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Map of Toliara Province showing the location of Tôlanaro (red).
Country Madagascar
Region Anosy

Tôlanaro or Tolagnaro is a city (commune urbaine) in Madagascar. It is the capital of the Anosy region, of the Tôlanaro district, and is in the former Toliara Province. It has a port of local importance, and a new port has been built at Ehoala. Formerly Fort Dauphin, it was the most durable French settlement in Madagascar.



The city is situated next to and on a short, narrow peninsula on the southeastern edge of Madagascar. (Additional information on the Archeology, Climatology, Geology, Hydrology & Mineral Resources of this region can be found at Anosy.)


Plan of the fort from 1650

Fort Dauphin was founded in 1643 by the French East India Company who built a fort there, named in honor of the crown prince of France, the future Louis XIV. It was settled by around a hundred colonists, who found themselves involved in the local politics. The poor trade results (some ebony and little more was obtained) hardly justified the difficulties of the settlers, who suffered from tropical illnesses and other problems. After a conflict with the Antanosy people, the survivors were evacuated in 1674.

One Governor of this colony, Etienne de Flacourt, published the History of the Great Isle of Madagascar and Relations,[1] which was the main source of information on the island for Europeans until the late 19th century. (For additional information on the early history of Tolagnaro (then called Fort Dauphin), see [2][3][4][5][6][7] For a picture of Antanosy warriors see [8])

After World War II and until Didier Ratsiraka took the presidency in 1975, Fort Dauphin had a thriving community of Malagasy, French, Chinese and Pakistani merchants with adequate roads connecting the city to Tulear to the west and Fianarantsoa to the west and then north. The port provided a means of exporting cattle to Mauritius and importing various goods from France and elsewhere. During the time Philibert Tsiranana was President of Madagascar, he enjoyed flying down to Fort Dauphin to stay in a villa above Libanona beach.

In 1975, the French businesses were nationalized, French citizen's assets were frozen and several were briefly imprisoned.

Fort Dauphin was the headquarters of American Lutheran missionaries American Lutheran Church who worked in southern Madagascar (see Malagasy Lutheran Church) starting in 1888 for almost 100 years. They were engaged in community development, education, evangelism and medical work and also operated what was known as the "American School" and the "Missionary Children's Home" (MCH). The school is now a Maternelle and the MCH is the Mahavoky Hotel. In 1959 about 25 American Lutheran missionary families and quite a few single missionaries were living in over 20 towns in an area that ran roughly from Fort Dauphin northeast to Manantenina, west to Ranomafana, northwest to Tsivory, north to Betroka southwest to Betioky and southwest to St. Augustine. When the number of students seeking a US education in Madagascar on the island declined rapidly in the late 1970s, the school briefly moved to operate alongside an NMS school in Antsirabe in the mid-1980s until finally the very few remaining students began attending the American School in Antananarivo in the 1990s. American missionary families and other English-speaking families in Madagascar (including kids from other missionary organizations, NASA, and US Embassy employees living in Antananarivo) and for a time, even East Africa, sent their children to this boarding school. While most of the students were from the US, there were also Malagasy, Canadian and Norwegian students who went to this school, which from the 1960s to the end of the 1970s averaged 50 to 60 students per year in grades 1-12. Notable alumni include Dr. Carl Braaten Carl Braaten, Lutheran Theologian, David Brancaccio of the PBS NOW program, Dr. Pier Larson, Professor of African History, Johns Hopkins[9] and Dr. Stan Quanbeck, medical missionary to Madagascar for 40 years.

The Lutheran missionaries also traded land above the original Fort Dauphin harbor for what was then a sand dune, which became Libanona where the cottages on top of the hill were built as a place for R&R and to live while they were visiting their children at the school. There is also a section of the town's cemetery where quite a few American Lutheran missionaries and several others are buried. (For a history of the early work of these Lutheran missionaries see [10][11][12])

Modern era

For some time there had only been a port of local importance, and for the past 35 years, no good road connections to the rest of the country. As of recently Fort Dauphin has not yet recovered the vitality it had in the 1960s and early 1970s. This in spite of significant foreign exchange earned from the export of live lobster (250 to over 350 tonnes/year from 1990 to 2005),[13] saphires[14] and, up until the hotels in town were all filled by those working on QMM's mining project in 2007, tourism. While these folks have now left, tourists have not yet returned in any significant numbers.

