55 Interesting Facts About Madagascar

Last updated on October 29th, 2022


36. The name Antananarivo is derived from the French and is pronounced (tananaʁiv). It is the largest city and the capital of Madagascar. The urban area that surrounds the city is Antananarivo-Renivohitra and is the capital of Analamanga. With most of the cities in Madagascar being extremely small in comparison to other areas in the world, Antananarivo, being the largest, is not as large as you may think.

37. The city was founded in 1610, at which point the Merina King Andrianjaka expelled all the Vazimba inhabitants out of Analamanga, where he then declared it the site of his capital. It was later renamed Antananarivo by King Andriamasinavalona. The name means ‘City of The Thousand’ in memory of the fallen soldiers. It appears that most cities, especially small ones like this, commemorate their fallen heroes by way of erecting symbolic names, or statues.

Antananarivo - Madagascar
Antananarivo – Madagascar. Image credit – Francesco Veronesi

38. Antananarivo is the place to see when in Madagascar. There are over 5000 churches/buildings in and around the city, including a Roman Catholic cathedral and an Anglican church building. This city has more nightclubs, universities, medical services, and art venues than any other city in the region. Even though nightlife may not be at the top of the list here, you are sure to be able to worship wherever you choose.


39. Mahajanga is an administrative city situated on the northwest coast of the Island of Madagascar. This city is a major tourist attraction where guests can enjoy walks along the coconut-lined boardwalk. The weather is fantastic 8 full months of the year, with almost no rainfall at all.

40. Mahajanga is the second most important seaport in Madagascar, with Toamasina being the first. The terminal allows for small freighters and container ships with a mass of not more than 150 tons. Ships that are deeper need to anchor outside of the marine terminal, where their cargo has to be transported via barges into the terminal. The harbors may not be one of the biggest in the world, but they definitely get the job done.

41. Mahajanga was formally known as Majunga had an estimated population of 100,807 in 1993. Even though it has a shallow harbor, it is one of the nation’s important ports.

42. Mahajanga has cement, food, and sisal processing industries. There are also plans that produce rice, coffee, sugar, and they have a pretty good fishing industry as well.

43. This city was once the capital of the Sakalava kingdom, which was booming in the 18th century. France occupied the city from 1883 – 1885 and took it back in 1894. Many people from Comoros immigrated to Mahajanga until riots in 1976 and 1977 when the immigrants were then deported.


44. The average weather in Amparafaravola has a very muddy and overcast winter but when it comes to the dry season, it is warm pretty much all year long. The temperature varies between 53°F to 85°F and almost never drops below 49°F or goes above 90°F.

45. Amparafaravola is a commune and town located in Madagascar. Amparafaravola is part of Alaotra-Mangoro Region and the population was around 47,000 when the census was done in 2001. This small place does offer primary and secondary schooling, as well as hospital access to all of the citizens.


46. Antsirabe is a town situated in the middle of Madagascar. It is perched on the slopes of Tsiafajavona – the second-highest peak in the Ankaratra mountains. There are thermal springs here and this is what was the reason why a health resort was established here in 1923.

Antsirabe, Madagascar
A roadside view of Antsirabe, Madagascar. Interesting facts about Madagascar. Image credit – Antony Stanley

47. The region has a rail line that is used to transport the many grapes, apples, dairy, poultry, and pork products that are produced there. There are also industries in the town that include cigarette making, weaving, and spinning, and food processing.


48. Toamasina was once known as Tamatave and it is the main port city of Madagascar. This little gem is situated on the east coast of the northern part of the island’s spectacular rainforest.

49. You can find loads of unique fauna and flora here, as well as plantations of vanilla, coffee, banana, clove, lychee, and coconut. In the city, you will not only find old colonial building right next to brand new hotels, but you will also be amazed at the boulevards lined with palm trees.

50. Toamasina is the perfect spot for tourists but be warned that there is a real possibility that you could witness a real cyclone while in the city.


51. Ambovombe is in the Androy Region, where there is a town known as Ambohimalaza. It was recorded in 2001 that there were only about 8,000 people in this little commune.

52. The area only has primary schools available. Almost half of the working population raises livestock or farms, with the most important crops being maize and sweet potatoes. Cowpeas and cassava are also important agricultural products for the region.

53. Ambovombe is the poorest place in Madagascar, but yet it is not deemed to be poor enough to qualify for aid. This is based on a study done in 2015.


The bricks factory - Fianarantsoa - Madagascar
Interesting facts about Madagascar. A bricks factory in Fianarantsoa, Madagascar. Image credit – Francesco Veronesi

54. Fianarantsoa is a town situated in east-central Madagascar. This little town was discovered in 1830 and lies on the eastern end of the escarpment and is at about 4,000 feet above sea-level. It is surrounded by woodlands and is situated in the middle of the richest tea and wine-producing region in Madagascar.

55. The University of Fianarantsoa, that was established in 1988 is here. This is where all the future genius’s on the Island go to gain their knowledge. There are a number of highways and railway connects that connect this town to larger areas such as Toliara, Antananarivo, and Manakara. According to stats from 2014, there are around 195,500 people that inhabit this area.

Madagascar – country at a glance

Independence26 June 1960 (from France)
Capital CityAntananarivo
(18°55′S 47°31′E)
Largest CityAntananarivo
(18°55′S 47°31′E)
Areatotal: 587,041 sq km
land: 581,540 sq km
water: 5,501 sq km
Population28,172,462 (2022 est.)
Official LanguageMalagasy and French
BordersIsland country
CurrencyMalagasy ariary (MGA)
Literacy rate74.8%
Mean elevation615 m
DemonymMalagasy and Madagascan
Suffrage18 years of age; universal
ReligionChristianity and Islam
Life expectancy at birth68.17 Years (2022)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
National anthem"Ry Tanindraza nay malala o" (Oh, Our Beloved Fatherland)
Government typesemi-presidential republic
PresidentAndry Rajoelina
Prime MinisterChristian Ntsay
Climatetropical along coast, temperate inland, arid in south
Terrainnarrow coastal plain, high plateau and mountains in center
Mean elevation615 m
Lowest pointIndian Ocean 0 m
Highest pointMaromokotro 2,876 m
Natural resourcesgraphite, chromite, coal, bauxite, rare earth elements, salt, quartz, tar sands, semiprecious stones, mica, fish, hydropower
National symbolstraveller's palm, zebu
National colorsred, green, white
National holidayIndependence Day, 26 June (1960)
Agricultural land71.1%
Birth rate28.68 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)
Death rate6 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)
Sex ratio1 male(s)/female (2022 est.)
Industriesmeat processing, seafood, soap, beer, leather, sugar, textiles, glassware, cement, automobile assembly plant, paper, petroleum, tourism, mining
Exports$4.09 billion (2019 est.)
vanilla, nickel, gold, clothing and apparel, gemstones (2019)
Imports$4.7 billion (2019 est.)
refined petroleum, rice, cars, packaged medicines, clothing and apparel (2019)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$1,500 (2020 est.)
Time ZoneEAT (UTC+3)
Internet country code.mg
Calling Code+261
Drives on theRight
Table last updatedAugust 10, 2022