Madagascar, your destination
Sunset at Antaboaka
Merina traditional dancer
Queen Palace inside of Manjakamiadana Rova - Capital city Antananarivo

Madagascar Identity Card

  • Madagascar : the Continent-Island, the 4th in the world after Groenland, Nouvelle Guinee and Borneo
  • Situated in Indian Ocean, at 400km at the East of Africa
  • Contours : West the Mozambic Canal, East the Indian Ocean
  • Area : 592.000 km²
  • Lenght : 1.580 km / Wisth : 580 km
  • Coasts : Near 5.000 km long
  • Population : the Malagasy people, differentiated and distributed by their multiple origines : Indonesia and Malaisia, Africa and Arabia.
  • Inhabitants : about 21,3 millions (21,8 persons / km²)
  • Ethnic Groups : 18
  • Langues officielles : Malagasy (a common language with many dialects) / French / English
  • Currency : Ariary (1 Euro amounts to 2.850 Ariary in last April 2013)
  • Provinces (6) : Antananarivo, Fianarantsoa, Majunga, Tamatave, Diégo-Suarez, Tulear
  • Capital : Antananarivo
  • Regime : democratic republic with presidential character (it is actually ending the transition phase for getting to the 4th Malagasy Republic)
  • Religions : 50% traditionalism / 45% christianism divided as 25% catholicism et 20% protestantism / 5% Islam
  • Average altitude : 1.600 km
  • Highest point : Tsaratanana mountain at 2.880 m altitude
  • Parts : generally, the great Island can be divided into 2 dissymetric parts separated by the dorsal spine of high plateaus : West with its great plateaus and sedimentary basin ; East marked by its littoral band, its cliffs and tropical forest.
  • National parks, reserves and protected areas :
Fruits sellers at Brickaville
The 22 regions of Madagascar
Merina people - Itasy region
Women of the West Sakalava dressed with their pareo - Menabe Region
Betsileo local guide - South of Madagascar

Regions & Malagasy Ethnics

The Great Island is subdivided in 22 regions divided up in each formerly called province :

  1. Province of Antananarivo :
    1. Regions : Itasy, Analamanga, Vakinankaratra, Bongolava
    2. Ethnic : Merina
  2. Province of Tamatave :
    1. Regions : Alaotra-Mangoro, Atsinanana, Analanjirofo
    2. Ethnics : Betsimisaraka, Sihanaka, Bezanozano
  3. Province of Diego-Suarez :
    1. Regions : Diana, Sava
    2. Ethnics : Antankarana, Sakalava, Tsimihety
  4. Province of Majunga :
    1. Regions : Sofia, Boeny, Betsiboka, Melaky
    2. Ethnics : Sakalava, Vezo
  5. Province of Fianarantsoa :
    1. Regions : Amoron'i Mania, Haute-Matsiatra, Vatovavy-Fitovinany, Atsimo-Atsinanana, Ihorombe
    2. Ethnics : Betsileo, Antaifasy, Antambahoaka, Antaimoro, Antaisaka, Tanala
  6. Province of Tulear :
    1. Regions : Menabe, Atsimo-Andrefana, Androy, Anosy
    2. Ethnics : Mahafaly, Antandroy, Masikoro, Bara, Vezo

Explanations :

  • Antaifasy : «living in banks», in East coast.
  • Antaisaka : «living in Sakalava».
  • Antankarana : «of Ankarana : cliff» ; there are especially fishers and farmers (North part).
  • Antambahoaka : of South-East, coming from Arabia and with islamic traditions
  • Antandroy : «of spines», they live in the extreme South of the Island.
  • Antaimoro: «of littoral», they are for the most part growers.
  • Bara : original Bantu, they are often zebu farmers.
  • Betsileo : «the invincibles»; they live in Fianarantsoa region (Center-East) and are excellent rice growers and  wood artisans.
  • Betsimisaraka : «don't get separated»; the most important tribe living along the East coast, they grow coffee, clove and sugar cane.
  • Bezanozano : «with many little plaits», they are often foresters in East coast.
  • Mahafaly : «who do taboos», neighbour the Antandroys, they are sculptors.
  • Masikoro : growers of the South
  • Merina : «of heights»; original Asiatic (Indonesian) marked enough, they live in the Center.
  • Sakalava : «of long valleys»; they occupy a very vast territory in all the West coast, from North till Tulear (in the West).
  • Sihanaka: «who wander in marsh», they live inAlaotra lake region, growers (North-East).
  • Tanala : «who live in the forest», they live in cliffs of the East coast, in the forest; they hold a great knowledge on medicinal plants.
  • Tsimihety: «who don't cut hairs», live in North-West, they are farmers and rice growers.
  • Vezo: they are fishermen of East Africa, installed in the South of the Island.
The King Andrianampoinimerina reigning from 1787 to 1810

Historic dates

Page in current updating. Thank you for your patience.

