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Madagascar Country Guide

  1. CountryFacts
  2. Health
  3. Media
  1. Intro
  2. Geography
  3. People
  4. Travel
  5. Embassies & Visas
  6. Finance
  7. Cities/Regions

Quick Facts

Region: Africa
Full Name: Republic of Madagascar
Capital City: Antananarivo
Language Spoken: French (official), Malagasy (official)

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Geographic data

20 00 S, 47 00 E

Elevation Extremes

lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m highest point: Maromokotro 2,876 m

Land boundaries

0 km

Natural hazards

periodic cyclones, drought, and locust infestation

Natural resources

graphite, chromite, coal, bauxite, salt, quartz, tar sands, semiprecious stones, mica, fish, hydropower

Land use

arable land: 5.03% permanent crops: 1.02% other: 93.95% (2005)

Environmental current issues

soil erosion results from deforestation and overgrazing; desertification; surface water contaminated with raw sewage and other organic wastes; several endangered species of flora and fauna unique to the island

Climate

Hot and subtropical climate, colder in the mountains. Rainy season: November to March. Dry season: April to October. The south and west regions are hot and dry. Monsoons bring storms and cyclones to the east and north from December to March. The mountains, including Antananarivo, are warm and thundery from November to April and dry, cool and windy the rest of the year. Required clothing Lightweights are worn during the summer on high central plateau and throughout the year in the north and south. Warmer clothes are advised for during the evenings and winter in mountainous areas. Rainwear is advisable.

Time difference

time difference: UTC+3

Population

18,595,469 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 44.8% (male 4,171,821/female 4,158,288) 15-64 years: 52.2% (male 4,809,173/female 4,900,675) 65 years and over: 3% (male 249,414/female 306,098) (2006 est.)

Median age

total: 17.5 years male: 17.3 years female: 17.7 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate

3.03% (2006 est.)

Birth rate

41.41 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate

11.11 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 57.34 years male: 54.93 years female: 59.82 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate

5.62 children born/woman (2006 est.)

Business Practices

Business meetings tend to be somewhat informal, but tropical lightweight suits are appropriate wear. While many businessmen speak English or French, interpreters may at times be useful for business meetings. Office hours are generally 0800-1200 and 1400-1800 Monday through Friday.

Crime

The major concerns for visitors to Antananarivo are street crime, as well as theft from residences and vehicles. Walking at night, whether alone or in a group, is not considered safe in urban areas, including in the vicinity of Western-standard hotels. Wearing expensive jewelry, or carrying other expensive items while on foot or using public transportation, is strongly discouraged. Valuable items should never be left in an unattended vehicle. Although crimes, such as burglary, do occur in areas outside the capital, the threat of confrontational crime is less common in rural areas. Night travel in private or public conveyances outside Antananarivo is discouraged due to poor lighting and road conditions. In 1999, there were a series of robberies at Libanona Beach and Peak Saint Louis, in the Fort Dauphin area, perpetrated by persons representing themselves as "guides." Although there have been no such incidents reported since, visitors should hire only an authorized guide and be cautious when visiting any isolated areas.

Hotels

Business-class hotels are available in Antananarivo and a few other main towns, but since hotel development is in its early stages, outlying areas have less-appealing accommodations.

Communications

Telephone IDD service is available to major towns. Country code: 261. Outgoing international code: 16. Telex services are available at the telecommunications center and the Colbert and Hilton hotels in the capital. The main post office (PTT) in Antananarivo offers a 24-hour telegram transmission service. The Poste Restante facilities at main post offices are the most reliable option. Airmail to Europe takes at least seven days and surface mail three to four months.

Electricity

is mostly 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are generally 2-pin. Electricity Mostly 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are generally two-pin.