The Anosy area around Tolagnaro is currently undergoing a massive transformation associated with the development of a new ilmenite mine by the QIT Madagascar Minerals company (a subsidiary of the Rio Tinto Group) in the area[15]. A new port at Ehoala, just west of Tolagnaro[16] as well as new roads and a variety of mining facilities and housing have been built at the cost of almost US$1 billion. These are the first major investments in the region's infrastructure for many decades. (For a history of this project as well as it's social and environmental concepts, see [17]). The mine is controversial however due to the predicted social upheaval and adverse environmental impacts it was predicted to have and some of which now has begun to happen.[18] Health officials also fear HIV/Aids, which to date has been almost unknown in Madagascar, could spread to the island via foreigners working on the mineo[19].

Rio Tinto Alcan is also interested in possibly mining an estimated 100 million tons of bauxite located near Manantenina which is approximately 100 km. northeast of Tolagnaro.[20]

Today there are a variety of international non-governmental organizations with offices in Tolagnaro including Andrew Lees Trust,[21] Anosy Community Development Trust,[22] AVIA,[23] Azafady,[24] CARE,[25] the Libanona Ecology Centre,[26] and WWF[27].


(For more information on the region's ecology, see Anosy and Ganzorn et al. (2007).[28])

See also



  1. ^ Malotet, Arthur. (1898). Etienne de Flacourt: Ou, les origines de la colonisation Francaise a Madagascar, 1648-1661. Ernest Leroux: Paris.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Ramangalahy, Pasteur. (2004). L’Histoire de Fort Dauphin. SIT Lecture Notes.
  4. ^ Pearson, Mike P. (1997). Close encounters of the worst kind: Malagasy resistance and colonial disasters in southern Madagascar. World Archaeology, 28(3), 393-417. [see]
  5. ^ Jolly, Alison. (2004). Lords and lemurs: Mad scientists, kings with spears, and the survival of diversity in Madagascar. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
  6. ^ Bialuschewski, Arne. (2005). Pirates, slavers, and the indigenous population in Madagascar, c. 1690-1715. The International Journal of African Historical Studies, 38(3), 401-425. [see]
  7. ^ Defoe et al. (1897). Madagascar; or, Robert Drury's journal: during fifteen years' captivity on that island.
  8. ^ Antanosy warriors
  9. ^ Dr. Pier Larson
  10. ^ ???. (1995). First Norwegian-American Missionaries, 3 of 3. Norwegian-American Studies, 34(10).
  11. ^ Vigen, James B. (1991). A historical and missiological account of the pioneer missionaries in the establishment of the American Lutheran mission in southeast Madagascar, 1887-1911: John P. and Oline Hogstad. Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago.
  12. ^ Hogstad, Johan Peter
  13. ^ [ Sabatini, Gino et al. (2008). A review of the Spiny Lobster fishery in the Tolagnaro (Fort-Dauphin) region.]
  14. ^ Darbellay, Alain. (2009). The story of the first Madagascar sapphire - Andranondambo.
  15. ^ "Madagascar titanium dioxide project". Rio Tinto Group. 3 August 2005. Retrieved 2007-10-05.  
  16. ^ Port d'Ehoala
  17. ^ Vincelette, Manon et al. (2008). The QMM/Rio Tinto project history in Tolagnaro and its social and environmental concepts.
  18. ^ PANOS London. (2009). Pushed to the edge.
  19. ^ "Madagascar's ticking HIV time bomb". BBC News. July 27, 2007.  
  20. ^ Alcan. (2009). Alcan to explore development of Bauxite mine and Alumina refinery in Madagascar.
  21. ^ Andrew Lees Trust
  22. ^ Anosy Community Development Trust
  23. ^ AVIA
  24. ^ Azafady
  25. ^ CARE
  26. ^ Libanona Ecology Centre
  27. ^ WWF
  28. ^ Ganzorn et al. (Eds.). (2007). Biodiversity, ecology and conservation of littoral ecosystems in southeastern Madagascar, Tolagnaro (Fort Dauphin)

External links



  • 1508 - Diego Lopez de Sequiera of Portugal anchors in first Ranofotsy, then Tolagnaro bay, finding metis Indians already living there and also at Manafiafy.


