Antananarivo (/ˌæntəˌnænəˈriːvoʊ/ or /ˌɑːntəˌnɑːnəˈriːvoʊ/; Malagasy pronunciation: [antananaˈrivʷ]), then temporarily French Tananarive (/təˌnænəˈriːv/ or /ˌtænənəˈriːv/; French pronunciation: [tananaʁiv]), also known by its French colonial shorthand form Tana, is the capital and largest city in Madagascar. The larger urban area surrounding the city, known as Antananarivo-Renivohitra ("Antananarivo-Mother Hill" or "Antananarivo-Capital"), is the capital of Analamanga region. The city is located 1,280 m (4,199 ft) above the sea level in the center of the island, and has been the island's largest population center since at least the 18th century. Antananarivo was historically the capital of the Merina people, who continue to form the majority of the city's estimated 1,300,000 (2013) inhabitants, as well as the surrounding urban areas which in all have a total metropolitan population approaching three million. All 18 Malagasy ethnic groups, as well as residents of Chinese, Indian, European and other origins, are well represented in the city. Antananarivo is the political, economic, educational and cultural heart of Madagascar. The Presidency, National Assembly, Senate and Supreme Court are located here, as are 21 diplomatic missions and the headquarters of many national and international businesses and NGOs. Antananarivo also hosts the largest number of universities, nightclubs, art venues, medical services and other social service institutions of any city on the island. Several national and local sports teams, including the championship-winning national rugby team, the Makis, and several basketball and football teams, are based in Antananarivo. Antananarivo was founded from about 1610 to 1625, when the Merina king Andrianjaka (1612–1630) expelled the Vazimba inhabitants of the village of Analamanga at the highest meeting point of two forested ridges rising above the surrounding highland plains. Declaring it the site of his capital, Andrianjaka built a rova (fortified royal dwelling) that expanded to become the royal palaces of the Kingdom of Imerina. According to oral history, he deployed a garrison of 1,000 soldiers to capture and guard the site; the hill and its city retained the name Analamanga until the reign of King Andriamasinavalona (1675–1710), who renamed it Antananarivo ("City of the Thousand") in honor of Andrianjaka's soldiers. The city served as the capital of the Kingdom of Imerina from its founding until 1710, when Imerina split into four warring quadrants. Antananarivo was declared the capital of the southern quadrant; it remained thus until King Andrianampoinimerina of Ambohimanga captured the province and restored its role as capital of a united Kingdom of Imerina in 1794. His diplomatic and military successes extended Imerina far beyond its traditional borders, bringing the lands of neighboring ethnic groups under Merina control. These conquests were continued under his son, Radama I, whose control ultimately extended over two thirds of the island, leading him to be considered the King of Madagascar by European diplomats, with Antananarivo as the island's capital. Antananarivo remained the island's capital after Madagascar was colonized by the French in 1897 and remained thus after independence in 1960. The French killed off many of the original inhabitants of the island and made French the native language. Antananarivo has expanded gradually from the royal palaces at its center, which dominate every view from their location at the peak of a curving ridge 200 m (660 ft) above the surrounding Betsimitatatra plains. In the 17th century, the plains were transformed into paddy fields to meet the population's need for rice; they were covered with housing developments as the city's population grew rapidly in the 20th century. Around the palaces, which were destroyed in a 1995 fire but have since been partially reconstructed, lies the historic district that was formerly populated by members of the andriana (noble class); many of their homes are preserved. The Analakely valley at the base of the ridge was the site of a Friday market established in the 18th century that, until being discontinued in 1997 due to traffic congestion, was considered the largest open air market in the world. This neighborhood was further developed under French rule and continues to serve as the capital's economic heart. The city is managed by the Commune Urbaine d'Antananarivo (CUA) under the direction of its President of the Special Delegation, Ny Havana Andriamanjato, appointed in March 2014. Limited funds and mismanagement have hampered consecutive CUA efforts to manage overcrowding and traffic, waste management, pollution, security, public water and electricity, and other challenges linked to explosive population growth. Major historic landmarks and attractions in the city include the reconstructed royal palaces and the Andafiavaratra Palace, the tomb of Rainiharo, Tsimbazaza Zoo, Mahamasina Stadium, Lake Anosy, four 19th-century martyr cathedrals, and the Museum of Art and Archaeology. Wikipedia
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