Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)


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Country  Madagascar
Area  21,930 km²
Capital  Ambovombe-Androy
Time zone  EAT (UTC3)
Population  753,832 (2014)
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Androy is the most southerly region of Madagascar. It covers an area of 19,540 km2, and had an estimated population of 733,933 inhabitants in 2013. The admninistrative capital is Ambovombe-Androy, and the chief administrator is Michael Andrianirina (since June 2016).


Map of Androy, Madagascar


Androy (literally "where the roy (Mimosa delicatula) is," but more commonly translated as "land of the thorny bush" or "spiny desert") is the most southern region of Madagascar. It is located south of the Tropic of Capricorn roughly between the Mandrare and Menarandra rivers (between these two are the Linta and the Manambovo rivers). It is 19,540 km2 and is bordered by the Mahafaly people to the west (Atsimo-Andrefana) the Antanosy to the east (Anosy) and the Bara people to the north (starting at about Isoanala).

Administrative divisions

Androy region is divided into four districts, which are sub-divided into 51 communes, which later are further sub-divided into 881 localities (fokontany).

  • Ambovombe-Androy District
  • Bekily District
  • Beloha-Androy District
  • Tsihombe District
  • Population

    In 2013 the estimated total population of Androy Region was 733,933 inhabitants, with a population growth rate of 2.7% (means population will double in 25 years if not reduced). The population is almost entirely Antandroy ("people of the thorny bush") or Karembola (in the southwest), with small numbers of Antanosy, Mahafaly, Merina and Betsileo who also live there. There are another estimated 150,000 Antandroy living in other parts of the island, many of them having moved due to recurring famine in the Androy region. In 2013 some 349,675 people - nlmost half of the total population of Androy - lived in the Ambovombe-Androy District, which has a population density of 60/km2. The strip along the southeast coast (which has been described by some as "the Tandroy Cradle"), is the most densely populated. Bekily District had about 164,751 inhabitants (32/km2), Beloha-Androy has about 109,361 (23/km2) and Tsihombe has about 110,147 (50/km2).


    The Androy region is semi- to sub-arid with an average rainfall of just 400 mm (15.7 in) (350 mm (13.8 in) along the southwestern coast to 700 mm (27.6 in) towards the north), which is unevenly distributed during the year (though there's generally more rain December through February). Other than the Mandrare river, most riverbeds are dry for much of the year and it has frequent droughts (generally every eight to ten years) which often lead to Kere (famine). Coupled with this are almost constant strong, drying winds, especially along the coast, known as "Tiokatimo." Water is in such short supply that it is delivered by truck to some people and sold by those who sell it from oxcarts to others. The periodic famines have caused somewhere between 15 and 30% of the Antandroy to have left Androy, having moved west to Toliary or to northern Madagascar.


    Due to inadequate water and a large population, Androy has become a region of chronic food insecurity and is one of the poorest regions in Madagascar. Due to this a variety of international organizations including the European Union, Groupe de Recherches et d'Echanges Technologiques (GRET), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), UNICEF, the World Food Programme are all working there. Most people are subsistence farmers (it's estimated that less than 5% of the land is farmed) growing cassava, maize, sweet potatoes, legumes, cowpeas, groundnuts, lentils, millet, sorghum and mangos (rice is not possible due to how arid Androy is). Cash crops include sisal (grown only in the lower Mandrare river region) and groundnuts (cotton production has declined). They also pastoralists who raise cattle, sheep, goats and chickens. Zebu are central to the religious and social life of the Antandroy. While they supply milk, meat and leather, they are also a very important determinant of the status and wealth of the Antandroy people. While Androy borders the ocean, there is minimal fishing, most for local consumption. Of the almost 20,000 km2, only 344 km2 are forested.

    Trades include silversmiths (generally part-time), tailors, cobblers and carpenters. Basketry is still practiced, but blacksmiths and those who dye cotton cloth, weave silk and make pottery have declined. Stores are mostly quite small, located in urban centers and are mostly owned by Indo-Pakistanis, Chinese and Malagasy from the highlands. There are also weekly markets where homegrown produce is sold and things like soap, cooking pots and other things can be purchased.