  • 1642-43 - First French colonial settlement in Anosy established by the French East India Company at Manafiafy, 40 km. northeast of Tolagnaro, but after 26 of the 40 settlers died within the first several months there, settlement was moved to what became Fort Dauphin.
  • 1643-73 - Several different French Governors of Fort Dauphin colony sought to conquer Anosy, pillaging and then burning hundreds of villages, killing thousands of Malagasy, enslaving others and stealing tens of thousands of cattle. During this time French living there also fought for several of the Antanosy kings. Fort Dauphin was a rough place to live. According to one source:

With the exception of some officers who feared God, there was neither order nor justice in the quarter of the Europeans. The most atrocious robberies were committed with impunity. The cattle of the natives was taken by force: they were massacred without mercy, when they did not give it cheerfully: they treated as an outrage upon temporals, the representations and complaints of a conduct so contrary to justice and humanity.

  • 1646 - 12 Frenchmen who had mutinied against Governor Pronis exiled with several Malagsy women are sent to Reunion, becoming the first residents of that island.
  • 1650 - For what Fort Dauphin looked like per Flacourt at this point in time, see the map above under "History."
  • 1655 - Most of Fort Dauphin burned down during festivities for the arrival of Governor Ponis.
  • 1658 - Flacourt's Histoire de la grande isle Madagascar is published in Paris, but then Flacourt dies when his ship is sunk by Corsairs on his return to Fort Dauphin.
  • 1672 - In October the Dunkuerquoise anchors in harbor, carrying amongst other things ?? teenage French girls, who were being sent to Reunion to become wives of the settlers there. They jumped ship, however, and were soon all married to Frenchmen, who in turn divorced their Malagasy wives. This soured relationships with the Antanosy to the point that at midnight of Christmas that year, over half the French colony was massacred. The rest of the colony was either already in or fled to the fort where they stayed awaiting a ship to rescue them.
  • 1674 - In September the White Pigeon, a company ship, came and evacuated all the surviving settlers to Reunion.
  • 1675 - A ship stopped at Fort Dauphin to find the settlement in ashes. French King Louis XIV decided to abandon the colony which cost shareholders 10 millions livres (over 1/7th the cost of what it took to build the Versailles Palace).


  • 1697-1705 - Abraham Samuel, Indian Ocean Pirate, a runaway mulatto slave from Martinique, whose pirate ship washed ashore in Fort Dauphin bay, occupies the abandoned fort and is identified by a local princess as the child she had borne to a Frenchman during the occupancy of the colony. Thus he is declared heir to the vacant throne of the kingdom and, together with at least 45 other pirates, some who served as his bodyguards, as "King" Samuel, he conducts both piracy of ships stopping in the harbor and engages in warfare with a neighboring Antanosy kingdom after claiming rule over the old heartland of the Zafiraminy. This settlement rivaled St. Mary for some time.
  • 1705 - Samuel's kingdom ends with his death.
  • 1706 - A Dutch captain is unable to find out what happened to Abraham Samuel from the local Antanosy king.
  • 1730 - Pirate Olivier Levasseur was captured near Fort Dauphin, taken to Reunion and hanged.
  • 1745-61 - Fort Dauphin a Compagnie des Indes outpost.
  • 1766-70 - A French naval officer reestablished a colony at Fort Dauphin, including an attempted agricultural concession at Fenoarivo???. In 1769 he introduced prickly pear cactus from Mexico to Fort Dauphin to protect the seaward side of the Fort from pirates and strong storms. In the next century it spread across southern Madagascar, as it became very popular as a way to enclose and protect both cattle and villages.


