History of Antsirabe

Antsirabe (Malagasy pronunciation: [anˌtsiraˈbe]) is the third largest city in Madagascar and the capital of the Vakinankaratra region, with a population of 238,478 in 2013.[1] In Madagascar, Antsirabe is known for its relatively cool climate (as the rest of the central region of the country), its industry and the high concentration of pulled rickshaws or pousse-pousse (in French), among other things.05

Etymology

The Malagasy name Antsirabe translates into « the place of much salt ». The city has the nicknames ville d’eau (‘city of water’ in French) and visy gasy or le Vichy malgache (‘the Malagasy Vichy‘ in Malagasy and French respectively), referring to the presence of multiple thermal springs in the area.

History

The area where Antsirabe is found today was part of the Kingdom of Andrantsay which existed from the early 1600s until it was incorporated into the Imerina kingdom in the early 1800s. The area was a farming region, with production of rice, vegetables and fruit.[3]

The first Norwegian missionaries arrived in 1868. Limestone and sulphur were exploited in the area at this time.[3]

The city was founded by Norwegian missionary T.G. Rosaas in 1872 as a hill station to serve as a retreat centre because of the much cooler climate. The thermal baths were opened in 1917.

In 1886 the Norwegian mission established the leper hospital of Ambohipiantrana and it quickly developed into a village for lepers. The colonial government decided to make it the leper hospital of Vakinankaratra and the around 950 people with the illness lived there in 1904.[3]

During the French colonial rule the centre of the Vakinankaratra region shifted from the Andrantsay capital of Fivavahana to Antsirabe.

Geography and climate

Antsirabe is situated at an altitude of about 1,500 m (4,900 ft), making its climate subtropical highland (Cwb).[4] During the winter the temperature can fall below 0 °C (32 °F) at night.

May to September form the coldest and driest part of the year with average monthly temperatures between 14 °C (57 °F) and 17 °C (63 °F) and an average number of days with precipitation per month of 1–2. From November to March the climate is warmer and wetter with on average 12 to 17 days with precipitation per month and average temperature of approximately 20 °C (68 °F). April and October have average temperatures of 19.2 °C (66.6 °F) and 18.5 °C (65.3 °F) respectively and 5–6 days of rain.[5]

The Ankaratra volcanic field covers an area about 100 km long from Antsirabe northwards to Arivonimamo where highest peak reaches 2,644 m (8,675 ft). This volcanic field is « the most prominent and volcanologically diverse (sic) on Madagascar ».[6] Several water-filled craters are found in the area around Antsirabe, including Lake Tritriva to the south-west. There are hot springs which are utilised by the Ranomafana thermal bath in the city.

Climate data for Antsirabe
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 24.9
(76.8)
25
(77)
24.4
(75.9)
23.8
(74.8)
21.8
(71.2)
19.7
(67.5)
19.3
(66.7)
20.4
(68.7)
23.3
(73.9)
25
(77)
26.1
(79)
25.1
(77.2)
23.23
(73.81)
Daily mean °C (°F) 19.6
(67.3)
19.7
(67.5)
19.1
(66.4)
17.7
(63.9)
15.3
(59.5)
13.1
(55.6)
12.7
(54.9)
13.3
(55.9)
15.6
(60.1)
17.7
(63.9)
19.2
(66.6)
19.5
(67.1)
16.87
(62.39)
Average low °C (°F) 14.4
(57.9)
14.4
(57.9)
13.9
(57)
11.7
(53.1)
8.8
(47.8)
6.6
(43.9)
6.2
(43.2)
6.3
(43.3)
7.9
(46.2)
10
(50)
12.3
(54.1)
13.9
(57)
10.53
(50.95)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 298
(11.73)
243
(9.57)
191
(7.52)
90
(3.54)
31
(1.22)
13
(0.51)
12
(0.47)
11
(0.43)
28
(1.1)
68
(2.68)
147
(5.79)
249
(9.8)
1,381
(54.36)
Source: Climate-Data.org (altitude: 1507m)[4]

Language

The majority of the population belongs to the Merina ethnic group, which speaks a highland dialect of Malagasy. As in other urban areas of Madagascar, French and English are widely understood