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Info Antananarivo


Antananarivo also known by its French colonial shorthand form Tana, is the capital and largest city in Madagascar.

The city is located 1,280 m (4,199 ft) above the sea level in the center of the island, and has been the island's largest population center since at least the 18th century.

Antananarivo was historically the capital of the Merina people, who continue to form the majority of the city's estimated 1,300,000 inhabitants. All 18 Malagasy ethnic groups, as well as residents of Chinese, Indian, European and other origins, are well represented in the city.

Antananarivo is the political, economic, educational and cultural heart of Madagascar. The Presidency, National Assembly, Senate and Supreme Court are located here, as are 21 diplomatic missions and the headquarters of many national and international businesses and NGOs. Antananarivo also hosts the largest number of universities, nightclubs, art venues, medical services and other social service institutions of any city on the island.

POPULATION : City: 1,613,375 /  Metro: 3,000,000
FOUNDED :  1610 or 1625
TIME ZONE : East Africa Time (UTC+3)  
LANGUAGE : English (official), French (official), Malagasy (official)
RELIGION : indigenous beliefs 52%, Christian 41%, Muslim 7%
AREA : 88 km2 (34 sq mi)
ELEVATION : 1,276 m (4,186 ft)
COORDINATES : 18°56′S 47°31′E
SEX RATIO : Male: 49.83% 
 Female: 50.17%
ETHNIC : Malayo-Indonesian (Merina and related Betsileo), Cotiers, French, Indian, Creole, Comoran
DIALING CODE : (+261) 023
WEBSITE : Official Website


The tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Antananarivo is extensive and highly significant to regional and national populations. The city has numerous monuments, historic buildings, sites of significance and traditions related to the customs and history of the central highlands people.

The arts scene in Antananarivo is the largest and most vibrant in the country. Madagascar's diverse music is reflected in the many concerts, cabarets, dance clubs and other musical venues throughout Antananarivo. In the dry season, outdoor concerts are regularly held in venues including the Antsahamanitra amphitheater and Mahamasina Stadium.

The city centre is focused on Avenue de L'Independence. Restaurants and shops line both sides of the road and it's the place to go if you want to visit a restaurant or decent cafe, including a good pizzeria and a take-away pizza restaurant. There are also internet cafes and photo-printing facilities. Shops for the Maki and Baobab clothing brand shops can be found a few streets away. The main attraction for this area is the large central market, which includes a covered section selling bags, jewellery and clothing at relatively cheap prices (remember to haggle). Outside there's a plethora of fruit, vegetable and spice stalls.

Outside the centre there is a dedicated tourist market which has about 30 stalls selling souvenirs and local crafts. Definitely worth a visit, due to the decline in tourists since the 2009 coup the place will likely be dead, and some bargains can be picked up.

There are many large western style supermarkets notable the chain 'Jumboscore', any taxi driver can take you here. However, most stock is imported from abroad and so include a significant mark up (although most goods are still below European prices). For fresh goods like fruit and vegetables, significant savings can be made by buying them from the local markets stalls dotted throughout the city.


Unlike most capital cities in southern Africa, Antananarivo was already a major city before the colonial era.The city was established in around 1610 or 1625 according to varying accounts. Early Merina kings used fanampoana (statute labor) to construct a massive system of irrigated paddy fields and dikes around the city to provide adequate rice for the growing population. These paddy fields, of which the largest is called the Betsimitatatra, continue to produce rice.

Successive Merina sovereigns ruled over the Kingdom of Imerina from Analamanga through King Andriamasinavalona's reign. This sovereign gave the growing city its current name; he established the Andohalo town square outside the town gate, where all successive sovereigns delivered their royal speeches and announcements to the public, and assigned the names of numerous locations within the city based on the names of similar sites in the nearby village of Antananarivokely.

Upon Andriamasinavalona's death in 1710, Imerina split into four warring quadrants and Antananarivo was made the capital of the southern district. During the 77-year civil war that followed, the eastern district's capital at Ambohimanga rose in prominence.The last king of Ambohimanga, Andrianampoinimerina, successfully conquered Antananarivo in 1793; he reunited the provinces of Imerina, ending the civil war. He moved the kingdom's political capital back to Antananarivo in 1794,and declared Ambohimanga the kingdom's spiritual capital, a role it still maintains.

The French military invaded Antananarivo in September 1894, prompting the queen's surrender after a cannon shell blasted a hole through a building at the Rova, causing major casualties. The damage was never repaired. Andohalo square was remodeled to feature a gazebo, walkways and planted landscaping. Claiming the island as a colony, the French administration retained Antananarivo as its capital and transcribed its name as Tananarive.

After independence in 1960, the pace of growth increased further. The city's population reached 1.4 million by the end of the 20th century; in 2013, it was estimated at nearly 2.1 million.


Antananarivo has a subtropical highland climate characterized by mild, dry winters and warm, rainy summers.

The city receives nearly all of its average annual rainfall between November and April. Frosts are rare in the city; they are more common at higher elevations. Mean temperatures range from 20.5 °C (68.9 °F) to 14.1 °C (57.4 °F).


Antananarivo is situated approximately 1,280 m (4,199 ft) above sea level in the central highlands region of Madagascar, at 18.55' South and 47.32' East.

The city is located centrally along the north-south axis of the country, and east of center along the east-west axis. It is 160 km (99 mi) from the east coast and 330 km (210 mi) from the west coast. The city occupies a commanding position on the summit and slopes of a long, narrow, rocky ridge extending north and south for about 4 km (2 mi) and rising to about 200 m (660 ft) above the extensive rice fields to the west.


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