North Africa

Madagascar Sightseeing Places

Money

National currency: 1 Malagasy Ariary.

Currency abbreviation: MGA – ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG

There are banknotes worth 10,000, 5,000, 2,000 and 1,000 ariary. Coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 4, 10, 20, and 50 ariary. Because of their low value, they are not in circulation.

Besides Mauritania, Madagascar is the only country that deviates from the decimal system in terms of currency.

In 2003, the new, counterfeit-proof notes were introduced. The Madagascar francs were in circulation until 2004 and can still be exchanged for banks until 2009. The new currency refers to the pre-colonial period in Madagascar, in which the currency was also called Ariary and is supposed to break with the French colonial era.

Currency exchange: Ariarys are only available in banks, official exchange offices in hotels and at the capital’s airport. It is strongly advised not to exchange money on the prohibited black market.

Exchange rate Malagasy Ariary:

Currency converter at OANDA

Credit Cards: Visa is accepted without problems in upscale hotels in the capital, in travel agencies and in Air Madagascar branches, but is only accepted to a very limited extent in other cities. MasterCard is only accepted in the Bank of Africa (BOA), the payment can take a long time.

Travelers checks: can be exchanged in banks and larger hotels and should be issued in US dollars, euros or Swiss francs. Without a purchase receipt, however, hardly any bank exchanges travelers checks.

ATMs: there are in Antananarivo and in larger cities. Visa is accepted most often, MasterCard only at ATMs of the BNI Madagascar.

Foreign exchange regulations: The import and export of the national currency is limited to 500,000 ariary.
The import of foreign currencies is unlimited, declaration is required from an amount equivalent to 7,500 euros. Export of foreign currencies up to the amount of the imported and declared amount.

Bank opening times: Mon – Fri 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. – 3.30 p.m.

Madagascar Sightseeing Places

Health and Diseases

A vaccination certificate against yellow fever is required for all travelers who want to enter an infection area designated by the WHO within 6 days of their stay.

The health service of the Foreign Ministry also recommends as sensible vaccinations: protection against tetanus, diphtheria, polio and hepatitis A, for long-term stay over three months also hepatitis B. With special exposure (stay in the country, hunting, jogging etc.) vaccination against rabies and typhoid can be very useful. The decision is made in a personal consultation with the tropical doctor or the vaccinator with tropical and travel medicine experience.

HIV / AIDS is a problem and a danger in the country for everyone who runs the risk of infection: Sexual contact, dirty syringes or cannulas and blood transfusions can pose a considerable life-threatening risk.

Through hygienic eating and drinking (only boiled, nothing warmed up) and consistent mosquito protection (repellents, mosquito net, covering clothing, behavior), most of the dangerous diarrhea (including cholera) and many infectious diseases can be completely avoided

There is a high risk of malaria in the predominant, more dangerous form Plasmodium falciparum (Malaria tropica) all year round in all parts of the country, including in towns and coastal areas. Chloroquine resistance has been reported. Mosquito repellent and drug prevention is recommended.
The preventive measures must be individually determined in a consultation prior to the trip with the tropical doctor.

Medical care in the country cannot be compared with Europe and is often technically, apparatusally and / or hygienically highly problematic. European-trained English / French-speaking doctors are also often lacking. Adequate, valid health insurance coverage and reliable travel return insurance are strongly recommended.

Because of the risk of parasitic diseases, bathing in fresh water should not be done (schistosomiasis, liver fluke). There are sharks on some beaches (eg Tamatave town). Filariasis

caused by insects occurs in the coastal regions. Travelers reduce the risk of transmission if they use effective insect protection.

Nationwide there is an increased risk of infection for various infectious diseases (e.g. hepatitis A, typhoid, Bacterial dysentery, amoebic dysentery, lambliasis, worm diseases), which are transmitted through contaminated food or beverages. Therefore, careful food and drinking water hygiene measures should always be carried out. In general, water should either be boiled or otherwise sterilized prior to use for drinking, brushing teeth, and making ice cubes. Milk is not pasteurized outside of urban areas and should also be boiled. Avoid dairy products from uncooked milk. Meat and fish dishes should only be cooked well and served hot. Avoid eating pork, raw salads and mayonnaise. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.

