Traveling Luck for Madagascar

Madagascar is located in Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Mozambique.

Land in Madagascar is narrow coastal plain, high plateau and mountains in center.

Malagasy land covers an area of 587040 square kilometers which is slightly less than twice the size of Arizona

As for the Malagasy climate; tropical along coast, temperate inland, arid in south.

Malagasy (singular and plural) speak French (official), Malagasy (official).

Malagasy National Map

Malagasy Map

Regions of Madagascar

Formerly an independent kingdom, Madagascar became a French colony in 1896, but regained its independence in 1960. During 1992-93, free presidential and National Assembly elections were held, ending 17 years of single-party rule. In 1997, in the second presidential race, Didier RATSIRAKA, the leader during the 1970s and 1980s, was returned to the presidency. The 2001 presidential election was contested between the followers of Didier RATSIRAKA and Marc RAVALOMANANA, nearly causing secession of half of the country. In April 2002, the High Constitutional Court announced RAVALOMANANA the winner.


Madagascar Country Profile

Having discarded past socialist economic policies, Madagascar has since the mid 1990s followed a World Bank- and IMF-led policy of privatization and liberalization. This strategy placed the country on a slow and steady growth path from an extremely low level. Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is a mainstay of the economy, accounting for more than one-fourth of GDP and employing 80% of the population. Exports of apparel have boomed in recent years primarily due to duty-free access to the United States. Deforestation and erosion, aggravated by the use of firewood as the primary source of fuel, are serious concerns. President RAVALOMANANA has worked aggressively to revive the economy following the 2002 political crisis, which triggered a 12% drop in GDP that year. Poverty reduction and combating corruption will be the centerpieces of economic policy for the next few years.

Malagasy natural resources include graphite, chromite, coal, bauxite, salt, quartz, tar sands, semiprecious stones, mica, fish, hydropower

world's fourth-largest island; strategic location along Mozambique Channel

Malagasy religion is indigenous beliefs 52%, Christian 41%, Muslim 7%.

Natural hazards in Madagascar include periodic cyclones, drought, and locust infestation.

Travel Advice on Madagascar

Madagascar

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Summary and Political Situation section.  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • There is no British Embassy in Madagascar, but there is an Honorary British Consul in Toamasima.  Madagascar is covered from the British High Commission in Port Louis.  Please see the General section of this travel advice for more information.

  • You should avoid driving outside urban areas after dark, as there have been armed robberies at night on some of the major roads.

  • The threat from terrorism is low.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be against civilian targets including places frequented by foreigners.

  • Most visits to Madagascar are trouble free.  The main types of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Madagascar are for lost and stolen passports.  Pick-pocketing is common in street markets, you should keep clear of any disturbances.  Muggings and armed robberies do occur in urban areas.  Take sensible precautions.  Avoid walking in town centres after dark.

  • The cyclone season in Madagascar normally runs from January to March, coastal areas are particularly affected.  Please see the Natural Disasters section of this Travel Advice and Hurricanes for more information.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime
Muggings and armed robberies do occur, particularly in urban areas.  Keep large amounts of money, especially jewellery, cameras and cell phones out of sight when walking in town centres.  Take sensible precautions in crowded areas such as markets.  Avoid walking in the city centres after dark.
Safeguard valuables, important documents and cash.  Deposit them in hotel safes, where practicable.  Keep copies of important documents, including passports, in a separate place to the documents themselves.
Beware of pickpockets, particularly at airports and street markets, you should keep clear of any street disturbances.  Do not leave your bags unattended.
Political Situation

Madagascar Country Profile.

Local Travel
Avoid travelling outside urban areas at night as there are occasional armed robberies on the main highways.
There have been incidences of armed robbery in some National Parks.  If you intend to visit a National Park, seek advice from a tour operator or from the park administration in advance.
If you plan to travel outside Antananarivo, you should re-confirm bookings before leaving the capital.
Road Safety
Road conditions vary greatly.  In the rainy season (December to April), most secondary roads are impassable (except for four wheel drive vehicles) and bridges are frequently washed away.  Operation of river ferries may be irregular.  Check with the local authorities before setting off to find out whether your chosen route is passable.
Most of the major roads out of Antananarivo carry heavy freight traffic and have a number of steep gradients and sharp bends.  Drive with extreme caution.
Malagasy regulations specify that foreigners driving in Madagascar require an international driving licence.
Air Safety
The EU has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the community.  You should check the following link to see whether this will affect your travel: http://europa.eu.int/comm/transport/air/safety/flywell_en.htm.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

In some parts of Madagascar, aspects of daily life are regulated by taboos (known as fady).  These vary from one region to another.  Fady can range from forbidden foods to restrictions in clothing.  Some areas subject to fady may be forbidden to foreigners, but these are mainly in remote parts of the country.  Especially if you intend to visit remote areas, you should seek prior advice either locally or from your tour operator and respect local fady wherever possible to avoid causing offence.
Drug smuggling is a serious offence, which may result in long prison sentences, fines and deportation.
Homosexuality is not illegal.
You should carry some form of identification with you at all time.  The police can and do stop vehicles and pedestrians to check papers, particularly late at night.
The import and export of foodstuffs (including fruit), protected plants and animals is illegal.
Non-residents may take up to 1 kilogram of precious and semi-precious stones out of the country provided proper receipts are produced; residents are restricted to taking 250 grams out of Madagascar.
You may only take out 100 grams of vanilla.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

