Exploring the magic of Madagascar

Updated 1157 GMT (1957 HKT) September 6, 2012
1 of 11
Being one of the last places on earth to be settled by humans, and because of its unique geographic location, Madagascan culture is a unique blend of influences. Errol Barnett/CNN
The country is famous for its biodiversity and unique animals such as lemurs. Aja Harris/CNN
Paddy fields are quite common throughout Madagascar. They represent a staple of the Malagasy diet, rice. They also reinforce the fact that the people can trace their ancestry to Southeast Asia. Errol Barnett/CNN
It's believed the first settlers of Madagascar were Indo-Malayan sea traders. They were followed by traders out of what is now the Middle East as well as east Africans. Aja Harris/CNN
CNN's Errol Barnett explores this fusion of cultures and asks locals how they see themselves -- more African or more Asian? Aja Harris/CNN
"The Madagascan culture isn't only Africa and Asia," says Malagasy writer Michelle Rakotoson. "We have European beliefs, Arabic beliefs, Chinese beliefs and Hindu beliefs! It's all embedded in our culture." Errol Barnett/CNN
This taxi, manufactured by the French carmaker Citroen, is an example of the country's international influence. Errol Barnett/CNN
Madagascar became independent in 1960, but many examples of the French colonial influence remain visible, especially in the architecture. French is also one of the official languages. Aja Harris/CNN
Madagascan political uncertainty has led to an economic contraction. Today, Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world where people live on generally less than two dollars a day. Errol Barnett/CNN
As a hotspot for biodiversity and with critically endangered animals surviving in this unique environment, Madagascar attracts tourists from all over the world. Aja Harris/CNN
See more from CNN anchor's Errol Barnett's entire journey through Madagsacar at Aja Harris/CNN