Malagasy cooking with wood fire, simple but delicious. To taste absolutely.
European food amon Malagasy chiefs specialities
Tropical breakfast

Malagasy gastronomy

In Madagascar, food is rich enough and varied, from exotic food till malagasy traditional simple meals, not forgetting european , chinese, indian, thaï dishes, ... stewed by professional chiefs. Also discover simple but authentic dishes of the « hotely gasy » or at inhabitant. Rice ("vary"), principal base food of Malagasy people, often goes with great typic classic as « romazava », «ravitoto ». Other Malagasy specialities to taste : camaron (« tsikorakorana »), big crab (« drakaka »), eel (« amalona »), rice water (« rano vola »). Almost everywhere in the Great Island, it is possible to find mineral water bottle.

Malagasy villageous happy dancing
Whale season from July to September
The "vakodrazana", Malagasy traditional song & dance custom

Malagasy cultures & traditions

The main cultures & traditions :

  • The « Famadihana » or dead turnaround : actually still very current and respected, especially in highlands
  • The « Tsangatsaina » : Mat flag raising with crescent and red star, every year in Antakarana region in the North
  • The « Fanompoambe » : ceremony of royal relics bathe in Sakalava Boina
  • The « Fitampoha » : ceremony of royal relics bathe in Sakalava Menabe
  • The « Sambatra » : collective circumcision, uniting Antambahoaka ethnic at Mananjary, every 7 years following a traditional astrologic calendar
  • The « Fifohazana » mouvement : waking up consisting in a big meeting of the « mpiandry » or herdsmen standing out with their white dressing and the hat with large edge and white ribbon, mainly in Betsileo region
  • The « Donia » Festival : at Nosy Be
  • The Whale Festival : at Sainte Marie from July to September generally
  • The « Madajazzcar » Festival : in Antananarivo
  • The « Batrelaky » Festival : in South-East, celebrating coffee and litchis harvest in December
Fabrication of the famous Antemoro paper of Madagascar
Initiation to a Kite-surf on Emeraude sea - Diego Suarez

Malagasy arts, distractions and sports

The main Malagasy arts, distractions and sports :

  • « Zafimaniry » art : classed world immaterial heritage by Unesco, upmarket artistic sculpture on precious wood, in Ambositra region
  • "Antemoro" paper : one of the talented specificities of Ambalavao, made with "Havoa" plant
  • "Mohair" carpet : speciality of Ampanihy region in the Great South, motif of which is inspired by especially Mahafaly and Antandroy cultures, made with local wool or imported angora
  • Wild silk or "Landibe" : Madagascar exclusivity, made with "tapia"  cocoon, endemic plant of the Island, fabric utilised for  clothing, furniture and accessory apart from shroud
  • « Savika » : zebu bullfighting typically Malagasy in Ambositra region, occuring particularly in Easter and Pentecost
  • Kite-surf : especially on turquoise blue of Emeraude sea at Diego-Suarez, and also in the South at Ambola and Anakao
  • Climbing : especially at Tsaranoro Andringitra massif (South) and the French Mountain at Diego-Suarez (North)
  • Rafting : at Andringitra and on Lily river at Itasy region
  • Canyoning : at Isalo, Sakaleona (west of Nosy Varika), at Marojejy and in Amber Mountain. Site access is often very hard.
  • Kayaking : in Nosy Be archipelago
  • Paragliding : practised in Andringitra, Itasy and some Imerina hills, because of their favourable atmospheric and thermic conditions
  • Speleo : the great Island holds many rich and picturesque caves some of which are sacred. This sport is practised especially in Ibity Antsirabe region, with ragged relief, in Ankarana massif - Dieg Suarez and at Andranoboka-Majunga.
  • Golf : some reference points : Andakana Rova Golf (RN4), Malaza Golf Club at 11km west of the Capital city, ideal for initiation, and another golf site seaside at Foulpointe Tamatave with an exceptionnal charm
  • Fishing and diving : near 5000 km of littoral coast surrounding that Great Island invite you to  discover and admire its marine fauna and flora beauty. So, at your palm and snorkel !
  • Surf & Wind-surf : some main sites internationaly well known : Vinanibe at Fort-Dauphin, Lavanono in great South, Mahambo north of  Tamatave and Sakalava Bay at Diego-Suarez
  • Sail navigation : specially in North-West region because of its favourable climate conditions, single-hulled and multihull vessels are driven by thermic wind, crossing lagoon Island-to-Island.
  • Isalo Raid : sportive trekking for 94 km free speed to cross in 36 hours maximum, with discovery of the Isalo national park. Last July 2012, that raid were at its 6th annual edition.