Plug Types

C,D,E,J,K

Food And Dining

In Madagascar, eating well means eating a lot. Malagasy cooking is based on a large serving of rice with a dressing of sauces, meat, vegetables and seasoning. The people of Madagascar enjoy very hot food and often serve dishes with hot peppers. Local restaurants are often referred to as hotely. The choice of beverages is limited. The national wine is acceptable.
National specialties:
? Ro (a mixture of herbs and leaves with rice).
? Beef and pork marinated in vinegar, water and oil, then cooked with leaves, onion, pickles and other vegetables and seasoned with pimento.
? Ravitoto (meat and leaves cooked together).
? Ramazava (leaves and pieces of beef and pork browned in oil).
? Vary amid 'anana (rice, leaves or herbs, meat and sometimes shrimps), often eaten with kitoza (long slices of smoked, cured or fried meat). National drinks:
? Malagasy drinks include litchel (an aperitif made from lychees).
? Betsa (fermented alcohol).
? Toaka gasy (distilled from cane sugar and rice).
? Three Horses lager.
? Non-alcoholic drinks include ranon 'apango or rano vda (made from burnt rice) and local mineral waters.
Tipping:
Not customary, although waiters expect 10 per cent of the bill. In European-style hotels and restaurants, the French system of tipping is followed. One should also tip in Chinese and Vietnamese establishments.
Nightlife
There are a few discos, sometimes with bands and solo musicians. Casinos can be found at Antananarivo, Toamasina and on Nossi B?. Most main towns have cinemas and theaters, and touring theater groups perform local plays throughout the country. Traditional dance troupes can also be seen.

Entry departure requirements

Visa immigration information

Passports

Passports valid for six months after date of entry required by all.

Visas

Required by all except:
Transit passengers continuing their journey by the same or first connecting aircraft within 24 hours provided holding onward or return documentation and not leaving the airport.

Types of visa and cost

Tourist: US$69 (single-entry); US$86 (multiple-entry). Business: US$94 (single-entry); US$112 (multiple-entry).

Validity

Visas are issued for stays of up to 90 days and are valid for six months from date of issue.

Application to

Consulate (or Consular section at Embassy). Some nationalities are able to get a visa at Antananarivo airport on arrival, however it is strongly recommended to obtain a visa prior to this. Contact the Embassy for further information before departure.

Application requirements

(a) Valid passport. (b) One application form and one copy. (c) Two passport-size photos. (d) Return ticket or confirmation of booking from travel agent. (e) Fee payable by cheque or cash. (f) If applying by post enclose pre-paid, next-day special delivery envelope. Business: (a)-(f) and, (g) Letter of recommendation and confirmation of employment on company-headed notepaper with details about the applicant's business activity, stating the company or individual responsible for expenses and the name of correspondent in Madagascar.

Working days required

Same day (personal applications); up to five days (postal applications).

Temporary residence

Enquire at Consulate (or Consular section at Embassy).

HIV entry requirements

No test Required

Departure tax

None

Embassies

Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Madagascar in the UK

16 Lanark Mansions, Pennard Road, London W12 8DT, UK
Tel: (020) 8746 0133.
Website: http://www.embassyhomepage.com/madagascar/contact-malagasy-embassy-london-uk.htm
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 0930-1300.

Embassy of the Republic of Madagascar in the USA

2374 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA
Tel: (202) 265 5525-7.
Most visits to Madagascar are trouble-free but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate international terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.
Travelers should avoid walking in city centers after dark.
There have been reports of hold-ups at night on some of the major roads.
This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organizations for the latest travel advice:

British Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Website: www.fco.gov.uk

US Department of State

Website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html

Currency

The pre-colonial Ariary (MGA) has been reintroduced to replace the Malagasy Franc (MGF). Notes are in denominations of MGA10,000, 5000, 2000, 1000, 500, 200 and 100. Coins are in denominations of MGA 50, 20, 10 and 5. Malagasy Francs are no longer legal tender but can be exchanged at banks until 2009.

