Madagascar is a group of African islands in the Indian Ocean, off the African coastline. It is abundant in beautiful and unique animal life. It is also home to a plethora of birdlife and plant species. Over recent years, Madagascar has become increasingly popular amongst tourists who recognise its natural, cultural and historical value as a destination.

In terms of its natural abundance, Madagascar boasts 12 000 different species of plants, of which 10 000 are endemic to the island. Many animals have made the gorgeous island of Madagascar their home. These include the unique primate species of lemur, which are only found in this area of the world. Other one-of-a-kind animals include hissing cockroaches and Dracula ants.

Image of Beach near Fort Dauphin, Madagascar.
Beach near Fort Dauphin, Madagascar.

Its stunning coastline stretches for 5000 km; ideal for visitors from all over the world who wish to relax in sandy, sun-kissed bliss. Nosy Be comprises several Madagascan islands with stunning beaches. Nosy Iranja and Mitsio Isles are two of the most popular spots in terms of gorgeous beaches. Andilana beach is situated at the northernmost tip of Nosy Be and is the easiest beach to access for visitors. Ile Ste-Marie is also highly recommended. These coves are particularly tropical in appearance. The beaches are excellent for swimming and snorkelling, exploring the famous coral reefs, or simply relaxing on and watching the whales migrating between July and October each year.

Madagascar is also rich in a cultural sense. There are over 18 ethnic groups that make up the heritage of this island. These, as well as the many other nationalities who have settled on these shores, have become well known for their hospitality, which is extended to the tourists visiting Madagascar. Visitors are encouraged to witness a Hira Gasy performance, a 5-themed show that includes singing, dancing and narration. The themes usually focus on farming, social issues, weddings and / or family life. Every seven years, the Antambahoaka tribe in Mananjary, Madagascar, throw a party that lasts for an entire four weeks. This is called the Sambatra and is a celebration based on the circumcision ritual. These celebrations display the tribal roots of this civilisation, which provides tourists with a first-hand encounter of the local custom.

Image of the Madagascar Plains.
Madagascar Plains.

The Tsiafajovona Mountain towers an impressive 2643 metres and is one of the highest mountains on the island. Another popular tourist hotspots is the Ambohidratrimo Palace, with its royal tombs and decorated stones. Tana, officially known as Antananarivo, boasts the Queen’s Palace, Analakely market and the gorgeous Tsimbazaza Zoological & Botanical Gardens. The Andisabe Nature Reserve, several other national parks, and the Waterfalls of Ambavaloza and Andriamamovoka will delight nature lovers from the world over.

In addition to these natural and cultural wonders, Madagascar is also a fantastic destination for eco-tourists and adventure travellers. It is secluded enough to entertain honeymooners and fun enough for the entire family. Surely then, Madagascar makes for the ideal holiday destination.

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Effects Of Climatic And Environmental Changes On Ancient African Civilisations

Hundreds of thousands of years ago, the entire planet earth looked very different to what modern man experiences today. Continents were not yet divided, and the vegetation and animals were different. Significantly, the climate was also vastly different to what it is today. Climate plays an integral role in determining the plants and animal that live in a certain areas, as well as how habitable a place is for human beings.

In fact, even the theory of the evolution of man was dependent largely on the climatic influences on our ancient ancestors. It is hypothesised that the ancient versions of man were forced to walk upright, lose body hair and develop their coordination for survival in a changing environment. New skills also needed to be learned as farming techniques and living habits had to be adapted.

Ancient Africa experienced major vacillations between mega-droughts and Ice Ages, although these fluctuations occurred over thousands and thousands of years. As humans continued to develop and evolve through these phases, they needed to make major adaptations, not only to their ways of life, but also to their personal body structure. Prior to 135 000 years ago, the whole of Africa was lush and fertile, with a tropical climate. Then, the most intense mega-drought ever to occur hit the continent in the period referred to as the early part of the Late Pleistocene epoch. This is believed to have led to the migration of most of our human ancestors into other areas that were more habitable and fertile. Lake Malawi has been used by scientists as a rain gauge to ascertain water levels in ancient times. Research has shown that, during this mega-drought, the lake’s level dropped at least 1968 feet, or 600 metres! Evolutionists claim that this severe lack of water not only pushed ancient man from the area, it also forced aquatic animals (such as fish) to develop the facilities to be able to survive on dry land, thus evolving into land animals.

As people flocked out of the continent, only a very small proportion of this specific generation remained. Humankind as we know it is widely believed to have come from these few remaining on the continent, who evolved significantly and in response to the climatic changes.

These conditions continued until about 70 000 years ago, when the climate was again characterised by wetter conditions. These led to the growth and renewal of fresh vegetation, as well as an increased water supply to the region. More people were in the area during this time of abundance, and the population grew. This increase in numbers eventually led to migrations due to space limitations and the ownership of land.

Then, about 20 000 years ago, an Ice Age overcame the entire earth. This meant that the planet underwent a long-term period of cold temperatures over most of its surface. In places like North America and Eurasia, giant ice sheets covered enormous proportions of the land, making it impossible to farm and, sometimes, even live in these areas. This final Ice Age lasted for about 9 500 years. It forced most of the populations to migrate to the highlands, where they would be relatively protected from the ice sheets. Again, these civilisations had to adapt their farming methods, and change their diet, social habits, clothing and migratory patterns. This forced an evolution to a certain extent. Body hair was necessary to keep people warm, their skin lightened due to a lack of the harsh rays of the sun that they experienced during the mega-droughts, etc…

When this Ice Age came to an end 10 500 years ago, areas like the Sahara were left fertile and healthy. This made it and the other areas like it the ideal spots in which to settle as ancient man began to descend from the highlands. Animals and plants thrived in this environment, which made it very desirable in the eyes of mankind. The abundance of food, water and sunshine again changed the habits and physical structures of our earliest forefathers.

These conditions lasted for some time, but the Sahara in particular continued to experience fluctuations between humid and dry conditions. These eventually left the entire area unable to yield crops or sustain life for any extended period of time. Today, it remains a large stretch of desert. Then, approximately 2500 years ago, the group of people who had made their home in the Sahara began to follow the direction of the Nile River, which held promise of a rich water supply. The arid conditions of the Sahara and its surrounds continue to the present day.

Africa has, since prehistoric times, proven to be a place of fascination, life and evolution. Changes in the climate were often dramatic, and these were, to a great extent, responsible for determining the ancient civilisations that inhabited this vast continent. It is no wonder that many researchers and scientists maintain that Africa is the Cradle of Mankind, and research continues to yield fascinating evidence of this theory.