Antananarivo tänänärēvˈ [key], city (2021 metro. area pop. 3,531,887), capital of Madagascar. Antananarivo is Madagascar's largest city and is its administrative, communications, and economic center. It is the trade center for a productive agricultural region, whose main crop is rice. Railroads connect Antananarivo with Toamasina, the country's chief port, and Antsirabe. Its manufactures include food products (especially meat), beverages, cigarettes, and textiles. Antananarivo was founded c.1625 as a walled citadel. In 1797 it was made the fixed residence of the Merina rulers. The conquests of the Merina king Radama I (reigned 1810–28) made Antananarivo the capital of almost all Madagascar. The city was captured by the French in 1895 and incorporated into their Madagascar protectorate. The city is built on the slopes of a ridge that rises to c.4,700 ft (1,430 m). At the top of the ridge is the former Merina royal residence (destroyed by by fire in 1995); below, in descending order, are the administrative and financial areas and the commercial quarter. The Univ. of Madagascar (1961) and the Collège Rural d'Ambatobe are there as well as a Pasteur Institute and an astronomical observatory.

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