List of World Heritage Sites in Madagascar

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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites are places of importance to cultural or natural heritage as described in the 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention.[2] The sites of natural and cultural heritage in Madagascar became eligible for inclusion on the list when that state ratified the convention on July 19, 1983.[1]

The first site in Madagascar, the Strict Nature Reserve of the Tsingy of Bemaraha, was inscribed on the list as a site of natural importance at the 14th Session of the World Heritage Committee, held in Banff, Canada in 1990.[3] This was followed by the 2001 inscription of the Royal Hill of Ambohimanga, a historic village and royal palace compound of cultural importance featuring well-preserved 19th-century palaces and numerous other natural and architectural features of historic, political and spiritual significance to the Malagasy people. Most recently, in 2007 the natural site of the Rainforests of the Atsinanana was added to the list, comprising a cluster of six national parks distinguished by their highly endemic biodiversity.[1] A fourth site, the capital of the 19th century Merina sovereigns of Madagascar at the Rova of Antananarivo, had originally been slated to become the nation's first cultural World Heritage Site in 1995 but was destroyed by a fire shortly before the inscription was finalized.[4]

In addition to Madagascar's three established sites, a further seven sites are listed as tentative and are under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for elevation to official status. Five initial sites were inscribed on the tentative list in 1997: the Betafo Riziculture and Hydraulic Landscape, the Royal Compound of Tsinjoarivo), the Mahafaly Country of Southwestern Madagascar, the Cliff and Caves of Isandra, and Antongona. In 2008, two additional sites were added to the list: Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve (an extension of the Rainforests of the Atsinanana) and the Dry Forests of the Andrefana.[1]

UNESCO placed the Rainforests of the Atsinanana on the list of World Heritage in Danger on July 30, 2010 following an increase in illegal logging in the parks since 2009 as a consequence of the 2009-2013 political crisis in Madagascar.[5]

World Heritage Sites[edit]

In the following table, the UNESCO data includes the site's reference number and the criteria it was listed under: criteria i through vi are cultural, whereas vii through x are natural.

  dagger Site listed as "in danger"
Site Image Location (Region) Year listed UNESCO data Description
Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve Tsingy Melaky 1990 494; vii, x (natural) At the Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve, gradual erosion has produced vast fields of karst limestone spires known locally as tsingy. This singular landscape is interspersed with dry forests, lakes and mangrove swamps inhabited by numerous endemic and threatened lemur and bird species.[6]
Royal Hill of Ambohimanga Ambohimanga Analamanga 2001 950; iii, iv, vi (cultural) The Royal Hill of Ambohimanga in the central highlands has been a spiritual and political center for the Merina people since at least the 16th century. Home to numerous kings (including Andrianampoinimerina, who undertook the ultimately successful initiative to unite the island of Madagascar under a single ruler[7]) and designated site of many sacred royal rituals, the hill and the village that crowns it remain sites of pilgrimage to this day.[8]
Rainforests of the Atsinananadagger Marojejy National Park Sava, Analanjirofo, Haute Matsiatra, Vatovavy-Fitovinany, Ihorombe, Anosy 2007 1257; ix,x (natural) The six national parks that make up the Rainforests of the Atsinanana host a wide array of the distinctive flora and fauna endemic to Madagascar's rainforest ecosystems. The plant and animal life in these parks are threatened as the demands of a growing human population hasten deforestation and the fragmentation of remaining forests.[9]

This site was inscribed on the list of World Heritage in Danger in 2010 due to an increase in illegal logging in the parks following the 2009 coup d'état.[10]

Tentative list[edit]

In addition to the sites inscribed on the World Heritage list, member states can maintain a list of tentative sites that they may consider for nomination. Nominations for the World Heritage list are only accepted if the site was previously listed on the tentative list.[11] As of 2017, Madagascar recorded eight sites on its tentative list.[12]