In addition to my general disclaimer, please note the following important note:

A guarantee for the correctness and completeness of the medical information as well as a liability for possible damage cannot be assumed. You stay responsible for your healthy.

Various transport options

Airplane: Most regions in Madagascar (except some cities in the central highlands) can be reached by air, there are more than 200 landing strips in the country. Air Madagascar (MD) flies to 51 cities in Madagascar and also offers the Air Tourist Pass, which allows any number of flights within a certain period of time. Flights may be canceled, so it is advisable to call an Air Madagascar branch before departure.

Ship: The main port in Madagascar is Toamasina. Rapids prevent many rivers in the country from being navigable for navigation. The Ministère du Tourisme de Madagascar offers trips in smaller boats on the Betsiboka and Tsiribihina rivers. The Pangalanes Canal runs for over 600 km along the east coast, but silting up largely hinders commercial traffic.

In the northeast of the island, cargo ships that also carry passengers are often the only means of transportation, although the ships are not the safest.

In the rainy season, the north of the island can only be reached by ship or plane.

Passenger trains currently only run on the route between Manakara on the east coast and Fianarantsoa. The other routes, such as from Toamasina via Antananarivo to Antsirabe and from Moramanga to Ambatondrazaja, are to be used again in the future.

Cars: The total road network in Madagascar covers approximately 50,000 km, of which only about 5,800 km are paved. Many streets still date from the French colonial era and are in poor condition. Paved roads connect the cities of the central highlands and continue to the east and northwest coasts. The three main routes connect Antananarivo with Mahajanga, Toamasina and Fianarantsoa. Some paved roads have been laid out in the other regions, but mostly there are only unpaved sandy or muddy slopes. The rainy season from November to April often makes these slopes inaccessible. The gasoline supply is nationwide, there is right-hand traffic. The long-distance buses are usually crowded and run irregularly. Buses from Madabus are rather well equipped and go from Toliara via Antananarivo to Soanierana Ivongo.

Except in Antananarivo and Fianarantsoa, taxis charge a standard fare. Taxis operate in two versions: taxi-bes are faster and more convenient; Taxi-brousses (bush taxis) are cheaper, but also slower, as they stop at every possible stop to pick up new passengers. The prices are set by the government, but you should make sure that they are applied before you start the trip. Bush taxis are the typical form of passenger transportation in Madagascar. Rental carscan only be found in the tourist centers, the minimum age to rent a vehicle is 23 years. Often you can only rent vehicles together with a driver. Motorcycles and mopeds can also be rented in many places in Madagascar. Documents: the international driver’s license is required.

Urban traffic: Pousse-Pousses (rickshaws) carry passengers everywhere. Here, too, agree the fare in advance.

The Ministère du Tourisme de Madagascar (see Madagascar – important addresses) offers many tours, the duration can be up to one month.

Madagascar – highlights

The capital and several other larger cities are in the Hauts Plateaux region, a mountain range that runs through central Madagascar in a north-south direction. The Queen’s Palace and the Royal Village (Rova) in Antananarivo are listed buildings. The lowest level of the city is the Analakely market. The Zuma market is the busiest on Fridays. Here you should protect yourself from pickpockets. Tsimbazaza, the zoo and botanical garden, is open on Thursdays, Sundays and public holidays. Ambohimanga is the birthplace of the state of Madagascar and is located about 20 km from the capital. The city is surrounded by forest and is known as “Holy City” or “Forbidden City”. There is also a royal palace here. The citadel was formerly a Merina fortress. The main gate consists of a stone disc that can only be moved by 40 men. On Sundays, ritual ancestor worship takes place here.

