The Republic of Madagascar is an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa. The main island, also called Madagascar, is the fourth-largest island in the world, and is home to 5% of the world's plant and animal species, of which more than 80% are endemic to Madagascar.
Madagascar has long been a critical point for trade. In the early 18th century, it was a favorite haunt of pirates. In the late 19th century, it was conquered by France. It regained its independence after World War II.
Madagascar was one of the few places that the Japanese did not invade during their aggressive strikes in January 1941. Alistair Walsh deliberately scanned the London Times for news of a Japanese landing there, and found its absence to be the best comfort he had at the moment.