Why is Madagascar called the Red Island?

Known as the “red island”, Madagascar reveals its reasons for this name.

Being historians, geologists, simple curious, tourists, observers, you ask “why Madagascar is called “the red island”? In short, this name comes from several elements. Its geological, cultural, ecological and historical identity constitute the elements of the puzzle. Several theories and hypotheses concur to this curiosity. It seems to contribute everything to give the surname of red island to Madagascar.

The geology and history of Madagascar, explain the name “red island” assigned to Madagascar.

“Red Island” is a term sometimes used to designate Madagascar because of the reddish color of its soil and the mining products found there.

The island of Madagascar is composed of magmatic and sedimentary rocks. The ferralitic components degrade during erosion giving birth to red laterites. Notice this color illustrating the geological strata and the Malagasy landscape. Madagascar, being a volcanic island, also presents eruptions with red lava flows. But this last hypothesis is less common than the previous ones.

The beautiful red minerals, extracted from the mines of Madagascar during the colonial period, also carry this appellation. Rubies and garnets are among the many red stones.

Another theory is that this name is linked to the historical importance of Madagascar in the spice trade, especially red pepper.

Massive deforestation and bushfire harmful but real.

Apart from its natural wealth, Madagascar is also known for its high deforestation rates.

Slash and burn agriculture, logging for wood or charcoal, and mining are rapidly destroying the forests of Madagascar. The name “red island” is then the consequence of these events of destruction of the trees. The consequence of the destruction of this forest gives birth to red soils devoid of animals and plants.

Also observe the red at each Malagasy cultural event.

The color red occupies an important place in Malagasy traditions and beliefs. Symbolic and ritual practices are always dependent on this color.

Another element, the color red occupies an important place in Malagasy traditions and beliefs. The color red is associated with certain important symbols. Red expresses power and prestige in Malagasy culture. The clothes tinted in red are shown as an emblem of strength and vitality.

Moreover, the color red adheres to rituals and ceremonies, such as funeral and fertility festivals. This cultural dimension can also support the explanation of the nickname “the red island”.

During certain traditional ceremonies such as the Malagasy New Year celebrations, families wear red clothes. They decorate their homes with red objects to attract prosperity and luck. The zebu, a sacred animal in Madagascar, displayed with red horns during sacrifices.

In some regions of Madagascar, the red earth proper is often considered sacred. It is believed to be inhabited by spirits and ancestors, and to carry vital forces that are essential to life. Some healing and protection practices involve the use of red earth.

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