ANTANANARIVO, i.e. "town of a thousand" (Fr. spelling Tananarive), the capital of Madagascar, situated centrally as regards the length of the island, but only about 90 m. distant from the eastern coast, in 18° 55' S., 47° 30' E. It is 135 m. W.S.W. of Tamatave, the principal seaport of the island, with which it is connected by railway, and for about 60 m. along the coast lagoons, a service of small steamers. The city occupies a commanding position, being chiefly built on the summit and slopes of a long and narrow rocky ridge, which extends north and south for about 2 m., dividing to the north in a Y-shape, and rising at its highest point to 690 ft. above the extensive rice plain to the west, which is itself 4060 ft. above sea-level. For long only the principal village of the Hova chiefs, Antananarivo advanced in importance as those chiefs made themselves sovereigns of the greater part of Madagascar, until it became a town of some 80,000 inhabitants. Until 1869 all buildings within the city proper were of wood or rush, 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 dwelling-houses. Since the French conquest in 1895 good roads have been constructed throughout the city, broad flights of steps connect places too steep for the formation of carriage roads, and the central space, called Andohalo, has become a handsome place, with walks and terraces, flower-beds and trees. A small park has been laid out near the residency, and the planting of trees and the formation of gardens in various parts of the city give it a bright and attractive appearance. Water is obtained from springs at the foot of the hill, but it is proposed to bring an abundant supply from the river Ikopa, which skirts the capital to the south and west. The population, including that of the suburbs, is 69,000 (1907). The city is guarded by two forts built on hills to the east and south-west respectively. Including an Anglican and a Roman Catholic cathedral, there are about fifty churches in the city and its suburbs, as well as a Mahommedan mosque.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)