The origins of the people of Madagascar are still a little mysterious. The scientists are still debating exactly when the first people arrived on the Red Island, and I'm not going to burden you with all the archaeological clues which, unless you are a specialist, are likely to send you to sleep!
The result of people from Asia and Africa coming together over a long duration of time, the Malagasy population has been inspired by these two geographic regions to create a unique culture. We will try to summarise it in a few words, despite its richness and diversity...
Mind you, the Red Island was sometimes called Eden, particularly by the early European explorers who set foot here. An entirely new land, with plant and animal species never seen before: from the huge chameleons hiding in the foliage of impenetrable jungles to the lemurs gripping from branch to branch in the baobabs of the savannah.
Brace yourself for the following: officially, there are two national languages in Madagascar: Malagasy, of course and French. That's for the simple side of things. Where it gets more complicated is that each of the 18 ethnic groups that make up the island's population has a dialect that is their own, which isn't necessarily understood by a Malagasy from another region.
It is impossible to travel to Madagascar without asking yourself about the means of transport to choose. Bush taxis are authentic but not very comfortable; planes are fast but lack charm; 4x4s are comfortable but quite expensive... you choose!
You should know that several religions coexist in Madagascar, in various proportions. Following European colonisation, Christianity was introduced on the island and populations were converted, but that doesn't mean traditional beliefs have disappeared.