What’s inside this crater in Madagascar?

What’s inside this crater in Madagascar?

On satellite imagery, we spotted a village inside a strange crater in Madagascar. We set out to learn how it got there.

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Right in the center of the island nation of Madagascar there’s a strange, almost perfectly circular geological structure. It covers a bigger area than the city of Paris — and at first glance, it looks completely empty. But right in the center of that structure, there’s a single, isolated village: a few dozen houses, some fields of crops, and dirt roads stretching out in every direction.

When we first saw this village on Google Earth, its extreme remoteness fascinated us. Was the village full of people? How did they wind up there? And what did life look like in such a strange geography? To find out, we teamed up with a local team in Madagascar and fell down a rabbit hole of geology and mapping along the way. It’s a story of how continental shifts and volcanic geology came together to form a place for a group of people to call home.

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24 Responses

  1. @reywashere5284 says:

    I lived in Madagascar for two years a while back. Never anywhere this isolated – I was mostly in Antananarivo and Toamasina. I learned Malagasy and made some incredible friends. It was amazing getting to relive some experiences, and I was eagerly waiting for the point in the video where the malagasy interviews would happen.
    A lot of commenters have expressed concern about the villagers being in a different ethnic region, so I’d like to give a little clarification: There is some ethnic tension on Madagascar, and definitely racism between the tribes, but intermingling is incredibly common, and the Betsileo tend to have good relations in places they move to. Most conflict comes when people are packed too close and are competing for reaources, and the Nosibe settlers are isolated enough to prevent that from being an issue.
    I would love to see as many of the interviews as possible, and hope Vox makes more of their recordings available!

  2. @MadhavKishore says:

    This was an incredible story and I understand why the villagers might have had concerns talking to the team. They might be worried about more attention on them. They might not have any legal ownership over the land and could be worried about more people or the government looking into them. I hope that is not the case and they continue to live their peaceful life. Another things that amazes me is, the likeliness of this migration to how the humans ended up populating every corner of this world.

    • @AB-wf8ek says:

      Yes, exactly makes me think the same thing.

      So much can develope in only 15 years, imagine a few hundred. And how many human settlements like this have come and gone over the millenia? Must be countless.

    • @frobeck1487 says:

      Yeah, Madagascar is in a state of anarchy in most of the country. That would make groups have a little caution when dealing with unfamiliar people.

  3. @brianbaldomero661 says:

    This whole video needs to win awards. This is amazing journalism. Job well done Christophe, Lalie, and the whole team behind this. I hope you go win the awards you deserve.

    • @user-cb3mz9kj4l says:

      Fr, I think that the distinction between “video essay” and “documentary” is largely a matter of where it’s available – this would sure be one if it was on Netflix or what have you

  4. @Domyras says:

    i LOVE this series of “so we were on google maps just looking around and found something we couldn’t answer. Here’s how we satisfied our curiosity.”
    I don’t care if it’s just half an hour of showing how you googled well
    or if it’s “so we had to get someone to go there and spend a bunch of money getting an answer”

    this is peak human curiosity on display and it’s a sentiment i can only adore and respect.
    please don’t ever stop this series!

  5. @djfremen says:

    What makes this piece special is every step, every website, every audio file, every grainy cellphone video, was meticulously crafted into a compelling narrative; like connecting dots on a cork-board. Thanks for bringing us along for the ride! An important piece of investigative journalism.

  6. @AndrewPonti says:

    Speechless. This is the investigative journalism I come for from Vox – well produced and shot. Thank you for literally putting them on the map. I just hope they’re able to keep their preferred lifestyle in peace.

  7. @3enCarter says:

    What an amazing story and incredible journalism. Hats off to Christophe and everyone involved in the production of this video. I found myself tearing up when the village elder talked about how proud he was of his produce. Hopefully, they can get some better roads to the area soon.

    • @sandal_thong8631 says:

      They’d have to make them themselves. It reminds me of the movie _Big Fish_ where this town out in the middle of nowhere finally got its streets paved, and connected to outside roads, but then they had to pay taxes and its quality went down.

    • @eewls says:

      also, amazing of them to hire local professionals to tell their own stories

    • @lorenzoblum868 says:

      They escaped frenzy but the day they’ll have a decent road, problems will come along like they always do. Vox I appreciate most of your work but this time I’m not sure you’re going those villagers a favor…

    • @user-wc1sm8cj8s says:

      ​@@lorenzoblum868absolutely, outsiders will know there’s a land like this, move there, or even steal their land. Vox should’ve left them alone, untouched.

  8. @sergiomares9952 says:

    I usually do not comment on videos but great story Christopher. I am amazed at your efforts hiring local people to do part of your reporting instead of you traveling there as amazing that could have been. I have never thought about ethical reporting in this sense and this is a push to make sure talent is seen, as well as local degrees (such as the masters thesis student that had journeys to the crater) help can provide in narrating these touching stories. Great job

  9. @jehiahmaduro6827 says:

    I think the locals were right in being reasonably cautious of visitors. After all who really comes looking for someone out in the middle of no where. But their story was really fascinating and the answers are satisfying. Perhaps the one thing that may be desired along with the rest of the many villages in Madagascar is an all weather road. But who knows? That may also turn into a down side. The chances are the minute they get a decent road the more likely an influx of outsiders will come to set up shop and they will have to start the process of finding a new place all over again. lol

  10. @JotaceLIVE says:

    Actually one of the most heartwarming journalism I’ve seen in a good while. You can tell every single person involved in the making for this video was passionate about this mountain and its people, and it makes it be miles above in terms of production and mere journalistic work than other videos out there. Simply, bravo.

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