Religion: Indigenous beliefs 52%, Christian 41%, Islam 7%
Language: Malagasy and French (both official).
Area (sq. km):
587,040 square meters
Time: GMT + 3 hours
Airports: Antananarivo Ivato Airport, 17km (11 miles) from the city. Airport facilities include restaurant and bureau de change (open during arrivals and departures of international flights). It is linked by a regular bus service to the Air Madagascar office and the Hilton Hotel (the centre for Madagascar Air tours). Taxis asking special higher rates are also available at the airport.
Telephone: Madagascar country code 261
Electricity: 110 to 220V; assume 220V when in doubt
Food: In Madagascar, eating well means eating a lot. You can recognize the influence of the French in the food, which is not as highly spiced as in most of Africa. Malagasy cooking is based on a large serving of rice (most of which is home grown) with a dressing of sauces, meat, vegetables and seasoning. Dishes include 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). 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. Malagasy drinks include litchel (an aperitif made from litchis), betsa (fermented alcohol) and toaka gasy (distilled from cane sugar and rice) and ‘Three Horses’ lager. Non-alcoholic drinks include ranon ’apango or rano vda (made from burnt rice) and local mineral waters.
Shopping: Make sure you leave some room in your luggage for all the ‘extras’ you buy along the way. Items such as raffia work, wood carvings, crocheted and embroider table clothes, and leather goods just to name a few. The south of the island is where you can buy silver bracelets that are traditionally worn by the men of Madagascar. Go to the east of the island for your spices and cloves. It’s a sad thing to see but unfortunately it still appears that you can buy souvenirs made from endangered species such as turtle shell, snake skins, shells and coral as well as live animals! Please help these endangered species and do not to buy them.
All foreign visitors to the Republic of Madagascar require entry visas. A tourist visa valid for a maximum 30 days is free and can be obtained on arrival. To obtain a visa at the airport, you must produce the following:
1. A return airline ticket (the length of the visa will be issued according to the dates of your airline ticket).
2. A passport with 6 months validity from your date of return.
3. A trip itinerary.