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Moramanga serves as the capital of one of the eighteen districts within the Toamasina province, which is among the largest (7,424 km²) yet moderately populated due to its extensive forest coverage. The town is nestled in a valley where the constant humidity, stemming from the proximity to the Mangoro river, has encouraged the growth of flora and fauna. Despite significant depletion from deforestation, these natural resources still exhibit a high level of endemism.

The industrial cultivation of pine and eucalyptus trees, gradually encroaching upon the humid forests, stands as one of the primary sources of income for Moramanga.

The Town

Moramanga is primarily a hub, a transit point located at the intersection of two roads: one connecting the northern regions to the south of the Toamasina province, and the other linking the eastern coast to the capital. The main hotels and restaurants are situated along the RN2, while a series of small eateries offering local specialties, paired with Alaotra’s finest rice, line the street from the train station to the market. These specialties include frog legs in batter (radaka) and crayfish (orana) sautéed in butter and garlic.

The market, depending on the season, offers fruits from the interior (strawberries, apples, peaches) and those from the coastal areas (bananas, mangoes, lychees), as well as basketry.

Moramanga and the 1947 Uprising

Along with several towns on the east coast (Manankara, Farafangana, Vatomandry, and Ambila), Moramanga was a key centre of the insurgent movement of 1947, as commemorated by the mausoleum at the town’s western entrance. On the night of Saturday, March 29, to Sunday, March 30, 1947, two thousand rebels stormed Camp Tristani, slaughtering gendarmes and soldiers to seize their weapons before targeting settlers and administrative officials.

In retaliation, colonial troops ravaged the town and executed insurgents, who were trapped in cattle cars, with machine guns. Local elected officials also erected a significant monument in the town’s popular quarter near the train station, where youths gather in the evenings to play guitar.

National Gendarmerie Museum

Camp Tristani now houses a barracks and a national gendarmerie school, proud of its small museum. The museum chronicles the evolution of the “native guard” into the zandarimeriam-pirenena, showcasing its uniforms, armaments, and investigative equipment. Various exhibits – amulets, intimidating masks, and locally made firearms – highlight the ingenuity of cattle thieves.

Annual statistics on the number of cattle stolen and the outcomes of operations conducted by the Gendarmerie are also displayed. Outside the building, old vehicles illustrate the history of Malagasy transport.

The Micheline

This colonial-era Micheline, fully refurbished, operates on the Antananarivo–Toamasina (Tamatave) line twice a week, stopping whenever the scenery merits, allowing groups of around twenty tourists to experience a taste of yesteryear. It connects Fianarantsoa to Sahambavy.

Orchid Competition

Each summer, Moramanga hosts an orchid competition, featuring stunning rare specimens (some valued at several million Ariary) competing alongside more common species.

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