Currency restrictions

The import of local currency is limited to MGA1000. The export of local currency is prohibited to non-residents. The import and export of foreign currency is unlimited, subject to declaration.

Banking hours

Mon-Fri 0800-1100 and 1400-1600.

Currency exchange

Malagasy Francs can be bought only at banks and official bureaux de change in hotels and at the airport in Antananarivo. Hotels have a less favorable exchange rate. A few ATMs have now been installed in Antananarivo. The Ariary is a non-convertible currency and cannot be exchanged back into tradable currency. Therefore it is a good idea to exchange currency as required.

Credit cards

American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are accepted at top-end hotels in Tana and the provincial capitals. These and other cards have limited use elsewhere in the country. Check with your credit or debit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.

Travellers cheques

These can be exchanged in banks and major hotels. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travelers are advised to take traveller's cheques in Euros or US Dollars.

City/RegionCity/Area codeFollowed by
Antananarivo202+ 6 digits
Antsiranana208+ 6 digits
Fianarantsoa207+ 6 digits
Mahajanga206+ 6 digits
Toamasina205+ 6 digits
Toliary209+ 6 digits
  1. Health Information
  2. Recent Disease Outbreak
  3. Hospital Database

Dental care

There is little dental care available in Madagascar

Medication Availability

Limited supplies of medication are generally available in the hospitals or the larger pharmacies in the capital

Blood supplies

Blood supplies should be considered as unsafe in Madagascar

Medical facilities

There are several competent foreign physicians in Antananarivo, representing a broad range of specialties. The hospital infrastructure, however, is minimal and does not meet basic sanitary norms. A Seventh Day Adventist Dental Clinic offers emergency procedures and is up to Western standards in both standard procedures and cleanliness. There are also competent laboratory and X-ray facilities. Most medications are available on the local market and are mainly of French origin. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

General caution

Recent medical and dental exams should ensure that the traveler is in good health. Carry appropriate health and accident insurance documents and copies of any important medical records. Bring an adequate supply of all prescription and other medications as well as any necessary personal hygiene items, including a spare pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses if necessary. Drink only bottled beverages (including water) or beverages made with boiled water. Do not use ice cubes or eat raw seafood, rare meat or dairy products. Eat well-cooked foods while they are still hot and fruits that can be peeled without contamination. Avoid roadside stands and street vendors. Swim only in well-maintained, chlorinated pools or ocean water known to be free from pollution; avoid freshwater lakes, streams and rivers. Wear clothing which reduces exposed skin and apply repellents containing DEET to remaining areas. Sleep in well-screened accommodations. Carry anti-diarrheal medication. Reduce problems related to sun exposure by using sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, sunscreen lotions and lip protection.

Specific concerns

AIDS occurs. Blood supply may not be adequately screened and/or single-use, disposable needles and syringes may be unavailable. When possible, travelers should defer medical treatment until reaching a facility where safety can be assured. The U.S. Transportation Department reports that insecticides are routinely sprayed inside airplanes before arriving passengers disembark.

