Antananarivo

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Antananarivo (pronounced /ˌæntəˌnænəˈriːvoʊ/; Malagasy [antaˈnanaˈrivʷ], from Tanànan'ny Arivolahy), formerly Tananarive (pronounced /təˌnænəˈriːv/ or /təˌnɑːnəˈriːv/), 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 the Analamanga region and of the Antananarivo autonomous province.

Contents

Location

Antananarivo is situated in the center of the island length-wise, and 145 km (90 miles) away from the eastern coast. The city occupies a commanding position, being built on the summit and slopes of a long and narrow rocky ridge, which extends north and south for about 4 km (2 mi) and rising at its highest point to about 200 m (660 ft) above the extensive rice plain to the west, although the town is at about 1,275 m (4,183 ft) above sea level. It is Madagascar's largest city and is its administrative, communications, and economic center. The city is located 215 km (134 mi) west-southwest of Toamasina, the principal seaport of the island, with which it is connected by railway, and for about 100 km (62 mi) along the coastal lagoons.

Antananarivo is served by Ivato Airport.

History

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.

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