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Mahajanga maːˈdzaŋɡə̥ is a city
A city is a relatively large and permanent settlement. Although there is no agreement on how a city is distinguished from a town within general English language meanings, many cities have a particular administrative, legal, or historical status based on local law.For example, in the U.S...

 and a district on the north-west coast of Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...



The City of Mahajanga (Mahajanga I) is the capital of the Boeny
Boeny is a region in northwestern Madagascar. It borders Sofia Region in northeast, Betsiboka in south and Melaky in west. The capital of the region is Mahajanga, and the population was estimated to be 543,200 in 2004. The area of Boeny is ....

 region. Population: 135,660 (2001 estimate).

Mahajanga is a seaport, the most important one in Madagascar after Toamasina
Toamasina , meaning "like salt" or "salty", unofficially and in French also Tamatave, is a city on the east coast of Madagascar on the Indian Ocean. The city is the chief seaport of the country, situated northeast of its capital and biggest city Antananarivo, near the centre of the eastern coast...

. The marine terminal accommodates containerships and small (150 gross ton) general cargo freighters. Because of limited water depth at the wharf, only small ships can call at the terminal. Deeper-draft ships anchor off the terminal and transfer cargoes to and from barges, which move it to and from the terminal. Severe storms during December 2006 damaged the bulkhead, allowing water to flow in and wash backfill out from under the terminal's paving blocks. The resulting collapse of pavement blocks has made operations at the terminal less efficient and reduced the storage space available. The largest and most valuable containerized export is frozen shrimp.

There is an international airport with regional flights to the Comoros
The Comoros , officially the Union of the Comoros is an archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean, located off the eastern coast of Africa, on the northern end of the Mozambique Channel, between northeastern Mozambique and northwestern Madagascar...

 and Mayotte
Mayotte is an overseas department and region of France consisting of a main island, Grande-Terre , a smaller island, Petite-Terre , and several islets around these two. The archipelago is located in the northern Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean, namely between northwestern Madagascar and...


The city is located on the Betsiboka River, which then leads to Bombetoka Bay
Bombetoka Bay
Bombetoka Bay is a bay on the northwestern coast of Madagascar near the city of Mahajanga, where the Betsiboka River flows into the Mozambique Channel...


Mahajanga is a favorite tourist destination for both Malagasy tourists and international travelers, with beautiful beaches, a coconut-lined boardwalk (La Boru), and eight months of hot yet virtually rain-free weather.

The city has a sizeable Muslim population. In 1977, it was the scene of ethnic unrest, forcing the evacuation of the Comorian minority living there.

In December 2006, a cyclone hit Mahajanga, causing significant damage to the port facilities and to some buildings located on or near the coast.

In the 1880s a community of roughly 200 Indian traders had formed at Mahajanga at the mouth of the Betsiboka River. Thus, the etymology of the word "Mahajanga" is Indic. Confusion arose over their legal status; they often declared themselves to be Malagasy subjects in order to evade the laws against slave-holding or the building of stone houses, both forbidden to British subjects, while their dhows, which they used to transport goods to and from the African mainland, flew French flags. Initial arrivals were mainly Muslim Khojas, Ismailis and Daoudi Bohras, with some Hindus settling later. The 1911 census found 4,480 Indians in the country, making them 21% of the total foreign population and the second-largest foreign population after the French. Following the nationalisation of private businesses in the 1970s, many were compelled to leave; those who remained were largely uneducated, but stayed on and gradually built their businesses. By 2000, they were generally believed to control 50-60% of the country's economy, making them the target of demonstrators during periods of unrest.


Mahajanga II is the district surrounding Mahajanga I. Population: 46,790 (2001 estimate).