Madagascar Population, Main Cities and Geography

By | January 27, 2023

Madagascar: population and cities


According to Countryaah website, Madagascar has about 27 million residents. The life expectancy of women is around 61.5 years and the life expectancy of men around 58.3 years. The high fertility rate (five children per woman) contrasts with the high infant mortality rate (74 out of 1,000 live births). Medical care is poor. There are just 30 doctors for every 100,000 people. Only every second Madagascan has access to clean drinking water, even though the UN declared the supply of clean water a human right in 2010. Another problem in the country is illiteracy, with the illiteracy rate among women being far higher than among men.

Ethnic composition

In Madagascar there are 18 ethnic groups or main ethnic groups that are recognized by the Malagasy state. The three largest of these ethnic groups are the Merina (25%), the Betsimisaraka (15%) and the Betsileo (12%). There are also numerous other ethnicities and groups in Madagascar. In addition, many foreigners live on the island. Most of them come from the Comoros and France. In recent years, however, many Chinese and Indians have also come to the country.

Religious affiliation

About 15 million animists, 8 million Christians (including about 4.5 million Catholics and 3.5 million Protestants) and about 1.4 million Muslims live on Madagascar, most of them in the north and west of the country dwell.

Furthermore, about 1% are Hindus.

Most of the Malagasy people believe in natural religions (i.e. animism and ancestor worship). This belief also determines the everyday life and customs of the islanders.

National language

The official languages of Madagascar are Malagasy, French and English. Malagasy is spoken by the majority of the island’s residents, except for the immigrant Mozambique people in some west coast villages (they speak Makoa) and the people of Nosy Be who speak Swahili. There are also many other tribal languages such as Howa.

Capital and other cities

Antananarivo The largest city in Madagascar with around 2 million residents is the capital Antananarivo, which extends in the central mountainous region of the island at an altitude of 1,435 meters. The city, also called Tana (or earlier Tananarive), whose name translates as “City of a Thousand”, was founded in 1625 and is now the administrative, economic and political center of Madagascar. According to a list by Forbes magazine, the third-healthiest city in the world is home to the state Université d’Antananarivo and has the island’s international airport, Ivato. The city is not an absolute tourist magnet, but offers some interesting highlights such as the old wooden palace Rova, the Zoma Friday market and the pirate museum. According to Abbreviation Finder, MDG stands for Madagascar in English. Click to see other meanings of this 3-letter acronym.


Only a few kilometers from Antananarivo is Ambohimanga, the birthplace of Madagascar.

The city, which is provided with numerous historical memorabilia, is also known as the Holy or Hidden City, because it is surrounded on all sides by forest. The old royal palace and the citadel are among the most famous tourist magnets of Ambohimanga.


This tiny, but traditional Vezo fishing and beach village is isolated and spared from mass tourism on the southwest coast of Madagascar. Anakao beach is very spacious, white and ideal for fishing, diving and surfing.


In Antsirabe (German: where there is a lot of salt), the capital of the Vakinankaratra region in the Antananarivo province, about 201,000 people currently live. The most important center of the Betsileo country after Fianarantsoa was called Vichy Madagascar during colonial times because of its thermal springs.


Fianarantsoa has about 170,000 residents and is often used as a starting point for tours to the south and the east coast.

Fort Dauphin

Right by the sea in the south of Madagascar is Fort Dauphin, a city that is ideal for excursions to some national parks. Another plus point for Fort Dauphin are the secluded beaches that stretch for miles along the water.


In the west of Madagascar and directly on the Mozambique Channel, the coastal town of Morondava spreads out, which is connected to Antananarivo via regular flights from Air Madagascar.

The city is a rather relaxed and touristically relatively well developed place, especially in direct comparison to the Malagasy capital, because Morondava is less crowded, cheaper and cleaner.

The city attracts with its spacious, clean beach, good overnight and dining options and is an excellent starting point for trips to the picturesque fishing village of Belo sur Mer, the avenue of the baobabs and the Kirindy nature reserve.

Toamasina (French: Tamatave)

About 206,000 people currently live in Toamasina, the main seaport of Madagascar, which handles around 70% of Malagasy shipping. The city, unfortunately destroyed by a hurricane in 1927 and later completely rebuilt, experienced the next devastation in 1986 when a cyclone swept over it. Toamasina is connected to the Malagasy capital Antananarivo by a railway line and has a forest station with a zoo, the Parc Zoologique d’Ivoloina, which is 12 kilometers away in Ivoloina.

Madagascar: geography, map

Madagascar is around km from the east coast of Africa. About 100 million years ago, today’s island separated from the African continent – with far-reaching consequences for the island’s fauna and flora. Madagascar covers a total area of 587,295 km². Check topmbadirectory for politics, flags, famous people, animals and plants of Madagascar. Thereof:

  • ForestAround 25% of the country is forested.
  • Fields and fieldsAround 63% of the land is used as arable land or fields, especially for growing coffee, cloves, sisal, sugar cane and vanilla.
  • MountainsIn Madagascar there are the Tsaratanana Mountains, the Ankaratra Mountains and in the south the Andringitra Mountains.

National borders

Madagascar is an island and therefore has no common national border with any state. The island is completely surrounded by the Indian Ocean.

Longitude and latitude

Madagascar extends over the following geographical latitude (abbreviation Δφ) and geographical longitude (abbreviation Δλ):

Δφ = from around 12 ° to 25 ° south latitude Δλ = from around 043 ° to 050 ° east longitude

You can find detailed information on this subject under Longitude and Latitude.


For Madagascar, the following value applies to Central European Time (CET), i.e. the time (without summer time). A minus sign means that it is earlier there, a plus sign that it is later than CET:

Δ t (CET) = + 2 h

Further and detailed explanations of the time can be found under Time zones, time.

The highest point of the sun in Antananarivo

Antananarivo is located at a southern latitude of around φ = 19 °.

If the declination δ of the sun has the value of 19 ° south, and thus the image point of the sun is exactly above the city, the sun is perpendicular there. This happens exactly twice a year, roughly 1 month before March 21st and 1 month after September 21st (for details see position of the sun).


If the image point of the sun and thus the declination δ is north of the latitude of Antananarivo, the sun is not in the south at noon, as in our latitudes, but in the north. In this case, the sun moves from east to north to west, where, like us, it sets.



The highest mountain in the country is the Maromokotro with a height of 2,886 m.

Boby (Andringita), Tsiafajavona

Other high mountains are the Boby (Andringita) with a height of 2,656 m and the Tsiafajavona with a height of 2,643 m.



The longest river in the country is the Mangoky with a length of around 560 km.


Another river in the country is the Betsiboka with a length of around 520 km.

Lakes on the island

The island includes numerous smaller and larger lakes.

Alaotra Lake

The largest lake is Alaotra Lake with an area of about 220 km².

Islands off Madagascar

The following smaller islands are in front of the island:

  • Nosy Be (scent island) with an area of 293 km²
  • St. Marie (Pirate Island)

Straits of Madagascar, Indian Ocean

To the west, Madagascar borders the Strait of Madagascar, a part of the Indian Ocean that surrounds the island.

Madagascar Population