Ampefy (about 90 km from the capital) is a volcanic area with waterfalls, a volcanic lake and geysers.
Perinet is about 140 km from the capital, is a nature reserve and habitat for the Indri (tailless maki) and many species of orchids. The city of Antsirabe (170 km from the capital) is framed by volcanic hills with crater lakes. Madagascar’s second highest mountain, the Tsiafajovona , rises to the west of the Antananarivo Strait.

The tropical north of Madagascar is dominated by two mountains. The Tsarantanana (2880 m), the highest mountain in the Madagascar, is covered with giant ferns and lichen in the higher rainforest. The Montagne d’Arbre National Park (1500 m) was created to protect numerous species of lemur. Mahajanga is a provincial capital at the mouth of the largest river in Madagascar, the Betsiboka. The road to the city is usually only accessible in the dry season between July and October. From here you can take boats to Nosy Bé and other islands. The most fascinating caves in Madagascar are close to Anjohibe, about 90 km inland.

Nosy Bé is Madagascar’s most important holiday center. The island lies off the west coast of Madagascar and is surrounded by smaller islands. It is an hour’s flight from the capital. The largest city on Nosy Bé is Andoany. Nearby there are ruins of a 17th century Indian village.
From the coastal port of Antsiranana on the northern tip of the island you can overlook a beautiful gulf. Above the city you will find a wonderful landscape with lakes, waterfalls, caves and rainforest. Permission from the Ministère des Eaux et Forêts (branch office in the city) is required to visit the nearby national park on Montagne d’Arbre. Boats go to the island of Nosy Bé.
Ile Ste-Marie is an island off the east coast of Madagascar, about 150 km north of Toamasina. Here you can find Madagascar’s oldest Catholic church.
The provincial capital Toamasina is located on the east coast of Madagascar and has the largest port in the country. The city is an eight-hour drive from Antananarivo. There are several markets here, such as the Bé bazaar. Vatomandry
further south is a popular beach resort, but sharks make swimming in the sea impossible.

In the arid south of Madagascar, the strange baobab-like plants are particularly striking.
The provincial capital Fianarantsoa is a well-known center of wine and rice production and a good starting point for tours in the southern highlands. One of the most interesting places of the surrounding mountains is Amabalavao, which is the “home of the deceased” for Madegassen. The bones of the ancestors worshiped here can be seen on the nearby Ambondrome and Ifandana rocks. Ifandana Rock was the site of a mass suicide in 1811. The Isalo National Parklies in a sandstone mountain range (can only be reached in an off-road vehicle or on foot with a guide, camping is possible). There is a thermal bath in Ranomafana. Also in the resort of Mananjary on the east coast of Madagascar you shouldn’t bathe in the sea because of the sharks. Taolanaro is located in the southeast of Madagascar and was the first French settlement on the island. Parts of the 17th century fortress can still be seen today. You can visit the Berenty National Park near Taolanaro , where some rare species live.

In the past, western Madagascar was covered with deciduous forests, but now savannah has spread here. This part of Madagascar is sparsely populated. The region is known for breeding zebus (a species of ox). The coastal city of Morondava is located directly on the Mozambique Canal. This city is quite well developed for tourism by Madagascan standards and you can easily sleep and eat here.

The beach of Morondava slopes gently into the sea and is suitable for swimming due to the mostly mild waves. There are no coral reefs off Morondava, but several tour operators take multi-day tours by boat to Belo sur mer, where there are extensive coral reefs.

Many well-known sights of Madagascar are close to Morondava, such as the famous avenue of baobabs, dry forest Kirindy, and Belo sur mer. A little further away is the UNESCO World Heritage Site Tsingy de Bemaraha.

