Geography of Madagascar

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Madagascar is an island in the Indian Ocean, off the eastern coast of southern Africa, east of Mozambique. It is the fourth largest island in the world. The highest point is Maromokotro, in the Tsaratanana Massif region in the north of the island, at 2,876 metres (9,436 ft). The capital, Antananarivo, is in the Hauts Plateaux near the centre of the island. It has a total area of 587,040 square kilometres (226,660 sq mi), with 581,540 square kilometres (224,530 sq mi) of land, and 5,500 square kilometres (2,100 sq mi) of water.

Madagascar originated as part of the Gondwana supercontinent. Its west coast was formed when Africa broke off from Gondwana around 165 million years ago. Madagascar eventually broke off from India about 65 million years ago.


Geographical regions

Madagascar can be divided into five general marks geographical regions: the east coast, the Tsaratanana Massif, the central highlands, the west coast, and the southwest. The highest elevations parallel the east coast.

East coast

The east coast consists of a narrow band of lowlands, about one kilometer wide, formed from the sedimentation of alluvial soils, and an intermediate zone, composed of steep bluffs alternating with ravines bordering an escarpment of about 500 metres (1,640 ft) in elevation, which gives access to the central highlands. The coastal region extends roughly from north of Baie d'Antongil, the most prominent feature on the east coast of the island formed by the Masoala Peninsula, to the far north of the island. The coastline is straight, with the exception of the bay, offering less in the way of natural harbors than the west coast. The Canal des Pangalanes (Lakandranon' Ampalangalana), an 800-kilometre (497 mi)) long lagoon formed naturally by the washing of sand up on the island by the Indian Ocean currents and by the silting of rivers, is a feature of the coast; it has been used both as a means of transportation up and down the coast and as a fishing area. The beach slopes steeply into deep water. The east coast is considered dangerous for swimmers and sailors because of the large number of sharks that frequent the shoreline.

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