November 21, 2010


Madagascar's long isolation from the neighboring continents has resulted in a unique mix of plants and animals, many found nowhere else in the world; some ecologists refer to Madagascar as the "eighth continent".
Extensive deforestation has taken place in parts of the country, some due to mining operations. Slash-and-burn activity, locally called tavy, has occurred in the eastern and western dry forests as well as on the central high plateau, reducing certain forest habitat and applying pressure to some endangered species.

The Malagasy language is of Malayo-Polynesian origin and is generally spoken throughout the island. Madagascar is a francophone country, and French is spoken among the educated population of this former French colony. English, although still rare, is becoming more widely spoken, and in 2003, the government began a pilot project of introducing the teaching of English into the primary grades of 44 schools, with hopes of taking the project nationwide. Many Peace Corps volunteers are serving to further this effort and train teachers.

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