Have you ever wondered how the island country Madagascar was discovered off the coast of Africa? The island is one of the most fascinating mysteries in history, but not many know much about the island. So, who discovered it? And how did it happen in the first place?

One of history’s biggest fascinations

Anthologists can’t get enough of Madagascar’s fascinating history. After all, the island remained aloof for thousands of years. No one noticed it off the coast of Africa. How is that even possible?

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But contrary to what you might think, Madagascar wasn’t discovered by famous explorers, like Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo, or Juan Ponce de Leon. Instead, the island was discovered by a group of Indonesian women.

Colonized 1,200 years ago, but still a mystery

Madagascar was colonized 1,200 years ago by a group of mainland Africans, but also by Indonesian women, who live 5,000 miles away. How did they discover Madagascar and just how many women were involved in the discovery?


That’s the question on the minds of molecular biologists at New Zealand’s Massey University. In a study led by Murray Cox, scientists studied DNA samples offered by 266 people from three ethnic Malagasy groups to see how many had Polynesian traits in their DNA. This research would help determine just how many Indonesian women helped discover the island.

Considering the theories

Scientists determined that about 30 Indonesian women helped found Madagascar. Anthropologists participated in the study and also determined that the settlement began around 830 AD. There are many theories about how these women discovered the island in the first place.


One idea suggests is that the women arrived in trading ships and they used Madagascar as a formal trading colony. While other anthropologists are confident the discovery was accidental, they believe the Indonesian women loved the island’s perfect location between Africa and Polynesian countries.

The rest is history.