Madagascar is a desperately poor country. This is evident in a lot of places. One result of this is the extensive deforestation. Only 10% - 15% of the forests are left. Horrible erosion scars are everywhere, and all the rivers are red/brown with the eroded top soil. One reason is the need for local people for firewood, the other is clear-cutting for agriculture. I am afraid that the only way out of this situation is increased tourism which could bring much-needed money to the country and would give more incentives to preserve what is left of the forests.

Antananarivo (Tana for short) is the capital of Madagascar. It is crowded and poor. From what we were told, there are over 1000 people living off garbage dumps in Tana. And it is getting worse because many people move to the city to get away from the poor conditions in the countryside, only to find that it is just as bad, if not worse in the city.

But the people outside of the largest cities were very friendly. They always laughed and waved at us as we drove by. Whenever we stopped, children started to come running to see us. Even in the most remote areas, they somehow came seemingly out of nowhere.

One aspect of the culture in Madagascar that was unusual for me are the tombs. Everywhere that we went we saw tombs of one kind or another, some of them very elaborate. The styles of the tombs and other burial arrangements are very different in different parts of the country. There are 18 tribes in Madagascar, and it seems as if every tribe has a different burial culture.

Here are some of the pictures from my trip about the people in Madagascar.

All pictures are © Dr. Günther Eichhorn, unless otherwise noted.


School Children
School children. (978k)
Village People Traditional Clothes
Village people in traditional clothes. (966k)
Areas Men Wrap Themselves
In some areas the men wrap themselves in colorful blankets. (1116k)
Women Carry Goods Market
Women carry goods to market on their heads. (924k)
Women Intricately Braided Hairdos
Many women have intricately braided hairdos. (915k)
Children Everywhere Average Number
Children are everywhere. The average number of children per family is about 6!! Whenever we stopped, the children in the area started running to the bus to look at us. The children care for their younger siblings. You frequently see 6-7 year old children holding 1-2 year old babies. (1070k)
Come Running Meet We
Here they come running to meet us when we stop. (990k)
Always Look Wave
As always, the look at us and wave at us. (1180k)
We Visited Village Teacher
When we visited this village, the teacher lined up the children and had them sing something for us. (1037k)
Children Watching
Children watching us. (1268k)
Children. (984k)
Deep Thought Watching
This one was deep in thought when she was watching us. (915k)
Catch Large Grasshoppers 15 cm
They catch large grasshoppers (15 cm (6") long), tie a string around them and use them as toys. (1151k)
Madagascar Desperately Poor We
Madagascar is desperately poor. We collected our empty water bottles and gave them to kids. They could make a few pennies from the old bottles and were always happy to get them. (883k)
Funeral Procession
Funeral procession. (984k)
Funeral Celebration
Funeral celebration. (1207k)


Visit Local School
Visit to a local school. (753k)
Vendors Everywhere Sell Everything
Vendors are everywhere, and they sell everything right on the street. (1065k)
Vendors Almost Always Make
The vendors almost always make neat little piles of their fruits and vegetables. This goes so far that the peanut vendors make little piles of 10-15 peanuts to sell them. (865k)
Flower Market
Flower market. (867k)
Vegetable Market
Vegetable market. (934k)
Toy Trucks Sale
Toy trucks for sale. (1083k)
Charcoal Vendor Make Charcoal
Charcoal vendor. They make charcoal in the forests and sell them in bags on the roadside. Charcoal making is one of the major causes for the deforestation in Madagascar. There are only about 10-15% of the forests left in Madagascar. The deforestation is really bad. (1126k)
Blacksmith Helper Alternately Pumps
A blacksmith. The helper alternately pumps the two bellows. The forced air at the bottom heats the iron piece that is being worked on. (1051k)
Polishing Gems Left Hand
He was polishing gems. To the left of his hand is a wooden block with several indentations. He puts the stick, to which the gemstone is fastened, in one of the indentations to get a certain angle of the facet to be polished. (918k)
Blacksmith Work
Blacksmith at work. (1092k)
Use Horns Cows Make
They use the horns of cows to make souveniers for tourists. He is separating the horn from the bone core on a fire. (860k)
Little Roadside Restaurant
A little roadside restaurant. (735k)
Butcher. (914k)
Laundry Done All Time
Laundry is done all the time and everywhere. The clothes are laid out to dry wherever the laundry is done (in the river, a lake, or any other piece of open water). (1149k)
Brick Maker
Brick maker. (1416k)
Brick Cut Mud Raw
Brick are cut out of the mud, the raw bricks are put in a big pile. Then a fire at the bottom of the pile fires the whole pile. The fired bricks are then taken out of the big pile. These brick piles where everywhere in the central parts of Madagascar around Tana. (1230k)