  • 1804 - French colony again at Fort Dauphin???
  • 1818-25 - French post at Fort Dauphin until Anosy was conquered by 4,000 Imerina. This included the French garrison at Fort Dauphin where the Imerina soldiers tore down the French flag and raised Radama's instead. They sent the 5 French soldiers and 1 officer there to Isle St. Marie and begin to extract taxes from the Antanosy. Fort has 800 Hova and some Sakalava troops for some time. This resulted in some of the Antanosy people moving west to the Onilahy valley near Bezaha.
  • 1880 - 2 Imerina evangelists from the LMS begin evangelism work in Fort Dauphin.
  • 1888 - American Rev. John and Lena Hogstad arrive in Fort Dauphin, beginning work on establishing a Lutheran church in Anosy (see [2] for more information on their work). The work of Lutheran missionaries from the US eventually expanded to encompass all of Anosy, Androy, the Mahafaly and part of the Bara regions, with significant numbers of American Lutheran pastors, evangelists, educators and medical staff working in southern Madagascar for the next 100 years.
  • 1890s - Over 1,500 tonnes of caoutchouc collected in Anosy exported to Europe from Fort Dauphin. Some of it is used in the first tires made by Michelin.
  • 1895 - Madagascar conquered by France.
  • 1896 - Apostolic Vicariate of Madagascar established Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Madagascar (see Roman Catholic Diocese of Tôlagnaro for more information on the work of the Roman Catholic Church in Anosy.)


  • 190? - Jenny (Swiss-German) is one of the first Europeans to settle in Fort Dauphin, by 1901 having established a Swiss "house of business." At this point in time 4-5 million French francs per year of caoutchouc was being exported from Fort Dauphin. This ended soon thereafter as the trees from which this was obtained became exhausted.
  • 1901 - The English "Union" and "Castle" lines were running ships from Cape Town to Tamatave, with a stopover in Fort Dauphin.
  • 1911 - Missionary John Hogstad dies in Fort Dauphin and is buried there.
  • ???? - Pierre de Bellier de Villentroy (Frenchman living on Reunion, an uncle of Alain and Henri de Heaulme) established a mica mine near Tsivory, from which he exported mica through Fort Dauphin.
  • 1920? - Marthe de Heaulme arrives in Fort Dauphin as a Catholic novitiate, becoming Sister Gabrielle of the Daughters of Charity, eventually founding and heading 3 different religious communities in southern Madagascar. Alain and Henri de Heaulme move south to work on Pierre de Bellier de Villentroy's mica mine near Tsivory, where Alain became manager.
  • 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 and sisal from Androy through Fort Dauphin. This family also gets involved in conservation efforts and later also gets into the tourism business.
  • 1936 - The first sisal plantation near Amboasary is established by Établissements Gallois. Henri de Heaulme established his sisal plantation and the Berenty forest reserve.
  • 1940 - Vichy France takes over control of Madagascar. Mica continued to be exported from Fort Dauphin to both Axis and Allied countries.
  • 1942 - In the Battle of Madagascar British forces replace Vichy France's control of Madagascar with that of the Free French, which included landing British soldiers in Fort Dauphin. With Free French in control of Madagascar, the Jenny family is imprisoned in Fort Dauphin and M. Seyrig, an Alsatian who was the Fort Dauphin harbormaster at the time of the war, is arrested, tortured and dies in prison in Tananarive.
  • 1947 - Short-lived attack in Fort Dauphin at the start of the rebellion. Malagasy MDRM members living in Fort Dauphin arrested and tortured by French authorities during the rebellion. While many of the foreigners in Fort Dauphin slept either in the heavily guarded Jenny house or at the fort due to fear of attack from rebels, this never happened. de Heaulme, Jenny and Silva funded flying a person to Tananarive where Catholic brothers there were requested to open a school for teenage boys in Fort Dauphin, but this was turned down due to a lack of teachers.
  • 1950s-60s - Boetchi (Swiss), de Heaulme and Jenny families and the Lyonnaise and Marseillaise companies exported wild castor oil beans, cattle (10-30,000/year), mica and sisal. In addition to this 4,000 tonnes of thorianite from a mine 60 km northwest of Tolagnaro was also exported.
  • 1956 - First Lycee built in Fort Dauphin, but due to what had historically been poor education in the area, only 30 students qualified for entry, even though the school was equipped to handle 400.
  • 1957 - Construction of the SIFOR sisal weaving factory just outside Fort Dauphin.
  • 1958 - Henri de Heaulme becomes president of the Provincial Assembly and vice-president of the National Assembly, urging independence for Madagascar. He is present with Tsiranana and Monja Jaona at the signing of the new constitution.
  • 1960 - Madagascar became an independent nation, with President Tsiranana describing the French residents as the 16th tribe.
  • 1961 - SIFOR was producing 800 tonnes per year, half of which was exported to France and Reunion.
  • 1963 - 105 Chinese living in Tolagnaro
  • 1965 - Population of Fort Dauphin is 11,800 and the population of the Antanosy in the Anosy region estimated to be 148,132. Port of Fort Dauphin was handling 30,000 tons per year.
  • 1971 - Hundreds of arrested MONIMA supporters from Androy placed on a cargo ship and sent to prison on Nosy Lava.
  • 1972-76 - Quite a few foreign residents in the Tolagnaro area return to Europe when the Malagasy government refuses to renew their visas as Malagasy government shifts from being pro- to anti-French.
  • 1974 - Beginning of export of live lobsters from Anosy which was made possible in part due to beginning of 737 service between Fort Dauphin and Tananarive.
  • 1975 Cyclone Deborah damages much of Anosy, including Tolagnaro, knocking out electricity and water supply for several days. Ratsiraka orders the nationalization of foreign owned businesses, resulting in Jenny family moving back to Switzerland, their holdings in Tolagnaro nationalized.
  • 1976 - de Guitaut family turns over management of their sisal plantation to Merina overseers, shutters house, and returns to France.
  • 1978-79 - What the Alien Digest reports as a "cigar-shaped craft" crashing near Tolagnaro is actually a flare lit by a foreign resident of Tolagnaro. This results in the September arrest of Jean de Heaulme and 4 other foreigners are arrested and held in the Fort Dauphin prison until February 1979. Nevertheless on June 26 of 1979, Jean de Heaulme is an honored guest at the Independence Day celebrations in Tolagnaro, though his passport is held by the Malagasy government for several years.
  • 1980s - Anosy region becomes a high priority area for conservation efforts resulting in the influx of a wide variety of international NGOs who begin work in this area. SHTM created by de Heaulme which currently has 5 hotels in the Tolagnaro area plus the Berenty reserve.
  • 1986 - Henri and Jean de Heaulme family awarded the J. Paul Getty Award for Conservation Leadership for their conservation work in Madagascar. OMNIS begins what becomes a 20+ year process which finally leads to mining of titanium.
  • 1990s - Tolagnaro becomes a major tourist destination and remains so until the mining construction in 2007 fills all the hotels in Tolagnaro with international and Malagasy working on that.
  • 1994 - Andrew Lees dies of heat exhaustion in the Petriky forest, just west of Tolagnaro, while researching the impacts of mining in the Anosy region. The next year the Andrew Lees Trust was established, with an office at Libanona, to develop and implement social and environmental education projects in southern Madagascar.
  • 1995 - 300 tons of seaweed per year being exported to Japan.
  • 1996 - Anosy region is identified as one of the ecologically most diverse regions of Madagascar.


