|Pousse-pousses in central Antsirabe|
|District||Antsirabe I District|
|Elevation||1,500 m (4,900 ft)|
|Population (2005)182 804|
Antsirabe (Malagasy [anˌtsiraˈbe]) is the third largest city in Madagascar and the capital of the Vakinankaratra region, with a population of over 180,000. In Madagascar, Antsirabe is known for its relatively cool climate, its industry and the high concentration of pulled rickshaws or pousse-pousses (in French), amongst other things.
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.
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.
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.
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), ensuring a relatively cool climate. 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.
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". 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.
The population of Antsirabe exceeds 180.000. It was estimated to 186.253 in 2001 and to 182.804 in 2005.
An Export Processing Zone is located in Antsirabe and the town is the home several factories, including Star Brasseries (beverages), Cotona (textiles) and Kobama (grain).
As in Antananarivo, international economic sanctions following the 2009 uprising and following political crisis led to an economic downturn and factory lay-offs in Antsirabe. The removal of Madagascar from the list of beneficiaries of the African Growth and Opportunity Act was particularly important in this regard.
Several buildings in central Antsirabe date back to the first decades of the 20th century. These include the thermal bath centre (opened in 1917), Hôtel des Thermes (1922), the railway station (1923), and the recidence for French retirees (1934).
Other sights are la Stèle de l'Indépendance (the Stele of Independence) on Independence Avenue and the two public markets: Antsenakely ("The Small Market") and the bigger Asabotsy.
The nearby volcanic lake Tritriva is a popular tourist attraction.
Since April 2012, the city is governed by a "Special Delegation" with three members: Razafindrainiony Lala Marie Béryl, the previous Head of Antsirabe I District is President of the Special Delegation while Randrianarison Olivier from the TIM party and Rakotomalala Olivier from the AS party are First and Second Deputy Presidents, respectively.
Between November 2011 and April 2012 the position of the Mayor of Antsirabe was vacant. Olga Ramalason of the TIM party was Mayor until she was appointed Minister of Commerce in Omer Beriziky's government of consensus in November 2011.
The city council was elected in November 2003.
The city is at the end of the TA (Tananarive-Antsirabe) railway line, part of the Network North railway, which links Antsirabe to the capital and the port city of Toamasina. The line is operated by Madarail, currently only with freight trains. The line has been extended southwards through Vinaninkarena, but this extension is not in use.
Within the city public transport consists of small buses and numerous pousse-pousses, as well as cycle rickshaws ("cyclo-pousses"), auto rickshaws ("touktouks") and private taxis. The pousse-pousse is something of an emblem of the city; 5600 of them were recorded in 2006.
Antsirabe is twinned with:
- Olga Ramalason, mayor of Antsirabe (TIM) until November 2011 when she became Minister of Commerce.
- Mohammed V of Morocco and his son, the later Hassan II, lived in exile at Hôtel des Thermes in Antsirabe in 1955.
- "Votre voyage à Antsirabe à Madagascar [Your trip to Antsirabe in Madagascar]". MTTC (French). Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- Misy Info. "Site communautaire d'information touristique: Un peu d'histoire". Retrieved December 23, 2011.
- yr.no. "Weather statistics for Antsirabe, Antananarivo (Madagascar)". Retrieved January 2, 2012.
- "Ankaratra Field". Global Volcanism Program. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
- Cornell University. "The Commune Census of by the Ilo program of Cornell University in collaboration with FOFIFA and INSTAT".
- "Antsirabe: Un administrateur civil à la tête de la mairie". L'Express de Madagascar (French). 13 April 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- Misy Info. "Site communautaire d'information touristique: Venir à Antsirabe". Retrieved January 2, 2012.
- Misy Info. "Site communautaire d'information touristique: Les Pousse-pousse". Retrieved January 2, 2012.
- « Madagascar: Antsirabe coopère avec Stavanger », lexpressmada.com via allafrica.com, 20 July 2010
- Municipality of Vacoas / Phoenix. "Salient Features of the Town". Retrieved May 28, 2012.
- « Montluçon, les villes jumelles se font une place sur les panneaux », lamontagne.fr, 28 October 2010
- « Antsirabe... Sous le signe de la féminité ... », madagate.com, 6 August 2008