Madagascar History and Cities

By | October 20, 2021


Settlement of the island by population groups from Southeast Asia and Africa began from the 4th century, later the Arabs followed to a lesser extent, who probably set up the first trading posts on the northwest coast in the 10th century. After the discovery by the Portuguese in 1500, they built coastal bases; from 1642 onwards the French had added coastal bases. 1810–19 British troops occupied French bases on the east coast. The English and French fought for supremacy in the Indian Ocean with varying degrees of success in the 19th century. The English established the Evangelical Church in Madagascar and translated the Bible into Malagasy. Among the native states, the Merina Kingdom in the central highlands gradually gained the upper hand. king Andrianampoinimerina (1787–1810) began with conquests, which under Radama I (1810–28) and Queen Ranavalona I (1828–61) united almost all of Madagascar into one state, which, under the influence of European missionaries and merchants, became part of Europe Role models oriented. Rainilaiarivony, Prime Minister of 1864–95 tried in vain to modernize Madagascar independently: in 1869 the court adopted Protestant Christianity, in 1877 the African slaves were freed. In 1885 France established its protectorate, which it was only able to enforce after hard fighting. After Great Britain renounced Madagascar in 1890, the colonial conquest by France followed. In 1896 Madagascar was declared a French colony. By 1903 the governor general of Madagascar, General J. S. Gallieni, put down the last uprisings.

The modern liberation movement formed among the students during the First World War. Until 1940 it fluctuated between demands aimed at independence and those aimed at assimilation in the Union of the French Republic. In 1940 the colonial government remained loyal to the Vichy government, after which British troops occupied Madagascar in May 1942. In 1946, nationalists founded the Mouvement Démocratique de Rénovation Malgache (MDRM, German Democratic Movement for Malagasy Renewal), which demanded autonomy within the framework of the French Union. On March 30, 1947 an uprising broke out, which France brutally suppressed (officially 11,342, probably 60,000 to 80,000 dead); the MDRM was banned and its leaders, MPs in the Paris National Assembly since 1945, were sentenced to long prison terms. For the next nine years, Madagascar was under siege. In 1956 France granted Madagascar limited autonomy, in 1958 the Autonomous Malagasy Republic was proclaimed within the French Community, and finally on June 26, 1960, full independence was granted by France.

Based on the Parti Social-Démocrate (PSD, German Social Democratic Party), President P. Tsiranana (1960–73) ruled closely following France. In 1963 Madagascar took part in the founding of the OAU. The different development of the individual regions as well as the close cultural and economic cooperation with France aroused growing criticism from around 1967, which was intensified in 1971 by the conclusion of a cooperation agreement with the Republic of South Africa. In 1971 and 1972 there was a multifaceted strike movement. In 1972, under pressure from the military, Tsiranana gave first the position of head of government, then that of head of state to General Gabriel Ramanantsoa (* 1906, † 1979) away. In terms of domestic policy, this united legislative and governmental powers (1972), revoked (1972) foreign policy v. a. cooperation with the Republic of South Africa and terminated membership in the franc zone (1973). In the face of growing domestic political tensions, Ramanantsoa handed over government power to Colonel Richard Ratsimandrava (* 1931, † 1975) in February 1975. After his assassination (that same month), a military committee took power. President Didier Ratsiraka (* 1936),who was in office from January 1975took a socialist course (proclamation of a “socialist revolution charter”, August 28, 1975) and geared Madagascar’s foreign relations more towards the communist world, but saw his country included in the movement of the non-aligned states. Serious unrest broke out in 1981 and 1982 as well as in 1986/87. Without deviating from the model of a socially structured society, President Ratsiraka (re-elected in 1982 and 1989) introduced market-based corrections to his economic policy at the end of the 1980s, but this did not defuse domestic tensions.



Fianarantsoa [fjanarants ɔ a], provincial in Madagascar, in the southeastern highlands, 1200 m above sea level, (2018) 189,900 residents.

Archbishopric; University (founded in 1988); Center of the fertile area Betsileo, viticulture; Consumer goods industry, vehicle assembly; End point of a railway from the port of Manakara; Airport.


Mahajanga, formerly Majunga [ma ʒ œ~ ga, French], provincial capital of the northwest coast of Madagascar, at the mouth of Betsiboka, (2018) 244 700 residents.

Catholic bishopric, university (since 1988); Commercial center; Cement factory, slaughterhouse, textile and food industry; Fishing; Port, regional airport.


Antsirabe, city ​​in the central highlands of Madagascar, 1 500 m above sea level, (2018) 245 600 residents.

Catholic bishopric; Thermal bath; important industrial site (textiles, food) at the end of the railway line from Antananarivo to the airport.


Toamasina, formerly Tamatave in French , provincial capital and the only large seaport on the east coast of Madagascar, (2018) 326 300 residents.

Catholic bishopric; University (founded 1977); Metal, canning, food, chemical industry, petroleum refining; Terminal of the Antananarivo railway line, the country’s main export port, airport.

The city was almost completely destroyed by hurricanes in 1927 and 1986 and was rebuilt over and over again.


Antananarivo (until 1976 Tananarive), capital of Madagascar, in the central highlands 1,200–1,400 m above sea level with (2018) 1.3 million residents.

Madagascar History