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Province de Tananarive
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Antananarivo is the capital and largest city in Madagascar.It is also known by its French colonial shorthand form Tana.The larger urban area surrounding the city,known as Antananarivo-Renivohitra ("Antananarivo-Mother Hill" or "Antananarivo-Capital") is the capital of Analamanga Region.Unlike most capital cities in southern Africa, Antananarivo was already a major city before the colonial era.The city was founded circa 1625 by King Andrianjaka and takes its name (the City of the Thousand) from the number of soldiers assigned to guard it. For many years it was the principal village of the Hova chiefs and gained importance as those chiefs made themselves sovereigns of the greater part of Madagascar, eventually becoming a town of some 80,000 inhabitants.

Since the introduction of stone and brick by James Cameron and other London Missionary Society missionaries in the early 19th century, the entire city has been rebuilt and now contains numerous European-style structures, including the royal palaces, the houses formerly belonging to the prime minister and nobles, the French residency, the Anglican and Roman Catholic cathedrals, and several stone churches. The Museum of Ethnology and Paleontology is located in the city.

The city was captured by the French in 1895 and incorporated into their Madagascar protectorate. After the French conquest of Madagascar when the city had a population of some 100,000, it was extensively remodeled as the population grew to 175,000 by 1950. Roads were constructed throughout the city, broad flights of steps connecting places too steep for the formation of carriage roads, and the central space, called Andohalo, was enhanced with walks, terraces, flower-beds and trees. Water, previously obtained from springs at the foot of the hill, was brought from the Ikopa River which skirts the capital to the south and west.

The city is guarded by two forts built on hills to the east. Including an Anglican and a Roman Catholic cathedral (this is the see city of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Antananarivo),there are more than 5,000 church buildings in the city and its suburbs. Antananarivo hosts a campus of the University of Madagascar and the Collège Rural d'Ambatobe.Ivato Airport serves the city with several regional routes and flights to and from Paris, Johannesburg and Nairobi among other cities.

How to Reach

By Air

Ivato Airport is the Antananarivo's major airport and it is serviced by Air Austral, Air Mauritius, Interair South Africa,and Air Madagascar.Arrival at the Ivato A irport in Tana is fairly scary for those used to US or European airports. First, you need to buy a visa using Euros or US dollars, and dealing with immigration folks, wherever they are, is always stressful.Once you get past baggage claim, the fun really starts as you are descended upon by a mass of "entrepreneurs" offering assistance with your luggage to the waiting taxis, in return for a gratuity of course.

By Bus

There are three main methods of navigating the capital taxi, bus and on foot.Most tourists tend to use taxis as they are very practical.Make sure you agree the rate with the driver before entering the taxi.If you are comfortable being squeezed onto a van with other people, the buses,or 'taxi be',are the most affordable form of transportation,with prices usually ranging from 1,000 fmg to 2,000 fmg (Compared to 25,000 fmg or more for a typical taxi ride).However,tourists are not usually familiar with taxi be routes.While the city is quite large,Analakely is fairly navigable on foot.

Key places to visit
Rova of Antananarivo, Prime Minister's Palace, Museum of Ethnology and Paleontology, Tsimbazaza Zoological And Botanical Garden, Lake Anosy, Independence Avenue


Places to Visit

Rova of Antananarivo

Is a royal palace complex that served as the former residence and capital of the sovereigns of the Kingdom of Imerina from the 17th to 18th centuries and the Kingdom of Madagascar in the 19th century.Located in the central highland city of Antananarivo,the Rova occupies the highest point on Analamanga,historically the highest of Antananarivo's many hills.Merina king Andrianjaka, who ruled Imerina from around 1610 until 1630, is believed to have captured Analamanga from a Vazimba king around 1610 and erected the first fortified royal structure there in rosewood.Successive Merina kings continued to utilize the site as their capital until the fall of the monarchy in 1897,frequently restoring, modifying or adding royal structures within the compound to suit their needs.

Prime Minister's Palace

Near the Rova.In 2005,the situation here was even more uncertain,the Palace appeared to be closed,but a freelance guide let visitors in and gave a comprehensive account of the historical artifacts which were on show,again in return for a gratuity.

Museum of Ethnology and Paleontology

Is a museum in Antananarivo, Madagascar.The museum displays the prehistoric natural history of the island and way of life of its inhabitants.

Tsimbazaza Zoological And Botanical Garden

Tsimbazaza Zoological and Botanical Garden also has an outstanding museum with fascinating displays to enjoy.Check out the skeleton of the elephant bird; enjoy the collection of tribal carvings and the remarkable exhibitions of fossils and taxidermy.Tsimbazaza Zoological and Botanical Garden offer something for everyone, from the avid birder, nature lover, or the history buffs, a day spent at the zoo and beautiful environment of the gardens is an uplifting and informative experience.

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