Taxi Tana Lots Old
A taxi in Tana. There are lots of old French cars in Madagascar, a remnant from the French colonial days. (1006k)
Traffic Tana Bad
Traffic in Tana is bad. (877k)
Unfortunately See Trucks Belching
Unfortunately you see trucks belching black smoke entirely too often. (826k)
Buses Often Small Almost
Buses are often small and almost always overloaded. (925k)
All Transportation Motorized Cattle
Not all transportation is motorized. Cattle are frequently used as draft animals. (998k)
Watusi Cattle Drawn Cart
Watusi cattle drawn cart. (1033k)
Cows Draft Animals
Cows as draft animals. (1114k)
Watusi Cattle (Bos taurus africanus)
Watusi Cattle (Bos taurus africanus, german: Hausrind, french: Vache). (1141k)
Watusi Cattle (Bos taurus africanus)
Watusi Cattle (Bos taurus africanus, german: Hausrind, french: Vache). (845k)
Rents Himself Hand-pushed Cart
He rents himself and his hand-pushed cart out for transporting goods. (912k)
Two Bicycle
Two on a bicycle. (841k)
Canoes Frequently Used Fishing
Canoes are frequently used for fishing. (1184k)
Also Used Transportation
They are also used for transportation. (890k)
Canoes Made Eucalyptus Trees
Canoes are made from Eucalyptus trees. (1305k)
Lot Getting Around Done
A lot of getting around is done on foot. These two were in the middle of nowhere, far from any settlement. (943k)
Too Far Any Settlement
He too was far from any settlement. (1089k)
Foot Bridge
A foot bridge. (1327k)
Even More Precarious Foot
An even more precarious foot bridge. (1371k)
Roads Quite Bad Area
Many roads are quite bad. In this area the road is where the cars can find a way through. When one path has potholes that are too big, you just drive around it and make a new road. (932k)
Sometimes Holes Inn Road
Sometimes the holes inn the road were so big that we had to get off the bus to lighten the load. (1052k)
Holes Too Deep Drive
When the holes were too deep to drive through, our assistant driver got the boulders out from the trunk and build a temporary bridge over the hole. The small truck got stuck some time ago. The owners are probably on their way to find somebody to pull them out, there was nobody around. (828k)
Our Stash Boulders Bridge
Our stash of boulders to bridge potholes. (847k)
Rickshaws Called Pousse Pousse
The rickshaws are called Pousse Pousse. They are used for transporting anything and everything. (750k)
Nicely Painted
Many of them are nicely painted. (823k)
Train Tracks Apparently Trains
Train tracks. Apparently trains don't run here frequently, if at all. (853k)


