1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tamatave

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TAMATAVE (called by the natives Tòamàsina), the chief seaport of Madagascar, situated nearly on the centre of the eastern coast in 18° 10' S., 49° 32' E. It owes its importance to the existence of a coral reef, which forms a spacious and fairly commodious harbour, entered by two openings. The town is built on a sandy peninsula which projects at right angles from the general coast-line. On this are crowded together a considerable number of houses, with good shops and merchants' offices in the main thoroughfares. Tamatave is the seat of several foreign consuls, as well as of numerous French officials, and is the chief port for the capital and the interior. Imports consist principally of piece-goods, farinaceous foods, and iron and steel goods, and exports of gold dust, raffia, hides, caoutchouc and live animals. Communication with Europe is maintained by steamers of the Messageries Maritimes and the Havraise companies, and also with Mauritius, and from thence to Ceylon, by the British Union-Castle line. Of the whole foreign trade of Madagascar, 46 per cent, is through Tamatave. Owing to the character of the soil and the formerly crowded native population, the town has often been attacked by epidemics: the plague broke out in 1898, and again in 1900; but since the draining of the neighbouring marshes, there has been improvement. Since 1895 the native population has been removed from the town and settled in a new village to the north-west. A telegraph, 180 miles in length, connects Tamatave with the capital. There is also a service, partly by railway and partly by steamer, along the coast lagoons, connecting the port with Antanànarìvo. Pop. about 4600.