Visas are required for entry to Madagascar. They may be obtained at the airport on arrival. The fee is the equivalent of Ar 58,000 (14 Euros) and can be paid in hard currency (preferably euros or dollars). The Malagasy Consulate, 16 Lanark Mansions, Pennard Road, London, W12 8DT; (tel: 020 8746 0133) offers a visa service.
Minors already in possession of a visa do not need further parental approval for travel.
Please ensure that your visa is valid for the period and purpose of your journey. Overstaying can lead to detention and eventual deportation.
Malagasy law requires that visitors have a return air ticket. You will be asked for evidence of this at check-in in the UK and on arrival in Madagascar.
If you have previously visited a country where yellow fever is prevalent, you will need to produce a certificate of vaccination against yellow fever on entry. If you cannot produce a certificate, you will be required to visit the Institut Pasteur in Antananarivo to be vaccinated.


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  This should include cover for medical evacuation by air ambulance.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance.
Although there are a number of public and private hospitals in Antananarivo, only routine operations can be handled.  If complex surgery is required, you will be medically evacuated either to South Africa or La Reunion.
Malaria, including a virulent strain of cerebral malaria, is endemic in Madagascar, particularly in coastal areas.  More than three-quarters of British travellers who contracted malaria in 2005 did not take preventive measures, such as taking malaria prevention tablets.  However, malaria can occur despite appropriate prevention, and therefore you should promptly seek medical care in the event of a fever or flu-like illness in the first year following your return from travelling to a malaria risk country.  Before travelling you should seek medical advice about the malaria risk in Madagascar.
Bilharzia, tuberculosis and bubonic plague are all endemic in Madagascar.
There have been reported cases of dengue fever and Chikungunya virus in Madagascar.  Both diseases are transmitted by mosquitoes.  You should take precautionary measures to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes at all times as the mosquitoes are also active during daylight hours.  Further information on Chikungunya can be found on the World Health Organisation website at:  http://www.who.int/csr/don/2006_02_17a/en/.

Rabies is endemic in Madagascar.  The rabies virus is transmitted through the saliva of infected animals and transmitted to humans through bites, scratches or contact of saliva with broken skin and can be fatal once symptoms manifest themselves.  All travellers who have possibly been exposed to the rabies virus, whether by bites, scratches or other exposure, should seek medical advice without delay (even if pre-exposure vaccine was received).  This also applies to travellers in low risk areas in case other animal-transmitted infection are present, or the animal may have strayed across the border from an endemic country.  More information can be found on the NaTHNaC website. 
Sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS are prevalent throughout the country.  You should be particularly alert to the dangers of unprotected sex.
Outbreaks of cholera do occur, particularly during the rainy season (December-April).  Drinking water should be filtered and boiled or bought in brand bottles with unbroken seals.  You should only eat food which has been thoroughly cooked and for which basic hygiene precautions have been taken.  Food purchased from local street vendors may not meet adequate hygiene standards.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on health check the Department of Health website at www.dh.gov.uk.
NATURAL DISASTERS

The cyclone season in Madagascar normally runs from January to March, coastal areas are particularly affected.  You should monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).  You can also access http://www.nhc.noaa.gov for updates.  Please also see Hurricanes for more detailed information about what to do if you are caught up in a cyclone.
The capital Antananarivo is not seriously affected by cyclones.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see: What We Can Do To Help.
There is no British Embassy in Madagascar, but there is an Honorary British Consul in Toamasima (Tel: 00 261 20 5332548 or Email: sealtmm@wanadoo.mg), who can be contacted by people in the Toamasima region in emergencies only.  All other enquiries should be directed to the British High Commission in Port Louis, Mauritius, which covers Madagascar.

Money

Limits on the amount of money, which can be changed at one time, are still in place, although these are gradually being relaxed.  You should check with individual banks.  Western Union is operating for inward currency transfers only.  You should also check opening hours of Western Union agencies as these may vary.  Some banks will only change Euros or US dollars.  Generally, travellers' cheques are accepted by most banks.  However, there have been cases of fraudulent American Express travellers’ cheques in circulation and many banks now refuse to accept them.  The local bank, BMOI, will not accept travellers’ cheques issued by Thomas Cook.
Credit cards are accepted at a growing number of outlets in Antananarivo, but are rarely accepted anywhere else.  A charge of up to 7% of the transaction value is levied.  ATMs are increasingly available around the capital and in some of the larger towns.  A charge of about 1.5% is made.
The maximum amount of Malagasy currency you can take out is 400,000 Ariary (approximately £120).  Some banks will not exchange local currency back into foreign currency, so visitors should ensure that they are not left with large amounts of Malagasy Ariary at the end of their stay.  It is advisable to keep transaction slips showing amounts of foreign currency transferred in local currency.  Foreign currency of more than 7,500 Euros in value must be declared on arrival.