Antananarivo is a real concentrate of what the island reserves in an urban framework. It is the capital of Madagascar, and is called “the City of thousands, referring to 1000 treasures to discover.
With your family on Madagascar safari, visit a “rova,” a palace of the royal era, or wander through the animal parks to discover the fauna and flora visible all around the island. In solo or in couple, there is a trek to go through the 12 sacred hills to discover the Malagasy gastronomy in one of the restaurants of the upper city. Antananarivo offers you a rich journey for young and old.
Tana, as the capital is universally known, is all about eating, shopping, history and day trips. The town centre itself, has quite some pollution and dreadful traffic. This puts off many travellerson Madagascar safari holidays from staying.
Bypassing the capital altogether would be a mistake: Tana has been the home of Malagasy power for three centuries and there's a huge amount of history and culture to discover, as well as some unexpected wildlife options.
History of Antananarivo
Antananarivo was formerly known as “Analamanga” and “Tananarive”. It is the capital of the Republic of Madagascar and its largest city. Antananarivo is located on a high plateau overlooking the Ikopa and Besiboka Rivers. In the southern part of the city lay Lake Anosy, an artificially designed lake. In 2012 Antananarivo had a population of 1.4 million and the Merina are the majority ethnic group in the region. In addition to being a political center, Antananarivo is Madagascar’s economic and cultural center.
In the Malagasy language Antananarivo means “town of a thousand.” It received its name from King Adrianjaka (1610-1630), whom many consider the first major political leader of the Merina people. In the early 1600s he established a fort and town comprised of 1,000 soldiers and their families at the location. Before the Merina army settled there the land was known as the “Analamanga” or “Blue Forest” region, which accounts for the earliest name of the town. As the Merina kingdom grew Antananarivo became an important military and agricultural center. The city’s high plateau allowed the Merina to establish a heavily militarized defense in central Madagascar. The city’s surrounding wetlands produced rice.
By the early 1700s the Merina kingdom had fractured into competing groups. To consolidate power and reunify the warring tribes, Chief Andrianampoinimerina, the king of one of the groups, attacked Antananarivo in 1794, successfully ending the rule of his uncle, the city’s leader. Andrianampoinimerina’s son, Radama I, completed the uniting of the various groups after taking control in 1810. Under his leadership the city’s population grew to 15,000 and he amassed an army of 13,000 soldiers.
By the early 1800s the Merina were aware of both European encroachment and political threats from other Madagascar kingdoms. To protect Antananarivo they briefly banned foreigners and prevented the building of roads to the city. In 1895, when the French army arrived and conquered the area following the Partition of Africa, over 50,000 people lived in the city. Also by that point enslaved Africans constituted half of the city’s population.
During colonialism the French changed the city’s name to “Tananarive” and made it the political and economic center of the entire island of Madagascar, which they now controlled. The French restructured the city’s urban layout but preserved the historic royal palaces belonging to earlier Merina rulers. In 1910 the French finished their construction of railroad lines linking the city to coastal ports.
Madagascar received its independence from France in 1960, and Tananarive became the capital of the new nation. Twelve years later in 1972 the government renamed the city “Antananarivo.” Today Antananarivo is the economic hub of Madagascar. It produces cement, tobacco, beer, soap and textiles for international and domestic consumption. It is also home to numerous cultural institutions such as the University of Antananarivo, the Rova Palace, the Andafiavaratra Museum as well as the site of the Tsimbazaza Zoo and the Ivato International airport. Like many urban centers, Antananarivo suffers from urban blight and poor sanitation. The city’s problems have been exacerbated by Madagascar’s poverty and a 2002 civil war, which imposed additional hardships on the local population.
What to Do in Antananarivo
There are numerous activities to do in Madagascar when visiting Tana. Whether you prefer historical culture, fauna and flora, or adventure, Antananarivo will meet all of your expectations. To learn more about Malagasy culture and history, you can visit the royal palaces or historical sites such as the Upper Town of the Pavillion Market, filled with atypical architectures.
Alongside an experienced guide, you will have the opportunity to quickly learn more about Malagasy people and their history. Customs are one aspect that makes the charm of the population, which will fill your outings with big smiles and greetings.
Imerintsiatosika Lemur’s Park
This zoological park at the gates of the capital was established in 2001. The goal to democratize the discovery of different species of lemurs. In long term, they were to reintroduce them into their natural habitat.
You will walk in a 5 hectare botanical park where you will see 9 species of lemurs in complete freedom. This is a perfect excursion for the whole family, since even the youngest ones can enjoy this activity safely.
This park is the real “green lung” of the capital, and is located 15 minutes from the city center. You will feel immersed in a pleasant botanical garden where many plant and animal species co-exist. Nature lovers will appreciate the number of exotic and endemic plants in the park. You can also have a walk throughout the zoo, where you can spot many species, including the famous lemurs, but also endemic birds, snakes, chameleons, frogs, etc. The park is ideal for a hike in nature, while being in the heart of the city.
The ancient village of Antongona
Antananarivo is surrounded by many ancient villages which takes us back a few centuries ago. One of the most interesting villages is undoubtedly the village of Antongona, at the gates of Imerintsiatosika. Because it offers a unique and quite rustic landscape, you will enjoy the tranquility that emanates from the place. Moreover, enjoying an exceptional location, you will admire the breathtaking view of the undulating hills of Imerina.
The Ivato crocodile farm
This farm is also called “Croc Farm,” and is located about 15 minutes from Antananarivo. This breeding farm deserves to be visited with family and friends. It will be a change of scenery and you will be able to observe the dangerous Nile crocodiles. Besides, you will be able to see lemurs, fosa (the only predator of Madagascar), snakes, and ostriches in exotic settings where palm trees, lemons and orchids will grow freely.
Climate in Antananarivo
he subtropical highland variety of the oceanic climate exists in elevated portions of the world that are within either the tropics or subtropics, though it is typically found in mountainous locations in some tropical countries. Despite the latitude, the higher altitudes of these regions mean that the climate tends to share characteristics with oceanic climates, though it also tends to experience noticeably drier weather during the "low-sun" season.
In locations outside the tropics, other than the drying trend in the winter, subtropical highland climates tend to be essentially identical to an oceanic climate, with mild summers and noticeably cooler winters, plus, in some instances, some snowfall. In the tropics, a subtropical highland climate tends to feature spring-like weather year-round. Temperatures here remain relatively constant throughout the year and snowfall is seldom seen.Without the elevation, many of these regions would likely feature either tropical or humid subtropical climates.
The average temperature for the year in Antananarivo is 66.0°F (18.9°C). The warmest month, on average, is January with an average temperature of 71.0°F (21.7°C). The coolest month on average is July, with an average temperature of 59.0°F (15°C).
The highest recorded temperature in Antananarivo is 97.0°F (36.1°C), which was recorded in February. The lowest recorded temperature in Antananarivo is 32.0°F (0°C), which was recorded in April.
The average amount of precipitation for the year in Antananarivo is 53.9" (1369.1 mm). The month with the most precipitation on average is December with 11.4" (289.6 mm) of precipitation. The month with the least precipitation on average is June with an average of 0.3" (7.6 mm). There are an average of 155.0 days of precipitation, with the most precipitation occurring in January with 21.0 days and the least precipitation occurring in September with 7.0 days.
|Languages spoken||Malagasy, French|
|Currency used||Malagasy Ariary|