Flag of the Week: Madagascar

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Eva Hong
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Madagascar

Madagascar is an island country in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa. The nation comprises the island of Madagascar (the fourth-largest island in the world), and numerous smaller peripheral islands. Malagasy and French are both official languages of the state. The majority of the population adheres to traditional beliefs, Christianity, or an amalgamation of both.

Madagascar is also a biodiversity hotspot; over 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. However, the island's diverse ecosystems and unique wildlife are being threatened by the encroachment of the rapidly growing human population and other environmental threats. Among its rare mammals, lemurs have been characterized as "Madagascar's flagship mammal species" by Conservation International. In fact, the Duke Lemur Center has many programs and initiatives in Madagascar to preserve the lemur species there and support local economic development.

Lemur

In terms of culture, each of the many ethnic subgroups in Madagascar adhere to their own set of beliefs, practices and ways of life that have historically contributed to their unique identities. However, there are a number of core cultural features that are common throughout the island, creating a strongly unified Malagasy cultural identity. In addition to a common language and shared traditional religious beliefs around a creator god and veneration of the ancestors, the traditional Malagasy worldview is shaped by values that emphasize fihavanana (solidarity), vintana (destiny), tody (karma), and hasina, a sacred life force that traditional communities believe imbues and thereby legitimates authority figures within the community or family.

Fun fact: Contrary to the well-known animated “Madagascar” movies, lions, zebras, giraffes, and hippos are not found on the island. However, it still has a lot to offer for those wildlife lovers!

Sources: Wikipedia, Duke Lemur Center, NationFacts

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