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Marine and cultural diversity reach amazing heights on this wealthy island nation to the east of Madagascar amidst the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. The world-famous white sand beaches and luxurious resorts are gateways to dazzling coral reefs where sponges, sea cucumbers and tropical fish interact in a spectacular display of life and colour. White and Red-tailed Tropicbirds, among other elegant seabirds, patrol the skies just above the productive seas. There is also hiking and mountain-climbing, allowing travellers first-hand encounters with the island’s unique terrestrial life, including the curious day geckos. As the island was uninhabited until the 16th Century, species were allowed to evolve in unhindered isolation, thus leading to a high rate of endemism. The influences of India, China, Africa, France and Britain combine to create a unique combination of ethnic traditions through varied dishes, painted temples and fascinating cultural sites.


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