Forgotten World (102): Madagascar

Madagascar is the world’s fourth biggest island after Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo and it is located off the south-east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. The 17 million Malagasy are thought to be descendants of Africans and Indonesians who settled on the island more than 2,000 years ago. Madagascar gained independence in 1960.
The World Bank has estimated that 70% of Malagasy live on less than $1 per day and many areas suffer food shortages. Madagascar is to benefit from a G8 pledge to write off debts of 18 poor countries.
As a result of its isolation, the main island is home to 5% of the world’s plant and animal species; most of its mammals, half its birds, and most of its plants exist nowhere else on earth. However, poverty and the competition for agricultural land have put pressure on the island’s dwindling forests, home to much of Madagascar’s unique wildlife and key to its emerging tourist industry.

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