Travel Consideration: Madagascar

Contributed By RealAdventures

Madagascar is a developing island nation off the east coast of Africa. Facilities for tourism are available, but vary in quality.

A passport and visa are required. Visas should be obtained in advance, although airport visas are available in Antananarivo, the capital. Travelers who opt to obtain an airport visa should expect delays upon arrival. There is an airport departure tax.

Travelers may obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Madagascar, 2374 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 265-5525/6, or the Malagasy Consulate in New York City, (212) 986-9491. Honorary consuls are located in Philadelphia, PA and Palo Alto, CA. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Malagasy Embassy or Consulate.

Madagascar completed a transition to a multi-party democracy in 1993 and held an orderly presidential election in 1996. Travelers should nonetheless avoid political gatherings and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times. Do not photograph airports or military installations.

In late 1998, Fort Dauphin, in southern Madagascar, was the site of two incidents of rioting directed against the resident Indo-Pakistani community. The riots were triggered by perceived slights made by an Indo-Pakistani shopkeeper against an ethnic Malagasy. U.S. citizens should avoid crowds and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.

The major concerns for visitors to Antananarivo are street crime, as well as theft from residences and vehicles. Walking at night, whether alone or in a group, is not considered safe in urban areas, including in the vicinity of Western-standard hotels. Wearing expensive jewelry, or carrying other expensive items while on foot or using public transportation, is strongly discouraged. Valuable items should never be left in an unattended vehicle. Although crimes, such as burglary, do occur in areas outside the capital, the threat of confrontational crime is less common in rural areas. Night travel in private or public conveyances outside Antananarivo is discouraged due to poor lighting and road conditions.

In May 1999, there were a series of robberies at Libanona Beach and Peak Saint Louis, in the Fort Dauphin area, perpetrated by a person representing themselves as a “guide”. U.S. citizens should hire only an authorized guide and be cautious when visiting the 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 pamphlets A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa provide useful information on protecting personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region in general. Both are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at

There are several competent foreign physicians in Antananarivo, representing a broad range of specialties. The hospital infrastructure, however, is minimal and does not meet basic sanitary norms. A Seventh Day Adventist Dental Clinic offers emergency procedures and is up to U.S. standards in both standard procedures and cleanliness. There are also competent laboratory and X-ray facilities. Most medications are available on the local market and are mainly of French origin. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide for payment of medical services outside the United States.

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Madagascar is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor to Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

Except for Antananarivo's main streets and a few well-maintained routes to outlying cities, most roads are in disrepair. Public transportation is unreliable and vehicles are poorly maintained. Few pedestrian crosswalks or working traffic signals exist. Rail services are very limited and undependable. However, arrangements can be made for a private train to travel to certain destinations.

DRUG PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Madagascar law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Madagascar are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo, and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Madagascar. The U.S. Embassy is located at 14 and 16 Rue Rainitovo, Antsahavola, Antananarivo. The mailing address is B.P. 620, Antsahavola, Antananarivo, Madagascar. The telephone number is (261-20) 22-212-57; the fax number is (261-20) 22-345-39.

As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and Madagascar, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Madagascar’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Madagascar’s air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet home page at The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at 618-229-4801.

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