Direction Du Tourisme
P.O.B. 610 Antananarivo 101,
Tel: 262-98. Telex: 22-301


Physical geography

The Great Island of Madagascar is nearly a continent with its various climates where the fussiest tourists will find all they desire to see.

This microcontinent spreads north-south in the Indian Ocean 4w KM in parallel of East African Coast with an area of 592.0w sq. kms. Here, the tourists have various choices: choice in the itinerary to adopt, choice in the activities to take part in and in the souvenirs to bring home. The Island is 1,580 kilometres long and 580 kilometres wide. There are three mountain ranges with the highest peak reaching 2,876 metres above sea level.


Austral summer from November to April - average temperature 20 to 28°C. Austral winter from May to October - average temperature 10° to 20°C.

Economic geography

Rice represents nearly 50 per cent of the agricultural products. Though 15 per cent of the area is suitable for agriculture, only three per cent is so far used. Food production constitutes the basic activity of the 85 per cent of the population who is thus of rural predominance. The main crops are: coffee, vanilla, sugar-cane, cotton etc... The western and southern savannah parts of the country are suitable for zebu herding which may reach ten million animals. Though the country has more than 1.6w kilometres of beaches, river-fishing still has more importance than sea-fishing. The island has an important potential of hydro-electricity owing to its many rivers of irregular water course. The underground is rich in minerals: graphite, mica, chromite, and various semi-precious stones: quartz, ilmenite, zinc, grenat and also beryl.


In the year 1988, population was estimated at 11 million inhabitants unevenly spread out through the country with a very high growth rate of nearly three per cent. The major towns are: Antananarivo, the capital with 1,200,000 inhabitants, Toamasina, Fianarantsoa, Toliary, Antsiranana, Mahajanga, Antsirabe.

A brief history

In Madagascar, human settlement is fairly recent and owing to immigrants from various origins, such as: East Africa, Indonesia, Indian Peninsula, Middle East, Iran. It results from anthropology and linguistic study that the Malagasy population is predominantly of Indonesian origin. There are various ethnic groups - at least 18 - amazingly all of them understand a single language: The Malagasy.


Despite the extended period of French domination, from 1895 till the independence day of 26 June 1960, traditional beliefs still find their stronghold. The ancestors have an important influence on the life of the people and, as a result, zebu sacrifices, the 'Famadihana' (exhumation of the dead) and the circumcision are, above all, subject to warm and costly festivals.

However, the Malagasy people is way far from being spared from modern believes as Protestant, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Adventists religions, etc... In one word, nearly half of the Malagasy population is Christian.

Languages spoken by nationals

Official languages are Malagasy and French. French is currently understood even in the countryside.


The island is three hours advance of Greenwich Mean Time.


Foreign currency entrance is not limited but the means of payment should be declared upon arrival. The changing of home country currency into Malagasy francs is obtained at banks or at the counter desks in large hotels.

The Malagasy Franc cannot be exported. Currency exchange is: UK£ =6,318,18 FMG; US $1 = 4,080.18 (July 1996).

Official holidays (all offices and shops closed)

Government offices are closed on: 1 January, New Year' s Day -29 March: National Martyrs' Commemorative Day - 1 May: Labour Day - 25 May: Celebration of the African Unity Organization - 26 June: Independence Day.

The following religious festivities are holidays too: Easter, Pentecost, Ascension, Assumption, All Saints' and Christmas Day.

What one should not fail to see

Antananarivo, Ambohimanga another Queen's Palace (20km from town), the Zoma Market (every Friday), the botanical and zoological gardens of Tsimbazaza, with a beautiful zoological and palaeontorogical collection. The botanical experimental gardens of Nanisana.

Ambatolampy: forest Station of Ankaratra (Manjakatompo) Manjakandriana: Forest Station of Angaokely (re-afforestation grottoes)

Andasibe: Special fauna reserve for butterflies and lemurs Tsaratanana: Tsaratanana massif, Marojezy forest reserve (altitudinal vegetation)

Antalaha: Ampanoavana region: butterflies, lemurs, vanilla preparation.

Nosy-Be: Orchids, Station of oceanography with unique specimens including the Coellacanth Lokobe forest reserve, Island reserve of Nosy-Komba: lemurs in their freedom.

Soalala: Namoroka Natural Reserve.

Ankarafantsika: Forest station

Antsiranana: National Park of Mount Ambre (rainforest lemurs waterfalls)

Toliary: Indian fig trees of Miary

Morombe: Fossil layer of Lamboharana

Morondava: Kirindy reserve

Betioky-Sud: Natural reserve with lake birds at Tsimanampetsotsa

Isalo: National Park (canyon and limestone grottoes

Tolagnaro: Lemur reserve of Berenty, orchids, precious wood and lemurs

Mananjary: Coastal track decorated with orchids

Toamasina: Ivoloina botanical experimental garden

Maroantsetra: Primary forest - Nosy-Mangabe special reserve for 'aye-aye' lemurs.

Authorisation for admission issued by the 'Direction des Eaux et Forets' will allow you to visit certain reserves and parks.

Most favourable seasons for sojourns and touring

Generally, climate in Madagascar is tropical, that is to say, hot and sunny, with two great seasons: the dry season which goes from April to December and the rainy season from December to April. So, the best season for visiting and touring is during the dry season which extends from April to December.

How to dress

Warm clothes are required in June, July and August; light washable clothes and light pullovers and raincoats for the coast wool for the central plateau. As sea activities are widely practised a swimming suit is of great use.

Main holiday resorts

Antananarivo, the capital, for museums (Ambohimanga Palace, Botanical Garden) and for shopping.

Nosy-Be and Ste Marie Islands for sea sports.

Fort-Dauphin for beaches and for the famous lemur reserve of Berenty.