Immunization

Hepatitis A: Consider active immunization with hepatitis A vaccine or passive immunization with immune globulin (IG) for all susceptible travelers. Especially consider choosing active immunization for persons planning to reside for a long period or for persons who take frequent short-term trips to risk areas. The importance of protection against hepatitis A increases as length of stay increases. It is particularly important for persons who will be living in or visiting rural areas, eating or drinking in settings of poor or uncertain sanitation, or who will have close contact with local persons (especially young children) in settings with poor sanitary conditions. Hepatitis B: Vaccination is advised for health care workers, persons anticipating direct contact with blood from or sexual contact with inhabitants, and persons planning extended stays of 6 months or greater (especially those who anticipate using local health care facilities, staying in rural areas, or having intimate contact with the local population). Plague: Vaccination is recommended only for those persons whose occupation or circumstances make avoidance of fleas and rodents difficult when traveling or working in rural or urban areas where plague is known to be active in wild rodents or has been reported to exist in humans and/or commensal rats. Polio: A one-time booster dose is recommended for travelers who have previously completed a standard course of polio immunization. Refer to CDC guidelines for vaccinating unimmunized or incompletely immunized persons. Pregnancy is a relative contraindication to vaccination; however, if protection is needed, either IPV or OPV may be used, depending on preference and time available. Rabies: Preexposure vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 30 days who are expected to be at risk to bites from domestic and/or wild animals (particularly dogs), or for persons engaged in high risk activities such as spelunking or animal handling. Need for vaccination is more important if potential exposure is in rural areas and if adequate postexposure care is not readily available. Typhoid: Vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 3 weeks, adventurous eaters, and those who will venture off the usual tourist routes into small cities, villages and rural areas. Importance of vaccination increases as access to reasonable medical care becomes limited. Contraindications depend on vaccine type. Note: All routine vaccines (such as DTP or Td, Hib, MMR, polio, varicella, influenza and pneumococcal) should be kept up-to-date as a matter of good health practice unrelated to travel.

Disease risk summary

Insect-borne diseases: are major causes of illness. Many diseases are endemic, with only scattered cases being reported and, from time to time, more extensive outbreaks. Dengue fever - occurs Filariasis - prevalent Leishmaniasis - occurs (both cutaneous and visceral types may be found, particularly in the drier areas) Malaria - prevalent Plague - occurs Relapsing fever - occurs Typhus - occurs (louse-, flea-, and tick-borne types occur) Food-borne and water-borne illness: highly endemic. The dysenteries and diarrheal diseases, giardiasis, the typhoid fevers and viral hepatitis are widespread. Echinococcosis (hydatid disease) is widespread in animal-breeding areas. Dracunculiasis - occurs Helminthic (parasitic worm) infections - prevalent Schistosomiasis - common Other hazards: Diseases such as measles and diphtheria are commonly reported, and cases of polio still occur regularly. Influenza risk extends throughout the year. Rabies - occurs Trachoma - prevalent

Entry requirements

Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travelers coming from, or having been in transit in, infected areas. Reportable Disease Status Cholera: Officially considered infected. Infection reported in these provinces: Antananarivo, Antsiranana, and Mahajanga. Plague: Officially considered infected. Infection reported in these provinces: Antananarivo, Antsiranana, Fianarantsoa, Mahajanga, Toamasina.

Recent disease outbreaks

No recent disease outbreaks

NameAddress
Centre de Diagnostic de TananariveBP 5120 -101 Lot IVL - 176 Anosivavaka Ambohimanarina Antananarivo
Centre Hospitalier de SoavinandrianaSoavinandriana Antananarivo 101
Clinic Saint Francois d'AssiseLalana Dokotera Rajaonale Ankadifotsy Antananarivo 101
Hopital Josephe RavoahangyAndrianavalona Ampefiloha Antanarivo 101

Media

Mr Ravalomanana owns the private Malagasy Broadcasting System, which operates the MBS TV and Radio MBS networks. Although nationwide radio and TV broadcasting remain the monopoly of the state, there are hundreds of private local radio and TV stations.
Press: There are no English-language newspapers; six dailies are published in French and/or Malagasy. The main papers include La Gazette de la Grande Ile, Madagascar Tribune and Midi Madagasikara.
TV: Television Malagasy (TVM) is state-owned. Radio-Television Analamanga is privately run, as is Madagascar TV. The commercial MBS TV is owned by Ravalomanana.
Radio: Many private radio stations in the capital are owned by pro-Ravalomanana politicians. However, a boom in privately-owned FM radio stations and more critical political reporting by the print media followed 1990's law on press freedom. Malagasy National Radio (RNM) is state-owned; privately owned stations include Radio Don Bosco (Roman Catholic FM station), Radio Tsioka Vao and Radio Korail; Radio MBS is commerical and owned by Ravalomanana.

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