Madagascar Geography

By | May 4, 2021

The island of Madagascar, located off the southeast coast of Africa, is a country full of puzzles and wonders, characterized by the uniqueness of its flora and fauna, but also by the special cultural identity of its residents, which is fraught with many problems, but also comes up with a zest for life and an atmospheric history can. The poverty of the population and the threat to nature are the greatest current obstacles to development on the “Red Island”.

Official name: Republic of Madagascar

Area: 587,295 km²

Residents: 26.26 million (2018)

Growth of population: 2.71% (2018)

Seat of government: Antananarivo (French Tanarive)

Official languages: Malagasy (Malagasy); French

Regional languages: Different dialects of Malagasy, Swahili

Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world and is located in the western Indian Ocean southeast of Africa off the coast of Mozambique between the 12th and 26th degrees of southern latitude and the 43rd to 51st degree of longitude east. With around 600,000 square kilometers, the island state is more than 1.5 times the size of Germany and includes the main island and other smaller offshore islands.

The island impresses with its unique flora and fauna, its varied topography, extensive beaches and its tropical, red-colored soils, which gave Madagascar the name “Red Island”. The capital and largest city is Antananarivo with over 1.3 million residents. In addition to the capital, Toamasina, Antsirabe and Fianarantsoa are bigger cities.

The CIA World Factbook, the World Bank and the UN provide general basic data on Madagascar. The Malagasy Institute National de la Statistique (INSTAT) provides data that mainly relate to demographic and population-related conditions. UNDP provides up-to-date information on Madagascar’s Human Development Index.

According to businesscarriers, the name “Madagascar” for the island probably goes back to Marco Polo, who named the island after Mogadishu (Arabic Moqadišu) around 1298 while exploring the East African coast. The origin of the name is justified by a failed or inaccurate transcription of the Arabic name. In 1492, the German cartographer Martin Behaim took over the name and recorded an island on the globe called “Madagascar Insula”.

There are a number of interesting documentaries about Madagascar, which primarily emphasize the grandiose nature of the country and captivate with great pictures.


Due to its geographical location, Madagascar has a tropical climate overall. In general, there is a winter dry season (southern winter) from May to October and a summer rainy season (southern summer) from November to April. However, the varied topography of the island is responsible for the difference in precipitation amounts between the east and west, but also for regional temperature fluctuations. The south-east trade wind blowing from the Indian Oceanbrings high precipitation to the eastern area through convection on the mountain range, while over the central highlands to the west the precipitation decreases continuously. While up to 4000 mm of rain can fall per year in the east, it is only approx. 500 mm on the west coast. The mountain areas in the northeast receive the most rain, the lowlands in the southwest the least. The tropical climate has approximately evenly high temperatures of around 20 °Celsius (annual mean) all year round and has a high level of humidity. The trade wind is diverted by the mountains of the north and brings relatively high rainfall with around 2000 mm / year to the west coast (Nosy Be and Sambirano). These areas thus form climatic islands in the otherwise dry northwest, however, like the west coast, they are also subject to a dry period of around four months a year. The highland climate is characterized by clearly defined rainy seasons and cold dry months. This climatic zone extends almost over the entire ridge of Madagascar, from the Montagne d’Ambre to the south to the Isalo Mountains.

The altitude of the respective location is also decisive here. The annual mean temperature decreases according to the altitude. On average it is between 17 ° and 20 °Celsius. The heat on the west coast is far greater than in the east. The average temperature of Mahajanga is 26.6 °C. Maevatanana (between Antananarivo and Mahajanga) has the highest temperatures on the island at 27.4 ° C, due to the foehn effect of the highland winds.

The cyclones that regularly occur in the Indian Ocean between January and April are dangerous for Madagascar. The east coast and the north are particularly affected. A cyclone heralds an oppressive calm and a drastic fall in temperature. Cyclones can hit land masses at 100 to 200 km / h and cause devastating damage. The highlands and the west are hardly affected. Due to climate change and the increasing warming of the oceans, cyclones must be expected even more frequently in the future. Cyclone activity in the Indian Ocean is monitored by various bodies of the meteorological service well monitored. Météo France also gives an overview of the current weather conditions in Madagascar. Madagascar experienced the last cyclone with several deaths in December 2019.

Madagascar Climate