A little larger than California, Madagascar is the world's fourth largest island after Greenland, New Guinea, and Borneo. With its location in the western Indian Ocean, Madagascar is about as far away from the west coast of the United States as one can get. Flying to Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, from San Francisco covers about 11,000 miles or 17,700 km and takes a minimum of 23 hours of flight time.

Madagascar can be divided into five geographical regions: the east coast, the Tsaratanana Massif in the north, the central highlands, the west coast, and the southwest. The central highlands run the length of the island and range from 2,600 to 5,800 feet (800 to 1,800 meters) in altitude. The Tsaratanana Massif region at the north end of the island has the highest mountain on the island.

Madagascar is often called the "Great Red Island" because of its red soils, which are generally poor for agriculture.

Madagascar also has some interesting limestone formations in the west and north. Known as tsingy, these formations result from years of rainfall, which causes the limestone base to erode.

NASA satellite image of Madagascar.

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