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Who Discovered Madagascar?

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This question generally means, who was the first European to discover Madagascar, the truth is this island was first settled by seafaring Indonesian people. This means that it was first discovered by people of Asian descent. The first European to set eyes on this continent was a Portuguese captain, Diogo Dias. He landed on Madagascar purely by accident, when he was blown off course on his way to India. This journey took place on August 10th, 1500 and he named the island, St. Lawrence, because it was on the holiday dedicated to the saint that he found the shore.

People of Madagascar

The population of Madagascar consists of a mixture of Austronesian, Bantu, Arabic, and South Asian descendants along with, Chinese and European peoples. The island is like no other, this is due to its early isolation from the land masses that contained Africa and India. Since the land was already populated, saying that it was discovered, is a stretch. By the middle ages, Madagascar had over a dozen ethnic identities, each one ruled by local chieftain. Some communities became wealthy and gain power by making deals with seafaring traders or pirates. In the 16th and 18th century, pirating activities on coastal areas of Madagascar was a common thing. It was a safe haven for Pirates.

He got separated from his brother

Diago Dias and his brother Bartholomew were credited with discovering a lot of the Cape Verdi along with Antonia Noli. The year was 1497, Diego Dias serving as a clerk aboard fast go back, flagship, the São Gabriel. During a routine trip around the Cape of Good Hope, Dias’s ship got separated from his brother’s ship and was never found again. While trying to find his way back to the fleet, Dias was the first European to land there but that was purely by accident. After meeting the locals, he soon found that the place was called “the island of the moon” in Arabic and had already been reported to the government in 1490. He was smart enough to approach the natives with friendliness.

Dias’s adventures didn’t end there

In his attempt to find his fleet, he floundered around the vast ocean for months. He sailed in the Gulf of Aden, an area that had never been breached by Portuguese ships. Dias was not a great sailor, he sailed into unfamiliar waters, got into fights with pirates and lost most of his crew before he finally reconnected with something familiar. He never did reconnect with his fleet, he was limping home when Nicolau Coelho found him trying desperately to get back to Lisbon.

Slave traders and pirates

Since that time, the island has been used for a lot of things. In the years between 1680 and 1725, it was used by the slave traders. Because the area surrounding the island is prone to violent storms, a lot of ships were shipwrecked. These poor unfortunate souls settled down with native women to raise families or became pirates or privateers. They harried merchant ships and relieving them of their cargo. It may be that Dias would have faired better if he himself had taken this route. Madagascar is now a place that invites tourists to take advantage of its scenic beauty and natural wonder.

More on Madagascar: Facts about Madagascar.