Madagascar is the fourth largest island of the world, with a surface of 587 000 km2 (a little larger than the surface of France). She is situated in the Indian Ocean and crosses the tropic of Capricorn in the south. The island takes a strategic point and is separated by the channel of Mozambique from Africa.
Only 5 % of the surface is used for agriculture. Clearing the forests has reached such an extend that it represents a large problem for the ecology and the economy of the island. Waters are dirty the longer the more, caused by uncontrolled throwing away of wastes. Therefore there is an increasing disease risk in densely populated areas.
The big island has five climes:
- The north and northwest have annually plenty of rain during the monsoon. This period lasts from December to April. Temperatures varies between 15 to 37° C, the climate is tropical.
- A very damp climate prevails at the east-, northeast and southeast coast. The straight-line coast is annually exposed to the trade winds and the devastating cyclones during the months of January until March.
- The large west region of Madagascar is less rainy. Their endless savannahs are characteristic. There the temperatures vary between 10 to 37° C.
- In the centre is the high county, which lies between 1200 and 1500 meters. You find a Mediterranean climate with an average temperature of 20° C.
- The south of the big island has slight rainfalls and therefore much dryer. It has a desert-like climate and high variations in temperature, 6 to 40 °C.
The island stands under the influences of the trade winds and the monsoon. There are two seasons:
- The rain season (warm season) from November to April.
- The dry season (cooler season) from May to October.