The main island of Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world. It is said to be home to 5% of the world's plant and animal species, 80% of which are unique to Madagascar (including the lemur family).
In 1958, the Malagasy Republic was established as an autonomous state, and full independence followed in 1960. In 1975, the name was changed to the Republic of Madagascar.
Because of the island's unique mix of flora and fauna, some ecologists refer to it as the eighth continent.