Madagascar – history

Early history to the end of the indigenous monarchy

The earliest history of Madagascar is still in the dark. Africans and Indonesians reached the island around the 5th century AD, and Indonesian immigration continued until the 15th century. Since the 9th century, Muslim traders (including Arabs) from Africa and the Comoros have settled in the northwest and southeast of Madagascar. Probably the first European to see Madagascar was Diogo Dias, a Portuguese navigator, in 1500. Between 1600 and 1619, Portuguese Roman Catholic missionaries unsuccessfully attempted to proselytize Madagascar. The built from 1642 to the end of the 18th century French bases on the island, first on Taolagnaro (formerly Fort-Dauphin) in the southeast of the country and later on the island of Sainte Marie off the east coast.

At the beginning of the 17th century there were a number of small Madagascan kingdoms, including Antemoro, Merina, Antaisaka and Bétsiléo. In the course of the 17th century, the S akalawa under Andriandahifotsi conquered the west and north of Madagascar, but this empire disintegrated in the 18th century. At the end of the 18th century, the people of the Merina were united under King Andrianampoinimerina (reign 1787-1810). The king also subjected the Bétsiléo. Radama I.(Reign 1810-1828), received British help in modernizing and equipping his army for his consent to end the slave trade. So he was able to conquer the Betsimisáraka kingdom. He allowed the Protestant London Missionary Society to settle in the country. The missionaries were able to convert many Madagascans to Christianity, opened schools and contributed to the transcription of the Merina language. Merina culture began to spread all over Madagascar.

Radama was on the royal throne by his wife Ranavalona I.followed (1828-1861). In 1835 it declared Christianity in Madagascar illegal and stopped a large part of the trade with foreign countries. During their reign, civil war broke out in the Kingdom of Merina. Under Radama II (1861-1863) and under his widow and successor Rasoherina (1863-68), anti-European policies were reversed and missionaries (including Roman Catholics) and traders returned to Madagascar. The Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony controlled the government during the reign of Ranavalona II (1868 – 1883) and Ranavalona III.(1883-1896). At that time the Merina kingdom ruled all of Madagascar except for the south and west. Ranavalona II publicly recognized Christianity and was baptized with her husband.

In 1883 the French shot and conquered Toamsina (then Tamatave) and in 1885 they established a protectorate over Madagascar, which was recognized by Great Britain in 1890. Rainilaiarivony organized the resistance against the French and from 1894 to 1896 there were heavy fights. In 1896 French troops under JS Gallieni defeated the Merina, the Merino monarchy was abolished in the following period.

Colonialism, independence and sole government

From 1904 the French controlled the entire island. The Tananarive region was especially developed among the French, who ruled Madagascar with a divide-and-rule policy. Merina thus benefited the most from colonial rule. Nevertheless, nationalist efforts have developed under the Merina since the beginning of the 20th century. In 1916, during the First World War, there was a conspiracy against the colonial masters. After their discovery, the French primarily pursued a secret society of the Merina.

During the Second World War, Madagascar sided with Vichy France until the island was conquered by the British in 1942. In 1943, the Free French government took over the control. From 1947 to 1948 there was a major uprising against the French, who put the rebellion to death, between 11,000 and 80,000 locals (estimates vary) were killed. As in other French colonies, domestic political activities increased from 1956, the Social Democratic Party (PSD) of Philibert Tsiranana (a Tsimihety) won dominance in Madagascar.

On October 14, 1958, the country – now a republic – achieved autonomy within the French community, Tsiranana was elected president. On June 26, 1960, Madagascar became completely independent. Tsiranana (re-elected in 1965 and 1972) was an autocratic ruler, his PSD party controlled the parliament, the government was centralized, the coastal peoples (côtiers) were preferred over the inland peoples (especially the Merina), the French influence on economy and culture remained still strong. From 1967, Tsiranana established economic relations with South Africa, which was apart.

In 1972 there was a wave of protest demonstrations by students and workers who were dissatisfied with the president’s policies and the deteriorating economic situation. At the height of the crisis, Tsiranana handed over power to General Gabriel Ramanantsoa,became the prime minister. In October 1972, the population of Madagascar overwhelmingly confirmed Ramanantsoa’s plan to rule without parliament for five years in a national referendum. Tsiranana, who was against the plan, resigned as president shortly after the vote.

