19 Interesting Antananarivo Facts That You Should Know

Welcome to Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar! 😲

The place is rich in its culture and history.  It is known for its stunning landscapes, and you will definitely get some amazing facts to discover! 😊

This article will let you know some amazing facts about Antananarivo that will surely amaze you!!

So, let’s begin this exciting journey!! 🚎 

Interesting Facts About Antananarivo

Antananarivo: The largest city of Madagascar

Antananarivo is the largest city 😲 of Madagascar!

It is also called Tananarive, or Tana!

Antananarivo is located at 4199 ft. above sea level in the middle portion of the island. 

This city is the highest national capital by elevation!

Antananarivo has been the largest population center of the country Madagascar since the 18th century!

Historically, it was even the capital of the Merina people

History says that the Tana City was the capital of the Merina people!

They form the city’s majority of inhabitants. It was 1,275,207 during the 2018 census. 😲

The urban areas surrounding the city have a total metropolitan population of three million! This includes all eighteen Malagasy ethnic groups and the residents of Indian, Chinese, European origin. 

When the Merina King Andrianjaka expelled the inhabitants of Analamanga in 1610, Antananarivo was founded. 

Once, Antananarivo served as the capital of the Imerina Kingdom

 Antananarivo’s city served as the capital of the Imerina Kingdom until 1710!

 At that time, Imerina turned into the four warring quadrants🙄!

It was until 1794 that Antananarivo became the capital of the southern quadrant!

During that time, King Andrianampoinimerina of Ambohimanga captured the area. He even restored it as the capital of Imerina’s united kingdoms!

They also brought neighboring ethnic groups under the control of Merina. 

These conquests continued under Radama I. later, he got control of over two-thirds of the island! 

Thus, he was considered the King of Madagascar by the diplomats of Europe! Antananarivo remained Madagascar’s capital even after its independence in 1960.

The city was captured by the French once

Little champs, did you know that the city of Antananarivo was captured by the French? They incorporated it into their Madagascar protectorate!

During 1897, the country of Madagascar was colonized by the French.

Antananarivo: ‘The City Of The Thousand’

Antananarivo was originally the site of a town known as Analamanga!

This term means “Blue Forest” in the Malagasy language’s Central Highlands dialect. 

The city was called Analamanga. But, later King Andriamasinavalona renamed it Antananarivo or “City of the Thousand.” 

He did it to honor the soldiers of Andrianjaka!!

Early Merina kings used fanampoana

Early Merina Kings Used Fanampoana

Early Merina kings used statute labor or fanampoana. They used to build a massive system of irrigated paddy fields and even dikes around the city!

They did this to offer adequate rice for the increasing population. 

These paddy fields continue to produce rice now. Among them, the largest field is called the Betsimitatatra.  

The reign of Ambohimanga

In 1710, after the death of Andriamasinavalona, the kingdom of Imerina was divided into two parts. 

It was after that the 77-year long civil war took place. 

Later, the capital of the eastern district, which was at Ambohimanga, rose in prominence.

In the year 1793, the last king of Ambohimanga conquered Antananarivo successfully. 

King Ambohimanga reunited the provinces of Imerina and ended the civil war.

In 1794, He moved his kingdom’s political capital to Antananarivo!

He even declared Ambohimanga the kingdom’s spiritual capital, a role it still plays!

King Andrianampoinimerina even created a large marketplace in Analakely. This place served as the economic center of the city.

The unique climate of Antananarivo

According to the Koppen-Geiger climate classification system, Antananarivo has a subtropical highland climate with very dry season!

The season can be described by dry, mild winters and rainy, warm summers 😎! 

Antananarivo receives almost all of its average annual rainfall between November and April. 

Usually, frosts are rare in the city and more common at higher elevations. 

Daily minimum temperatures range from 69.4 degrees Fahrenheit in December to 57.7 degrees Fahrenheit in July.

Exploring the geographical facts of Antananarivo

The city of Antananarivo is located approximately 1280 m above sea level. 

It is located in Madagascar’s Central Highland areas. 

The city is situated centrally along the country’s north-south axis and east of the center of the east-west axis.

It is 99 meter from the east coast and 210 mi from the west coast. 

Antananarivo occupies a great position on the slopes and summit of a narrow, long, rocky ridge! 

This ridge extends south and north for almost 660 ft. above the large rice fields to the west.

Landing into the plains of Antananarivo!

Landing in the plains of Antananarivo

The city of Antananarivo spreads out from its central region to cover the hillsides.

During the late 19th century, the city had expanded to a flat area at the base of the hills! 

These plains are frequently flooded during the rainy season. 

