Geography of the Malagasy Highlands
The Malagasy Highlands refer to the province of Antananarivo, capital of Madagascar and also to the province of Fianarantsoa. Located in the centre of the island, Antananarivo has an area of 58,283 km2 and is occupied by 5,932,607 inhabitants known as “Tananarivians” or the “Merina” ethnic group. For its part, Fianarantsoa occupies 103,272 km2 of Malagasy land and has 4,142,444 inhabitants, including the “Betsileo”.
The tourist assets of the geography of the Highlands
Why are the provinces of Antananarivo and Fianarantsoa called “the Central Highlands”? With a mountainous relief, the centre of Madagascar or the “Highlands” is made up of a tangle of massifs, hills, plateaus, vast plains and basins. These mountainous areas occupy 60% of Madagascar’s territory and range from 800 to 1500 m in altitude. You can therefore easily practice activities at altitude: hiking, mountaineering, etc. If you want to take up challenges, survey Madagascar’s 2nd highest peak in the Vakinankaratra region: the volcanic peak of Tsiafajavona with an altitude of 2,642 m. With an altitude tropical climate, Antananarivo reaches 30°C in rainy summer and 10°C in winter. The relief and climate of the Central Highlands favour vegetation and agriculture. There is no shortage of tourist attractions if you want to discover different aspects of Madagascar’s beauty.
Discovery of the Highlands: territorial subdivisions
Antananarivo is divided into four regions: Analamanga in the northwestern part, Bongolava in the northeast, Itasy in the center and Vakinankaratra in the entire southern part. It is also known for the history of the 12 famous sacred hills built at the end of the 18th century by King “Andrianampoinimerina”. You have the hills of Antananarivo, Ambohimanga, Ilafy, Namehana, Ambohitrabiby and Alasora. You can take a travel tour to visit all the hills. The first six hills are identical in the writings of the researchers. The other six are variable: Ambatomanoina, Arivonimamo, Ambohitraina, Ambohidratrimo, Ampandrana and Ambohijoky according to Rabenjamina’s writings. Later, he replaced the last three with Ambohiniazy, Iharanandriana and Ikaloy. This will give you more places to visit. Fianarantsoa contains five (5) regions or “faritra”: Atsimo-Atsinanana, Amoron’i Mania, Ihorombe, Haute Matsiatra and Vatovavy Fitovinany. This vast province leans towards the southeast of the island, so its climate, relief and vegetation are slightly influenced by the geography of the east and south.
Madagascar’s Central Highlands offer you magnificent contrasting landscapes: large cities with buildings, prestigious hotels and restaurants, green rice fields on the plains, tourist sites and historical monuments, etc. Your trip to the centre of the red island will be most exciting and rewarding.