Toliary for its marvellous lagoon.

Antsirabe, a thermal station in a volcanic region.

Main holiday sports

Swimming, river-fishing, scuba diving, hunting, hiking, tennis, basket-ball and football.

What to eat and drink

The typical Malagasy dishes: the 'Romazava', boiled meat and various kind of leaves, the 'Ravitoto', ground manioc leaves mixed with well cooked pork, the 'poulet au coco' chicken cooked with milk of coconut, the 'Roay', smashed tomatoes mixed with pimento and onion and all of those go with white rice.

Madagascar produces many good wines in the region of Fianarantsoa (red, rose, white and even a champagne). On the coast, 'Coco punch is the welcoming drink.

What to buy

Wood carvings, precious stones, leather articles, baskets, Antaimoro paper (local paper with dried flower inclusions), hand-made embroideries. The main centres for purchase: the Zoma Market (a market every Friday) and permanent shops near Independence Avenue.

Frontier formalities

Travellers from overseas coming to Madagascar should have a valid passport with a visa and a return ticket. The visa must have been issued from the Malaasy officials abroad (embassies or consulates). For further information, contact the 'Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres' (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Anosy, 101 Antananarivo, Madagascar.

The visa remains valid for a maximum of three months but generally, a visa for no more than 30 days is issued from the embassies. An extension to the stay can be granted by the Ministere de l'Interieur, Anosy, 101 Antananarivo.


Personal effects are free of duty. The importation of guns is strictly forbidden. Only rifles of 12 14. 1 l. 20. 24 and 28 calibre and munitions ready for use can be imported. Munitions cartridges are also prohibited.

Some fauna and flora goods cannot be exported without a licence. List of animals and goods made from these animals and plants, the importation or exportation of which is strictly forbidden: All lemurs and their carcasses. All tortoises (Testudo hyniphora, Chelonya mydas, Testudo radiata). All living or stuffed crocodiles. All orchids, their flowers and seeds. All plants of the aloes, cactacees, didieracee, euphorbiacee, pachypodiom families, etc.


None needed, except against yellow fever and cholera when coming from countries where they are prevalent.

For further information please contact: The Ministere de la Culture et de l'Art Revolutionnaire at Antsahavola -101 Antananarivo - Phone 270-92 and the 'Direction des Eaux et Forets' at Nanisana - 101 Antananarivo - Phone 240-26.

Main travel routes

The Great Red Island, as it is commonly called, is linked with Europe, Africa and the Island of the Indian Ocean, by the national carrier 'Air Madagascar', as well as other foreign companies. The International Airport of Ivato-Antananarivo situated at 17km from the capital is the main gateway into Madagascar. Within the island itself Air Madagascar serves 58 airports.

The road network covers 24,000km of which 4,700km is asphalt road, 5,800km is metal road and 13,000km track. The main routes are: Antananarivo-Mahajanga (RN 4): 521km Antananarivo-Toliary via Fianarantsoa (RN 7): 954km, Antananarivo-Toamasina (RN 2): 365kms; Fianarantsoa-Mananjary (RN 25): 200km; Mahajanga-Antsiranana (RN 4 and RN 6): 864km; Toliary-Taolagnaro (RN 7 and RN 10): 624km, Antananarivo Tsuoanomandidy (RN 1): 240km.

These main routes are regularly served by some 'taxi-brousses'. The railway service is managed by the Malagasy Railway, the General Direction of which is in Antananarivo, phone 205-21. This network consists of four main lines: Antananarivo-Toamasina: 371km, Antananarivo-Lac Alaotra: 263km, Antananarivo Antsirabe: 159km and Fianarantsoa-Manakara 16km.


The 'Kianja Dadakoto' at Andavamamba is a very popular place where nearly every Sunday, the most typical folk songs and dances take place.

The subdesertic region of the south has a very unusual vegetation and very typical graves are found there. Owing to this it is considered to be one of the most interesting regions of Madagascar (surroundings of Toliara and Taolegnaro).

Independence festival on 26 June.

Airport tax - Domestic flight: FMG8,000, Regional flight: FrF 80 International flight 100 FrF.

Representatives abroad


Belgium: 276 Avenue de Tervueren -1 150, Brussels - Tel: 77-17-26 and 77017-74.

France: 4 Avenue Raphael-75016 Paris- Tel: Telex: 610394 F. Telemad.

Germany: Rolandstrasse 48 - 5300 Bonn, Bad Godesberg, Postfach 188 - Tel: 02.28/33.10.57-58.

Italy: Via Riccardo Zandonai 84/A - Roma - Tel: 327.77.97 - 327.51.83, Telex: 622 526 Texmad 1.

Mauritius: Avenue Queen Mary Floreal - Port Louis - Tel: 6.50.15 6.50. 16.

Tanzania: Magoret Street 135 - P.O.B. 5254 - Dar Es Salaam - Tel: 29.442 - Telex 41291.

USA: 2374 Massachussets Ave, N.W. - Washington D.C. 20008 - Tel: (202) 265.55.25.


Australia: 92 FIH Street - Sydney N. S. W. 2000 - Tel: 221-3007 -

Great Britain: 69-70 Mark Lane - London EC3R 71A - Tel: 171 481.38.99.

Kenya: Hilton Nairobi - P.O.B. 41723 - Nairobi - Tel: 25206/26494 - Telex Aeronotique SITA.

Reunion: 39 Angles Rue Mac Aulife et Juliette Dodu - 97461 Saint-Denis -Tel: 21.05.21.

Switzerland: Birkenstrasse 5 - 6000 Lucerne - Tel: 01/21 1.27.21- telex 8136 42.

We have been able to publish the present tourist information on Madagascar thanks to the co-operation of the Direction du Tourisme of Madagascar in Antananarivo.