The Ikopa River 🌊 drain those lands! 

It skirts the capital to the west and south.

The western plains and slopes of the city are best protected from cyclones that originate over the Indian Ocean!!

The population of Greater Antananarivo

Greater Antananarivo is an urbanized area!  

This region spreads beyond the city’s official boundaries for 5.6 mi north to south between Ankadimbahoaka and Ambohimanarina!

 It even spreads 3.7 mi or 6 km west to east between Tsiadana and the Ikopa River dike. 

The actual population of the greater Antananarivo region was estimated at 3 million people in 2012!

Moreover, it is estimated to increase to 6 million by 2030.

The beauty of the Manjakamiadana Royal Palace

Manjakamiadana Royal Palace of Antananarivo

The city of Antananarivo compasses three ridges that meet at their highest point. 

The Manjakiamiadana royal palace🏰 is located at the summit of these hills! The palace can be seen from every part of the city and its surrounding hills. 

The Manjakiamiadana was famous as the largest structure within Antananarivo’s rova. 

Did you know that its stone casing is the only remnant of the residences of royals that survived a fire at the site in 1995?

For about 25 years, this interesting shell that is roofless dominated the skyline of the city! 

Restoration of Manjakiamiadana Palace 

The west wall of Manjakiamiadana palace collapsed in 2004. 

In 2009, the stone shell was fully restored. Also, the building was re-roofed. 

Reconstruction and conservation work at the site is continuing. The skyline of the city Antananarivo is a jumble of historic, colorful houses and churches. 

The beauty of the haute ville in Antananarivo

The Haute Ville In Antananarivo

Here, the haute ville is a residential place and is viewed as a prestigious place! Here many of the wealthiest and most influential Malagasy families reside! 

The part of the la haute, which is closest to the famous Rova is important. 

It carries a lot of the pre-colonial heritage of the city! It is even regarded as an important historic part of Antananarivo.  

It includes places, such as the Andafiavaratra Palace, the royal palace. 

It also has the Andohalo, the main town square until 1897.

Celebration of reburial ceremony called famadihana

Famadihana in Antananarivo

Have you ever heard of ‘REBURIAL’ ceremony? Isn’t it something weired??

But, when you are in Antananarivo, it is not weired, but a common social practice!

In Antananarivo and throughout its highlands, Betsileo and Merina families practice the famadihana ceremony! 

It is an ancestral reburial ceremony!! 

Famadihana mainly takes place five to seven years after a relative’s death!

This ceremony is celebrated by removing the lamba-wrapped remains of the person from the family tomb!

Then, it is rewrapped with fresh silk shrouds, and then returned to the tomb. 

Friends, relatives, and neighbors are invited to participate in the dancing 💃, music, and feasting accompanying the event!

This event is expensive. Hence many families sacrifice higher living standards to gather money for the ceremony!!

The museums and historic sites in Antananarivo

Little history buffs, did you know a special thing about Antananarivo?

It has many historic buildings, monuments, important sites, and traditions. All of those are related to the history and customs of the people of the Central Highlands 👏.

Moreover, the nearby Andafiavarata Palace is very interesting. It was the residing place of 19th century Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony!

It houses a museum with many historical artifacts of the Imerina Kingdom! 

Here we can even see some of the items that were saved from the fire at the Rova,

The famous zoo in Antananarivo.

Little animal lovers, let us know about the famous Tsimbazaza Zoo 🦁! 

It has many of the unique animal species of the island! 🐘

Here we can even see a complete skeleton of the elephant bird that is now extinct!!

Rugby Union is the national sport of the country

The National Sport Of Antananarivo

Rugby Union is the national sports team of Madagascar!

The national rugby team was given the nickname Makis!! It is actually named after the local term for ring-tailed lemur.

The team trains its members and plays domestic matches at Antananarivo’s Maki Stadium. 

The light of knowledge: Education in Antananarivo

College Of Antananarivo

A lot of public and private universities of Madagascar are located in the city of Antananarivo!

One of them is the College of Medicine! 📚

It was the oldest higher education institute in the nation. This college was established under the monarchy of Merina!

Also, here is the University of Antananarivo, 🏛️that was established under the administration of the French.

In addition, the city hosts many primary, pre-primary, and secondary schools as well. 

The most prestigious dance school of the country, K’art Antanimena is also located in Antananarivo!! 


So, little knowledge hunters😃, now you know that Antananarivo is a city that takes pride in its historical monuments, natural beauty, and modern advancements.

From interesting festivals to stunning museums and zoos, what in Antananarivo attracts you more 😊?

Do let us know!!

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