The New Madagascar

Ramanantsoa released political prisoners detained under Tsiranana, began to reduce French influence in the country, cut ties with South Africa, and followed a moderate left-wing course. In 1975 a new constitution was adopted, the Madagascan Republic became the Democratic Republic of Madagascar. In the same year, Ramanantsoa dissolved the government in response to growing unrest in the military and disagreements about economic policy.Col. Ratsimandrava came to power, but was murdered a month later. Comdr Lt. Didier Ratsiraka was elected president in the following referendum.

The military-backed Supreme Revolutionary Council (CSR), led by Ratsiraka, provided the government’s executive. Ratsiraka’s Marxist socialist government nationalized much of the economy and indebted internationally to invest in the country’s development. The nation fell into a debilitating debt crisis. Ratsiraka’s policy of censorship, regional division, and oppression led to several coup attempts in the 1980s, while food shortages and price increases provoked social unrest. In foreign policy, Madagascar under Ratsiraka strengthened relations with the United States and Europe and moved further away from South Africa.

Ratsiraka was re-elected in dubious circumstances in 1989, and the election was followed by riots. Madagascar’s political and economic difficulties prompted the government to initiate a change: a multi-party system was introduced and the industry was gradually privatized from the 1990s. After demonstrations and a long strike in 1991, Ratsiraka shared power in a transitional government with opposition leader Albert Zafy. In free presidential elections in 1993, Zafy won over Ratsiraka with an overwhelming majority.

In 1995, Zafy was able to implement a constitutional amendment that allowed the president to elect the prime minister instead of the national assembly. The economic situation continued to deteriorate and demonstrations took place in February 1996. Some even called for the army to step in. Dissatisfaction with Zafy led to his impeachment by the National Assembly in July 1996. In the elections later that year, Ratsiraka won against Zafy with a program of social and environmental development. He also announced plans for a referendum on a constitutional amendment. In the 1998 elections, 63 members of Ratsiraka’s AREMA party came to the National Assembly.

In the presidential elections in December 2001, opposition leaders wore Marc Ravalomanana won the victory over Ratsiraka, but the government announced that he had only won 46% of the vote, making a runoff election necessary. Ravalomanana did not recognize this result and declared himself president. There was a standoff between his and Ratsiraka’s followers. Although Ravalomanana remained in control of the capital, Ratsiraka, who had strong support outside the capital and in large parts of the army, switched to Toamasina with his government.

A recount by the Organization for African Unity (OAU), which both candidates agreed, showed in April 2002 that Ravalomanana was the winner. Ratsiraka did not recognize this result. Ravalomanana’s forces gradually gained control of most of the island (with the exception of Toamasina province). In early July, Ratsiraka fled from Madagascar. The African Union, the successor to the OAU, initially did not recognize the new government and called for new elections. In December 2002, Ravalomanana’s party won the elections and the African Union recognized the new government. Ratsiraka was charged in absentia and sentenced in 2003 for embezzlement.

Ravalomanana privatized state-owned companies and successfully sought international aid and foreign investment. However, his government partially restricted press and other political freedoms. In 2005, the government banned the New Protestant Church (FPVM), a growing church that split from the Reformed Evangelical Church of Jesus Christ (FJKM) in 2002. The president, a leading member of the FJKM, was accused of violating the constitution for favoring a church, but the courts refused to reverse the ban.

The president was re-elected in December 2006, however, was an important opposition candidate, Pierrot Rajaonarivelo who was in exile was not allowed to return and stand for election. In addition, there was an attempted coup in November by a retired army general, who was also not allowed to run for the elections. In late 2006 and early 2007, Madagascar suffered severe destruction from one of the worst cyclone seasons in the country’s history. Madagascar was hit by six storms, about 450,000 residents were affected by the cyclones. The parliamentary elections in September 2007 restored a majority of the seats to the President’s party.