Sisal Cultivation Takes Huge
Sisal cultivation takes up huge amounts of land. In one area, the sisal plantation stretched for some 50 km (31 miles). This is the plant from which sisal is harvested. It is a kind of agave. The leaves are squashed and then the fiber removed from the pulp. Sisal is one of the export commodities of Madagascar. (931k)
Sisal Manufacturing Leaves Crushed
Sisal manufacturing. Here the leaves are crushed and the sisal fibers extracted. (813k)
Extracted Sisal Fibers
Extracted sisal fibers. (1051k)
Fibers Then Dried Sisal
The fibers are then dried. Sisal is used to weave sacks and ropes. (917k)
Sisal Drying
Sisal drying. (842k)
Bananas. (895k)
Tea Plantation We Watched
Tea plantation. We watched tea being fermented. It takes only a few minutes in a fermentation oven. Tea is another important export commodity. (1326k)
Fishing Important Source Food
Fishing is an important source of food it seems. (900k)
Fish Trap
Fish trap. (1364k)
Chickens Look Strange Longer
The chickens look strange. They have much longer legs and smaller bodies than what we are used to. (1286k)
Rice Staple Food Everybody
Rice is the staple food that everybody eats. Here it is planted in terraces. (1287k)
Rice Fields Plowed Watusi
Rice fields are plowed with Watusi cattle power. (1494k)
Rice Ready Harvested
Rice ready to be harvested. (1.6M)
Rice Harvested Hand Often
Rice is harvested by hand and often carried home by hand. (970k)
Rice Threshing Family Affair
Rice threshing is a family affair, even the youngest ones help. (1208k)
Winnowing Rice
Winnowing rice. (1079k)
Drying Corn
Drying corn. (1219k)
Papaya (Carica papaya)
Large Papaya tree (Carica papaya, german: Papaya, french: Papayer). (1084k)
Fish Important Drying Fish
Fish is important. Here they are drying fish on the roof of their house. (1148k)
Again Young Kids Help
Again the young kids help preparing food, here one is pounding manioc. (954k)
Pigs Well
Pigs were there as well. (998k)
Herding Cattle
Herding cattle. (1103k)
Deforestation Madagascar Frightening Because
The deforestation in Madagascar is frightening. Because of the deforestation, the top soil is eroding at an alarming rate. These deep erosion scars are everywhere. (913k)

Villages and Towns

Antananarivo Tana Short Capital
Antananarivo (Tana for short), the capital of Madagascar. Notice the rice paddies right next to the city. (1171k)
Mixture Modern Buildings Wooden
Mixture of modern buildings and wooden shacks in Tana. (944k)
Lake Tana Island
A lake in Tana with an island. (1096k)
Tana's Main Street
Tana's main street. (1014k)
Queens Palace Hill Over
Queens Palace on a hill over Tana. (979k)
Sapphire Mining Town Central
Sapphire mining town in central Madagascar. (769k)
Wooden House Tall Steep
Wooden house with tall, steep roof. (1007k)
Central Part Madagascar Houses
In the central part of Madagascar houses are built out of mud brick. They are mostly two-story houses. (1.5M)
Closer View Mud Brick
Closer view of the mud brick houses. (1092k)
Further South Spiny Forest
Further south, in the Spiny Forest, houses are made out of the wood of trees from the Spiny Forest. (1177k)
Dry Areas Central Southern
In the dry areas of the central and southern parts, houses are made of Adobe. (1122k)
Areas Houses Mainly Reed
In some areas, the houses are mainly reed and branches with thatched roofs. (1101k)
Wooden Houses Poor Conditions
Some of the wooden houses are in poor conditions. (994k)
Villages Look Very Idyllic
Other villages look very idyllic, even though closeup they are just as poor as most of Madagascar. (1093k)
Village Scene
Village scene. (982k)
Village House
Village house. (997k)
Upper Floors
This is how you get to the upper floors. (1029k)
Inside Local House
Inside a local house. (1187k)
Inside Local House
Inside a local house. (1025k)
Big Tomb Nicely Painted
A big tomb, nicely painted. (1005k)
Paintings Sometimes Real Scenes
The paintings are sometimes real scenes from the life of the deceased, sometimes they are fantasy figures. (1271k)
Tomb Paintings
Tomb with paintings. (1128k)
Tomb Paintings
Tomb with paintings. (1220k)
Areas Tombs Build Piles
In other areas the tombs are just build of piles of stones without decoration. (818k)
Area Dead Buried Unmarked
In this area the dead are buried in unmarked graves. The tombstones are erected near the village, not where the bodies are buried. (939k)
Area Madagascar Dead Buried
In this area of Madagascar the dead are buried at the bottom of a cliff. They stay there for 2-4 years. They are then exhumed with a big ceremony and feast, the bones are cleaned and reburied. (1103k)
Re-burial Done High Cliff
The re-burial is done high up on a cliff. (1432k)

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Main page for Repoblikan'i Madagasikara (Madagascar)

Page last updated on Mon Jul 13 19:38:26 2020 (Mountain Standard Time)

Madagascar - People on

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