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Country Guides for Africa

Madagascar

Madagascar A cornucopia of biological diversity, Madagascar is home to more than 250,000 species, 70% of them endemic to this unique island nation. A seething mass of quirky creatures, it is believed the island separated from the African mainland over 160 million years ago, secluding it from the rest of the world and becoming a living laboratory of evolution. Indigenous species include lemurs, chameleons, baobab species, carnivorous fossa, ( related to a mongoose, it looks like a cross between a puma and dog), abundant amphibians, reptiles, insects and bird life as well as the Angonoka tortoise, the world's most endangered. UNESCO has recently designated several parks with a natural heritage site status, and the government is embracing the philosophy of responsible development to manage this unique biodiversity.

Language: French (official), Malagasy (official)

Major International Airports:

City

Airport
Airport
Code
Distance
From City
AntananarivoAntananarivo-Ivato AirportTNR10 miles NW

Food and waterborne diseases are the number one cause of illness in travelers. Travelers’ diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout the region and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (Typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.

Malaria is a serious, but preventable infection that can be fatal. Your risk of malaria may be high in these countries, including cities. Prevent this deadly disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites. Most travelers to East Africa, including infants, children, and former residents of East Africa, are at risk for malaria. All travelers at risk for malaria should take one of the following drugs (listed alphabetically): atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, mefloquine, or primaquine (in special circumstances).

A certificate of yellow fever vaccine may be required for entry into certain of these countries. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements. Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.

Dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), and Rift Valley fever are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Protecting yourself against insect bites will help to prevent these diseases.

Schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection, is found in fresh water in the region, including Lake Malawi. Do not swim in fresh water (except in well-chlorinated swimming pools) in these countries.

Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid nighttime travel if possible and always use seat belts.

CDC recommends the following vaccines (as appropriate for age):

See your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
  • Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months, or be exposed through medical treatment.
  • Meningococcal (meningitis) vaccine, if you plan to visit the western half of Ethiopia from December through June.
  • Rabies, if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals through your work or recreation.
  • Typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region.
  • Yellow fever, if you travel anywhere outside urban areas.
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles, and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11–12 years who did not receive the series as infants.

To stay healthy, do...

  • Wash hands often with soap and water.
  • Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, make water safer by BOTH filtering through an “absolute 1-micron or less” filter AND adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. “Absolute 1-micron filter” are found in camping/outdoor supply stores.
  • Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
  • If you travel to an area where there is risk for malaria, take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your doctor for a prescription.)
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites:
    • Pay special attention to mosquito protection between dusk and dawn. This is when the type of mosquito whose bite transmits malaria is active.
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
    • Use insect repellents that contain DEET (diethylmethyltoluamide).
    • Read and follow the directions and precautions on the product label.
    • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin.
    • Do not put repellent on wounds or broken skin.
    • Do not breathe in, swallow, or get into the eyes (DEET is toxic if swallowed). If using a spray product, apply DEET to your face by spraying your hands and rubbing the product carefully over the face, avoiding eyes and mouth.
    • Unless you are staying in air-conditioned or well-screened housing, purchase a bed net impregnated with the insecticide permethrin or deltamethrin. Or, spray the bed net with one of these insecticides if you are unable to find a pretreated bed net.
    • DEET may be used on adults, children, and infants older than 2 months of age. Protect infants by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit.
    • Children under 10 years old should not apply insect repellent themselves. Do not apply to young children’s hands or around eyes and mouth.
  • To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot.
  • Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.


  • Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Travelers to Madagascar are at risk from malaria and filariasis transmitted by mosquito bites, and plague from flea bites. Travelers should use topical insect repellent and wear insecticide-treated clothing.

Download Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by CountryDownload Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by Country

The water supply in Madagascar is grossly contaminated with viruses, bacteria and protozoa. Travelers should treat water before drinking to avoid potentially serious health problems.

Download Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by CountryDownload Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by Country

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Madagascar completed a transition to a multi-party democracy in 1993 and held an orderly presidential election in 1996. The disputed 2001 presidential election resulted in numerous, large demonstrations and scattered violence. President Marc Ravalomanana consolidated his position in mid-2002, and calm has returned to Madagascar. Legislative elections were held in December 2002 without violence. Municipal elections held in November 2003 were mostly uneventful, although some small-scale disturbances occurred in the western port city of Mahajanga. Travelers should maintain security awareness at all times and should avoid political gatherings and street demonstrations.

Taking photographs of airports or military installations is prohibited.

CRIME: The major concerns for visitors to Antananarivo are crimes of opportunity such as pick-pocketing and purse snatching, and theft from residences and vehicles. Although these are generally non-violent, incidents involving violence by assailants, particularly when the victim resists, do take place especially, when the victim is confronted by multiple persons. To reduce the risk of being victimized, travel in groups and avoid wearing expensive jewelry in public. Valuable items should never be left in an unattended vehicle. Walking at night, whether alone or in a group, is not considered safe in urban areas, including in the vicinity of Western-standard hotels. Organized gangs of bandits are known to patrol areas where foreigners who are perceived to be wealthy congregate. Although crimes such as burglary do occur in areas outside the capital, the threat of confrontational crime is less common in rural areas.

In May 1999, there was a series of robberies at Libanona Beach and Peak Saint Louis, in the Fort Dauphin area, perpetrated by a person representing himself as a guide. U.S. citizens should hire only an authorized guide and be cautious when visiting Libanona Beach, Peak Saint Louis, or other isolated areas.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad provides useful information on protecting personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region in general. Pamphlets are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.



Source: U.S. Department of State

There are two main seasons in Madagascar - the cool, dry season from May to October, and the hot, rainy season from November to April, although some precipitation can be expected year round in most regions. The east coast has a tropical climate, receiving the heaviest rainfall (and the occasional cyclone). The central highlands are cooler and dryer, with (sometimes dangerous) thunderstorms during the rainy season, the west coast is dryer still, and the south and southwest are semi-arid.


City
Annual
Precip. Days
Annual
Precip. Totals
Antananarivo13654"
Antsiranana130/TD>47"
Mahajanga9258"
Toamasina255133"
Toliara4817"

Madagascar's electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Please note: Not all electrical sockets in these countries provide grounding. Many North American appliances are designed to operate only within the 100-125 volt range. These appliances will suffer damage if plugged into 220-250 volts without the proper transformer or converter.

To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.

For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.

Download Magellan's Guide to World Electrical ConnectionsDownload Magellan's Guide to World Electrical Connections

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required. Visas should be obtained in advance, although airport visas are available in Antananarivo, the only city with a major international airport. Limited international flights to/from nearby islands of Comoros, Mayotte and Reunion fly from airports in Mahajanga, Toamasina, Nosy Be and Antsiranana. Travelers who opt to obtain an airport visa should expect delays upon arrival. Evidence of yellow fever immunization is required for all travelers who have been in an infected zone within 6 months of their arrival in Madagascar.

Travelers may obtain the latest information and details on entry requirements from the Embassy of the Republic of Madagascar, 2374 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008; telephone (202) 265-5525/6; website http://www.embassy.org/madagascar; or the Malagasy Consulate in New York City, (212) 986-9491. Honorary consuls are located in Philadelphia, San Diego, and Houston. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Malagasy embassy or consulate.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child’s travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.



Source: U.S. Department of State

The time zone for Madagascar is 3 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Madagascar would be 8:00 pm

The unit of currency in Madagascar is the Malagasy franc (MGF).

Look up the current exchange rate using XE.com's Universal Currency Converter

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