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Madagascar is big – it’s the fourth largest island on the planet, and there are 27 million people living there. It was only discovered between 250-500 AD, when the first people to live there came by canoe from islands near Malaysia. Others soon joined them and each people group set up their own kingdom. There are now about 20 different people groups in the country. The biggest group is called the Merina.

Europeans first began to settle in Madagascar in the 1600’s, and pirates ruled the eastern coast of the island. These pirates used Madagascar as a base to attack ships bringing goods back to Europe from India. In 1883, France invaded Madagascar and ruled over the island. The Malagasy weren’t happy about this, and there were two major uprisings against the French, in 1918 and 1947. But it took Madagascar until 1960 to gain independence.

Madagascar is home to an enormous number of different species of animals – roughly 200,000! 150,000 of these species can only be found on Madagascar. Madagascar is the only place in the world that you will find lemurs, and more than half the world’s chameleons live there!

Only 24% of the people living in Madagascar have access to electricity, which is one of the lowest rates in the world. It is also often hit hard by extreme weather, and it suffers an average of three cyclones each year. Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world, but in recent years it has begun to see some steady economic growth.

This game was created in Madagascar and has been played for centuries. Before French rule, so much importance was put on the game that kings and queens believed it could predict the outcome of battles. Download the board to play. You can find the instructions on page 11 of Connect Junior.

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