1580 kms long by 570kms at its widest point. A total of 590 000 square kms
The Malagasy are of Afro-Indonesian origin, officially divided into 18 main "tribes". Other races include Indian/Pakistani, Chinese & European.
Malagasy is the first language. French is widely spoken and English is understood in most tourist areas.
Madagascar is a continent in miniature, with vastly different habitats and, like many islands, a huge number of endemic (and some very weird) species. The international conservation community has singled it out as one of the ecologically richest countries on the planet. Madagascar and the nearby Comoros have nearly one-quarter of all the flowering plants in Africa. It also has 90% of the known species of lemurs, and half the world's chameleons are found there. Add baobab trees, unique cacti and aloes from the dry areas and you start to build up a picture of an incredibly rich ecology.
Madagascar has some outstanding diving and snorkeling locations, despite the environmental pressures on many of the reefs. The best opportunities are around the islands and islets surrounding Nosy Be. The tough roads are a challenge to cycling, and cyclists will need to bring sturdy mountain bikes and a generous reserve of spares. Whale-watching is growing in popularity, and two good places to indulge are Taolognar in southern Madagascar and the west coast of Île Sainte Marie off the east coast. The hiking is excellent in many of the national parks, and opportunities for photography are, of course, unlimited.