Site Image Location Year listed UNESCO criteria Description
Betafo Rice Cultivation and Hydraulic Landscape (Paysage culturel rizicole et hydraulique de Betafo) Betafo Vakinankaratra 1997 947; iii, iv, v The landscape surrounding Betafo, capital of one of four ancient kingdoms of the Betsileo people, exemplifies the traditional terraced rice paddies and irrigation systems that emerged in this part of the southern Highlands in the 17th century.[13]
Royal Compound of Tsinjoarivo (Site et Rova de Tsinjoarivo) Tsinjoarivo Vakinankaratra 1997 948; iii, vi The Rova of Tsinjoarivo, a collection of five wooden and rammed earth summer palaces built by Merina Queen Ranavalona I in 1834, offers a well-preserved example of traditional architectural norms among the Highland andriana (noble class). Several monarchs of the island lodged at the site, including Ranavalona I (1840, 1842, 1856), Ranavalona II (1880, 1882) and Ranavalona III (1890).[14]
Mahafaly country of Southwestern Madagascar (Sud-Ouest Malgache, Pays Mahafaly) Mahafaly tomb Atsimo-Andrefana 1997 949; not provided The south-west of Madagascar is inhabited by the Mahafaly people, who farm and herd their zebu within the arid ecosystem of the spiny forests, a semi-desert landscape of endemic succulents which include all plants of the family Didiereaceae. The Mahafaly are famed for such funerary art as highly ornate stone tombs and carved wooden grave posts (aloalo), which have become emblematic of the island of Madagascar.[15]
Cliff and Caves of Isandra (Falaise et grottes de l'Isandra) Isandra Haute Matsiatra 1997 950; iii, iv, v The steep granite cliff of Isandra which rises abruptly from the surrounding rice fields is the product of differentiated erosion that has perforated the surface of the cliff with numerous caves. Some of these caverns were incorporated into a fortified village inhabited in the 17th and 18th centuries, while others were (and continue to be) utilized to entomb the dead.[16]
Antongona Antongona Itasy 1997 951; iii, iv, v Beginning in the 16th century, two granite outcroppings at Antongona were fortified with defensive trenches, stone walls and gateways to protect the royal wooden lodgings at their peaks. In the 1980s, the Ministry of Culture reconstructed two of the site's original wooden buildings and opened them to the public as a museum.[17]
Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve: Extension of the Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Réserve Spéciale d’Anjanaharibe-Sud) Anjanaharibe-Sud Sava 2008 5313; ix, x Anjanaharibe-Sud lies east of Marojejy National Park, one of six parks constituting the Rainforests of the Atsinanana World Heritage Site. Numerous endemic plant species are found in Anjanaharibe-Sud, and the forest corridor of Betaolana connects the park to Marojejy, ensuring the wildlife of both parks access to greater territorial range.[18]
Dry Forests of the Andrefana (Les forêts sèches de l’Andrefana) Dry Forests of the Andrefana Diana, Boeny, Anosy, Atsimo-Andrefana, Androy, Sava, Melaky 2008 5314; ix, x The Dry Forests of the Andrefana comprise seven protected natural areas: Ankarana Reserve, Ankarafantsika National Park, Andohahela National Park (parcel II), Tsimanampetsotse National Park, Analamerana Reserve, Manambolomaty-Tsimembo and a new reserve planned near Daraina. In contrast with the Rainforests of the Antsinanana, the parks included in the Dry Forests of the Andrefana are each located within semi-arid ecoregions and feature an entirely distinct set of highly biodiverse and endemic wildlife.[19]
Upper Town of Antananarivo (La Haute Ville d’Antananarivo) Upper Town of Antananarivo Analamanga 2016 6078; ii, v, vi The Upper Town of Antananarivo is an urban site of exceptional quality that has no equivalent in sub-Saharan Africa. The mix of typically Malagasy architectural elements and elements from the colonial presence has shaped a unique architecture of high quality that is still sufficiently well preserved. The site is not only characterized by its architecture, but also by a specific urban form in which the elements of the landscape play an important role and contribute to the creation of a coherent urban ensemble of high heritage quality.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "World Heritage Convention: Madagascar". United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved April 25, 2011.
  2. ^ "The World Heritage Convention". UNESCO. Retrieved September 17, 2010.
  3. ^ "Report of the World Heritage Committee, 14th Session". UNESCO. Retrieved June 1, 2011.
  4. ^ Commission of the European Communities (March–April 1996). The ACP-EU Courier. 20 (156). {{cite journal}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ "World Heritage Committee inscribes Rainforests of Atsinanana (Madagascar) on List of World Heritage in Danger". UNESCO. Archived from the original on January 17, 2011. Retrieved April 25, 2011.
  6. ^ "Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve". UNESCO. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
  7. ^ Bradt, Hilary (2011). Madagascar (10th ed.). Guilford, Connecticut: The Globe Pequot Press Inc. p. 165. ISBN 978-1-84162-341-2.
  8. ^ "Royal Hill of Ambohimanga". UNESCO. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
  9. ^ "Rainforests of the Atsinanana". UNESCO. Archived from the original on September 3, 2011. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
  10. ^ "Investigation into the illegal felling, transport and export of precious wood in SAVA region Madagascar" (PDF). Global Witness, Environmental Investigation Agency. August 2009. p. 2. Retrieved January 30, 2010.
  11. ^ "UNESCO World Heritage Centre Tentative Lists". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. October 25, 2015.
  12. ^ "UNESCO World Heritage Centre Tentative Lists". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. December 17, 2019.
  13. ^ "Paysage culturel rizicole et hydraulique de Betafo" [Rizicultural and hydraulic cultural landscape of Betafo] (in French). UNESCO. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  14. ^ "Site et Rova de Tsinjoarivo" [Site and Rova of Tsinjoarivo] (in French). UNESCO. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  15. ^ "Sud-Ouest Malgache, Pays Mahafaly" [Malagasy southwest, Mahafaly country] (in French). UNESCO. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  16. ^ "Falaise et grottes de l'Isandra" [Cliffs and caves of Isandra] (in French). UNESCO. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  17. ^ "Antongona" (in French). UNESCO. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  18. ^ "Réserve Spéciale d'Anjanaharibe-Sud (extension des forêts humides de l'Atsinanana)" [Special Reserve of Anjanaharibe-Sud (extension of the Rainforests of the Atsinanana)] (in French). UNESCO. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  19. ^ "Les forêts sèches de l'Andrefana" [Dry Forests of the Andrefana] (in French). UNESCO. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  20. ^ "La Haute Ville d'Antananarivo" [Upper Town of Antananarivo] (in French). UNESCO. Retrieved November 28, 2017.

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