climate, etc.

Most of Madagascar lies north of the Tropic of Cancer, placing it firmly in the “tropical island” category. A chain of mountains runs along the Eastern side of the country. These mountain chains and their surrounding plateaus to the west make up the Highlands of Madagascar. Merina people claim their ancestry in this region, and in the winter months of March through September it can get fairly cold, considering it is a tropical environment, with temperatures reaching as low as the 30s in the higher elevations. Antananarivo, the capital city, is located in this region.

Coming out of the highlands to the south, the climate dries, with a distinct rainy season and distinct dry season. Some parts of the island are draught prone, with the worst areas suffering from chronic drought conditions for several years. Tulear and Fort Dauphin are located in the southwest.

The east coast gets rain more often than Seattle (and in some places in more volume) and is also prone to suffering from seasonal cyclones. The chain of mountains that runs along the Eastern part of the island helps to trap the moisture coming off of the Indian Ocean. Most of Madagascar’s forests are located in this region.

Best for last: the North of Madagascar includes the city of Diego Suarez. They speak a dialect of Malagasy that combines the French, Comoros, and Arabic languages. The main ethnic group is Antakarana, who are descendents of people who emigrated from Comoros some time ago. The north is known for sugar cane, vanilla, clove, ylang ylang, cocoa, and coffee production. There are also a concentrated number of goat herders in the North, who I am particularly excited to live around.

For more information on Madagascar the CIA worldfactbook and BBC world pages give broad overview with more specific information. Please write with any requests for information to be added here.

Politics (or not)

Madagascar has been the victim of several coups, or less than democratic power changes, since its independence from France. The first presidential election since the 2009 coup will be this year. Peace Corps has very strict rules about volunteers not discussing politics. It is unlikely that the election this year and any turmoil surrounding it will force us to evacuate. The Peace Corps Madagascar staff are all incredibly on point, and I feel very comfortable trusting them in the event of an evacuation. It is more likely that I will be evacuated due to a cyclone than a coup, and again, Peace Corps has very professional and reliable means for evacuating volunteers in emergencies.

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