    Some argue the Antandroy are a "composite ethnicity" of many clans of diverse origins (including the Sakalava, Bara, Mahafaly and Antanosy) who arrived in migration "waves," settling in Androy only several centuries ago. There is also evidence of "pre-Antandroy" inhabitants from as far back as the 11th and 12th centuries. For a timeline of the history of Androy, see below.

    Additional Information






    Coal -

    Tsavorite - Initially found in Gogogo and more recently in Behara.





    [much of the below information from Mike Parker Pearson et al. See References below.]

    10th to 13th Centuries

    -possible evidence of human consumption of Aepyornis eggs near Talaky at the Manambovo rivermouth

    -Manda ("enclosure") Civilization, which arose in the 10th Century and fell in the 13th, had towns near Bekily and Bekitro, Andaro on a tributary of the Linta near Fotadrevo, east of Lanany river's junction with the Manambovo, west of Vohimena, north of Vohipary and at Bebajine. Based on archeological finds, several of these towns appear to have been involved in trade by sea with Zimbabwe, Mozambique and the Swahili Coast (sites of "pre-Tandroy" inhabitants identified by stone-and earth-walled enclosures).

    14th to 15th Centuries

    - population in Androy fell dramatically, as did imports, with most settlements located for defense of villagers (one of the largest at that time, Ampahijoloke, was defended on three sides by river cliffs).

    16th Century

    - Royal center of the Andriamanare (Zafimanara), Tandroy's royal clan/dynasty (who dominated Androy till the 18th century), at Ampotake. There were also royal centers located in Montefeno and Anjampanorora (25 km south of Ambaro).

    - beginning of expansion of the Antandroy kingdom

  • 1529 - July 28,East of False Cape,Manambovo River mouth. Landing of Raoul and Jean Parmentier (explorer),Captains of le Sacre and la Pensée ships.
  • 17th Century

    1648 - Etienne de Flacourt reaches the Mandrare river and carves two words on a stone: "Cave Incolas".

    1649 - Ancient royal settlement at Montefeno, ruled by King Andrianmififarivo, king of Ampatres, was visited by soldiers sent by Governor Étienne de Flacourt from Fort Dauphin).

    late 1600s - King Andrianjoma, who lived near Ambaro, became the founding ancestor of the Tekonda line of Andriamañare.

    18th Century

    early 1700s - Menarandra area of southwestern Androy annexed by Maroserana dynasty

    1703 - Shipwreck of the Degrave, an English East Indiaman, at Belitsaky (25 km from Ambovombe?). Robert Drury (sailor) visited the royal capital of Fenoarivo (Ambaro) shortly thereafter. His crew is massacred by the Antandroy and he is kept as a slave till 1709. [For more information see]

    - different clans from the east, north and northwest invaded Androy and put an end to the ruling dynasty of the Andriamañar

    - beginning of the development of what Mike Pearson et al. described as the "megalithic and monumental" Antandroy tombs

    1769 - Introduced in Fort Dauphin during a settlement French attempt,spiny prickly pear cactus Opuntia dillenii spreads throughout the Androy region.

    19th Century

    - Androy remained independent of the expanded Imerina Kingdom

    - further expansion of number of communities in Androy, especially near Faralambo where the Afomarolahy clan settled

    20th Century

    1901-1903 - French conquered Androy, though area remained in a State of Emergency due to continued Antandroy resistance to French rule

    1917 - State of Emergency in Androy ended.

    1924 - Introduction of a Cochineal insect Coccus cacti by Botanist H.Perrier de la Bâthie, in an attempt to ensure biological control of the invasive Opuntia dillenii cactus, called raketa gasy. Though cacti were beneficial - staple feed for human beings and cattle - it was getting difficult to save farmlands in order to grow crops.

    1928 - Henry de Heaulme arrives in Fort Dauphin, having driven down from Tananarive in a Harley Davidson motorcycle with his wife and son in the side car. His intent was to export mica from Anosy and sisal from Androy through Fort Dauphin. This family also gets involved in conservation efforts and later also gets into the tourism business.

    1928-29 - Destruction of Opuntia dillenii cactus by cochineal beetle (had been introduced near Toliary in 1925 and spread east, north and south at a rate of 100 km per year, leading to the death of somewhere between 10,000 and 100,000 cattle, turning the countryside gray and leading to extensive deforestation and emigration of Antandroy people.

