Located South of the equator, in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar is the world’s 5th island in size (587 295 km2) after Australia, Groenland, Papua New- Guinea and Borneo. 1 600 km long and 570 km wide, the « Big Island » or « Red Island » counts 23.812.681 inhabitants (2013 census).
Madagascar is an eminent member of the Vanilla Island Association gathering all the Indian Ocean’s major islands: The Comoros, The Seychelles, The Maldives, Mauritius, Reunion… and of course Madagascar!
In terms of tourists, it only counted 244.321 tourists in 2015 but with an average length of stay of 20 days. Tourism officially only contributes to 5.4% of GDP today in a country where more than 90% of the population lives on less than $2 (USD) per day. World-clas asets Madagascar has an immense tourism development potential, notably in the area of cultural ecotourism, with a lavish nature and an exceptional endemicity of more than 80% for the flora and over 90% for the fauna. It is one of the richest countries in terms of land, as well as, marine biodiversity. The country boast of 7 species of baobabs, 6 of which can only be found in Madagascar, 290 birds of which 105 are specific to the Island and 105 species of lemurs. Other unique features include 700 Km of splendid coral reef (the world’s 3rd longest) and 5,500Km of beautiful coastline- the longest in Africa (more than Mauritius, The Maldives, The Seychelles and Sri Lanka combined!).
It is also a paradise for adventurers and nature lovers: scuba diving and snorkelling, kite surf and sailing, climbing and speleology, rafting, hiking, biking and ornithology. Madagascar counts among the world’s best diving sites, magnificent
lagoons, calm bays and stunning archipelagos in the West for sailing. Long and splendid canals are located in the East for yachting. The Big Island has a rich cultural heritage – a unique blend of Asian, African, Arab, and European cultures, a kaleidoscope of historic sites, of cultural festivals, of music, arts & crafts.
Finally, it boasts a deliciously perfumed and refined cuisine, inspired by this mix of cultural influences and plentiful natural ingredients found on the island. It has been granted so far 3 UNESCO Heritage Sites, a strong and internationally renowned brand for an exotic and beautiful destination thanks to the popularity of vanilla, and King Julian & the world famous cartoon Madagascar! Exceptional nature reserves 43 Protected Areas (national parks) are spread over a land of more than 2 million hectares out of which 7 are listed as World Heritage, 10 sites of humid zones RAMSAR listed and 3 high quality reserves of biosphere. These areas contain of course numerous endemic animal and plant species.