The tribes or ethnic groups of Madagascar

The tribes or ethnic groups of Madagascar

Primarily, there are eighteen (18) ethnic groups in Madagascar. These ethnic groups or tribes are distributed unevenly in the territory of Madagascar. These different tribes each have their own dialects, cultures and customs. The tribes are gathered geographically on the same region.

  • Merina: accounting for nearly 26% of the total population, this is the largest group. “Those of the heights, or those of the highlands”; they reside in the central part of the island. They are the inhabitants of the regions of Analamanga, Vakinankaratra and Bongolava. We can also talk about Ambaniandro.
  • Betsileo: “those who are invincible”; They also reside in the central region but a little further south, Fianarantsoa and about (center-east) and they are reputed rice growers and wood craftsmen. These are the inhabitants of the regions of Amoron’i Mania and Haute Matsiatra.
  • Betsimisaraka: “those who do not separate”; One of the largest ethnic groups living along the eastern coast of the island, Betsimisaraka grow coffee, cloves and sugarcane. These are the inhabitants of the regions of Atsinana and Analanjirofo.
  • Antaisaka: Descending Sakalava but residing in the South East region – Atsimo Atsinanana Mainly Vangaindrano. “Those who come from the Sakalava”.
  • Antandroy: “those of the thorns” referring to the desert part of the large island, they live at the southern end of the island. Region of Androy.
  • Mahafaly: Near the Antandroy “those who make happy”, they are artisans weavers and sculptors. They inhabit the southern part of the Atsimo Andrefana Region.
  • Vezo: they are fishermen, between Morombe and Tuléar, historically it is the fishermen of East Africa settled to the south of the island. They live part of the Region Atsimo Andrefana.
  • Bara: of Bantu origin, they are often zebu breeders. They inhabit the region of Ihorombe and part of the Anosy. Mainly from Ihosy, Ivohibe, Midongy Atsimo and Ikalamavony
  • Antakarana: “those of the ankara: the cliff of ankarana”; They are in the northern part of the island they are fishermen and breeders (in the north). These are the inhabitants of the Diana and Sava regions.
  • Antemoro: “those of the littoral” are largely farmers. They knew how to develop astrology. Of Arab origin, they very early mastered the Sorbian. They inhabit the region of Manakara – Vatovavy Fitovinany
  • Antaifasy: “those who live in the sands”, They inhabit the east coast on the Region of Farafangana – Atsimo Atsinana. They are fishermen and breeders.
  • Antanosy: Living in southern Madagascar, mainly in the Anosy region. It is a small community. They are breeders, fishermen, hunters and farmers.
  • Antambahoaka: Close to the antemoro, it is a group of the South-East of Arab origin; They are from Mananjary, Nosy-varika – From the region of Vatovavy-Fitovinany. They are those who practice the ‘Sambatra’ that is a ritual festival of circumcision practice every seven years.
  • Tsimihety: “those who do not cut their hair”, they live in the northwestern part of Madagascar, in the regions of Betsiboka and Sofia, they are breeders and rice farmers.
  • Tanala: “those who live in the forest”, live near the cliffs of the East coast, in the forest – Fort Carnot – Vondrozo – Ifanadiana – Near Manakara and Mananjary – in the Vatovavy-Fitovinany region; They hold a great knowledge about medicinal plants.
  • Bezanozano: “those with many small tresses”, they are real foresters on the east coast of the island from Moramanga, Vohidiala – From the southern part of the Alaotra-Mangoro Region.
  • Sihanaka: “those who roam the marshes”, they live in the region of Lake Alaotra, they are farmers (northeast) – rice farmers. From the northern part of the Alaotra-Mangoro Region. Ambatondrazaka and its surroundings.

Among other things, there are also the Masikoro, the Makoa, the Comorians, the Indo-Pakistani Karana, the resident French or the Vazaha. These constitute the 19th community.


Visit Madagascar with us, Magma |Car Rental Madagascar ! Contact us