    1930-31 - Deadly famine, exacerbated by destruction of prickly pear cactus Opuntia dillenii by cochineal beetle. This cactus, previously introduced in Fort Dauphin,spread over Anosy and Androy regions:it had provided protection to herders and their cattle as well as both fruit and water to people and cattle. Eminent damages on local species of Castor oil plant are also observed . This resulted in half the population of in the Tsihombe district decreasing by half, though the number of dead versus those who emigrated out of the area is unclear.

    1932 - Hosting the Opuntia cacti,a mite Dactylopius tomentosus is noticed.

    1936 - Drought. Also, the first sisal plantation near Amboasary is established by Établissements Gallois. Henri de Heaulme established his sisal plantation and the Berenty forest reserve.

    1937 - Hydrographic assignment of Aviso Bougainville in the South:to chart the exact positions of the two brothers capes-the "True" and the "False"-so called by the mariners.The true one -Southernmost point of Madagascar- is named Cape Saint Marie.Latitude 25°35'S.

    1940 - Vichy France takes over control of Madagascar.

    1943-44 - Up to half of those in Androy emigrated due to the severe famine. Another 15,000 died.

    1955 - Plantation on 4.000 ha of Opuntia stricta, a spineless cactus, is completed. Twenty thousand hectares planned in the so-called Raketa operation. The Opuntia with a red prickly pear fruit is called raketamena.

    1955-56 - In the Androy district, the indigenous production of food crops was : cassava 18.000t, corn 4.000t, grain sorghum 1.000t, beans 800t, groundnuts 700t .

    1956 - Drought.

    1956 - Amboliandro Atsimo (SW Tsiombe). Aermotor Company(USA) sets up a water pumping windmill - wheel diameter 6m - on a 15m high tower: it pumps out 10 cubic meters/hr water from a 45m deep well. Fifty units are foreseen, one every 10 km (6 mi).

    1957 - Erection of a 414m long steel bridge, designed by Anciens Ets Eiffel - Pont du Mandrare - insures the first all-year-long road link between the Androy and Anosy regions ( RIG 13 ). The Antandroy-so called Grand Pont is one of the last impressive steel bridges, built in the nineties, just before the technological move to the prestressed concrete works.

    1950s-60s - Boetchi (Swiss), de Heaulme and Jenny families and the Lyonnaise and Marseillaise companies exported wild beans of Castor oil plant (1220 tons in 1957), cattle (10-30,000/year), mica and sisal, much of it from Androy.

    1958 - Monja Jaona formed the Madagasikara Otronin'ny Malagasy (MO.NI.MA.)--Madagascar for the Malagasy—party which he led till his death. This became a significant regional party which represented both radical intellectuals and peasants from the south (especially Androy).

    1960 - Madagascar declared its independence from France.

    1971 - Monja Jaona claimed authorship of April armed insurrection by impoverished peasants in Androy who were upset by the corruption of government tax collectors at a time when their cattle herds were being ravaged by disease. There were also frustrations due to the failure of the government to provide disaster relief in response to a serious drought which was followed by floods. On April 1–2 more than 1,000 armed members of the MO.NI.MA. attacked 5 military posts in the Tulear province, resulting in 1 of the security forces killed and 11 wounded. This was quickly and harshly suppressed by the government, with 45 of the MONI.MA. killed, 9 wounded and 847 held for questioning. Monja Jaona and hundreds of MO.NI.MA. members were arrested and sent by cargo ship from Fort Dauphin to Nosy Lava where they were imprisoned.

    1972 - Monja Jaona and the MO.NI.MA. party, which had become a left-wing opposition movement, gained the support of Tananarive's university students and urban radicals who, though MO.NI.MA. was banned by the government, led demonstrations against President Tsiranana until his fall May 1972.

    1991-92 - Major famine in Androy with major responses by UNICEF and the World Food Program and also by Catholic and Malagasy Lutheran churches.

    2003 - Famine in Androy

    2006-07 - Famine in Androy

    2011 - Major famine in Androy


    Androy Wikipedia