Antananarivo

Antananarivo is the capital of Madagascar. It is also known by its French name, Tananarive, or by its colloquial shorthand form, Tana.

Antananarivo-Renivohitra ("Antananarivo-Capital") is the capital of the Analamanga region and of the Antananarivo autonomous province.

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 2½ miles and rising at its highest point to 690 ft. above the extensive rice plain to the west, which is itself 4,060 ft. above sea-level. It is Madagascar's largest city and is its administrative, communications, and economic center. The city is located 135 miles west-southwest of Toamasina, the principal seaport of the island, with which it is connected by railway, and for about 60 miles along the coastal lagoons, a service of small steamers. Industries include food products, cigarettes, and textiles. Approximately 120 km (75 miles) to the northeast is Mantadia National Park.

Antananarivo was founded in about 1625 by King Andrianjaka and takes its name (the City of the Thousand) from the number of soldiers Andrianjaka assigned to guarding it. For a long time it was the principal village of the Hova chiefs, Antananarivo became more important as those chiefs made themselves sovereigns of the greater part of Madagascar, until it became a town of some 80,000 inhabitants. In 1793 it was made the capital of the Merina kings. The conquests of King Radama I made Antananarivo the capital of almost all of Madagascar. Until 1869, all buildings within the city proper were of wood or rushes, but even then it possessed several timber palaces of considerable size, the largest being 120 ft high. These crown the summit of the central portion of the ridge; and the largest palace, with its lofty roof and towers, is the most conspicuous object from every point of view.

Since the introduction of stone and brick, the whole city has been rebuilt and now contains numerous structures of some architectural pretension, the royal palaces, the houses formerly belonging to the prime minister and nobles, the French residency, the Anglican and Roman Catholic cathedrals, several stone churches, as well as others of brick, colleges, schools, hospitals, courts of justice and other government buildings, and hundreds of good dwellings.

Information based on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antananarivo

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