  • 2000 - Cholera outbreak in Tolagnaro.
  • 2003 - Tolagnaro is the 3rd most visited city in Madagascar by tourists, with 88,000 traveling to Anosy. Joint French-Malagasy military exercises in Tolagnaro.
  • 2004 - Air Madagascar begins flights directly between Reunion and Tolagnaro.
  • 2006 - In May EcoDev Madagascar organizes a "Rando de l'histoire" in Tolagnaro.
  • 2007 - Over 500,000 people now living in Anosy. In addition, Americans, Canadians, Filipinos, French, Japanese and South Africans all living in Tolagnaro while working on the QMM projects, filling up all the hotels into 2009. Air Madagascar begins a flight directly between Joburg and Tolagnaro. Ministry of Justice removed the prosecutor and the President of the Tribunal in Fort Dauphin as punishment for their ineffectiveness in prosecuting sex tourists. The Morals and Minors Brigade in Tolagnaro alerted schools that child trafficking victims were being contacted by exploiters via cell phone. Tolagnaro also closes several nightclubs which were allowing minors on their premises.
  • 2009 - Port d'Ehoala is completed and QIT Madagascar Minerals begins to export ilmenite through it to Canada for processing after over 30 years of exploration and studies and several years of construction of the port and mining facilities.

Coordinates: 25°02′S 46°59′E / 25.033°S 46.983°E / -25.033; 46.983



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