| || Nosy Nato Island wraps itself around the end of Nosy Boraha, a long, narrow island that stretches for 57 kilometers (35 miles) off the east coast of Madagascar to the north of Toamasina, the country’s main port. Fringed with coral beaches and tropical forests, Nosy Nato owes its name to the nato tree once used for building dugout canoes. The island’s greatest claim to fame is that in the seventeenth century it was the hideout of a community of pirates who held sway not only over the Indian Ocean but over all the seas. The development of maritime police forces had forced pirates to withdraw to hideouts that were remote yet not too distant from the trade routes on which they preyed. Nosy Boraha was an ideal base from which to ambush merchant ships plying between Europe and the Orient as they rounded the Cape of Good Hope. The pirates were not the only ones to defy international law. In the eighteenth century they were joined by a group of utopians led by a Provençal intellectual named Misson and a priest called Caraccioli, who founded the short-lived Republic of Libertalia in the Bay of Antseranana (Diégo-Suarez), north of Nosy Boraha.
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