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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet

Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Madagascar

Madagascar - Consular Information Sheet
February 8, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Madagascar, also known as the "Great Red Island," is a developing island nation off the east coast of Africa. The primary language is French. Antananarivo, the capital, enjoys a temperate climate but the island has a wide range of microclimates ranging from rain forests in the northeast to desert in the southwest. Facilities for tourism are available, but vary in quality.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required. Visas should be obtained in advance, although airport visas are available in Antananarivo, the only city with an international airport. Travelers who opt to obtain an airport visa should expect delays upon arrival. Evidence of yellow fever immunization is required for all travelers who have been in an infected zone within 6 months of their arrival in Madagascar.

Travelers may obtain the latest information and details on entry requirements from the Embassy of the Republic of Madagascar, 2374 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008; telephone (202) 265-5525/6; web site: http://www.embassy.org/madagascar; or the Malagasy Consulate inNew York City, (212) 986-9491. Honorary consuls are located in Philadelphia, San Diego and Houston. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Malagasy embassy or consulate.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Madagascar completed a transition to a multi-party democracy in 1993 and held an orderly presidential election in 1996. Travelers should nonetheless avoid political gatherings and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times. Do not photograph airports or military installations.

CRIME: The major concerns for visitors to Antananarivo are street crime and theft from residences and vehicles. Walking at night, whether alone or in a group, is not considered safe in urban areas, including in the vicinity of western-standard hotels. Wearing expensive jewelry or carrying other expensive items while on foot or using public transportation is strongly discouraged. Valuable items should never be left in an unattended vehicle. Although crimes such as burglary do occur in areas outside the capital, the threat of confrontational crime is less common in rural areas. Night travel in private or public conveyances outside Antananarivo is discouraged due to poor lighting and road conditions.

In May 1999, there was a series of robberies at Libanona Beach and Peak Saint Louis, in theFort Dauphin area, perpetrated by a person representing himself as a guide. U.S. citizens should hire only an authorized guide and be cautious when visiting Libanona Beach, Peak Saint Louis, or other isolated areas.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The pamphlets A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa provide useful information on protecting personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region in general. Both are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: There are a number of competent foreign physicians in Antananarivo, representing a broad range of specialties. The hospital infrastructure, however, is minimal and does not meet basic sanitary norms. A Seventh Day Adventist dental clinic offers emergency procedures and is similar to U.S. facilities in both procedures and cleanliness. There are also competent laboratory and X-ray facilities. Most medications are available on the local market and are mainly of French origin.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties.

Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation, and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Madagascar is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor to Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

In Madagascar, one drives on the right side of the road, yielding the right of way to vehicles coming in from the left. Most major intersections and traffic circles have police directing traffic. If the policeman has his back to you at an intersection, you are required to stop. Seat belts, child safety seats, and motorcycle helmets are not required in Madagascar. If you are caught driving under the influence of alcohol your car will be impounded for a few days and you will have to pay a fine. If you are involved in an accident involving injuries and/or deaths, there is a mandatory court case. The losing party of the court case must then pay all costs.

Except for Antananarivo's main streets and a few well-maintained routes to outlying cities, most roads are in disrepair. For those traveling by road between cities, travel at night is not recommended. Roads tend to be narrow and winding with many one-lane bridges and blind curves. Most vehicles tend to drive in the center of the road unless another vehicle is present. Local practice is to blow the horn before going around a curve, to let others know of one's presence. Few pedestrian crosswalks or working traffic signals exist.

Travel within Antananarivo can be difficult with poor road signage and an abundance of one-way streets. Taxis are plentiful and are generally reasonably priced. Expect to bargain for the fare prior to getting into the vehicle. Most accidents are pedestrian-related, due to narrow roads and lack of sidewalks on many streets.

Rental cars generally come with a driver who is responsible for maintaining the vehicle and sometimes acting as a tour guide. Public transportation is unreliable and the vehicles are poorly maintained. Rail services are very limited and undependable. However, arrangements can be made for a private train to travel to certain destinations.

The Ministry of Public Works (tel. [261] (20) 22-318-02) is Madagascar's authority responsible for road safety. During an emergency, visitors to Antananarivo can contact local police by telephoning "17", by dialing 22-227-35, or by dialing 030-23-801-40 (cellular). American citizens can also call the U.S. Embassy at 22-212-57/58/59 if assistance is needed in communicating with law enforcement officials. Ambulance services are available in Antananarivo only with Espace Medical at telephone 22-625-66 or 22-219-72.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. Information is also available at the Embassy of the Republic of Madagascar's web site at http://www.embassy.org/madagascar.

AIR TRAVEL: As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and Madagascar, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Madagascar's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at (618) 229-4801.

Domestic and international air services operate regularly but are subject to delays and occasional breakdowns. Air Madagascar often changes in-country flight schedules, based on how full the flight is, with little or no prior warning to passengers. Overbooking is also common.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Malagasy law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Madagascar are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Madagascar is prone to tropical storms. Storm season is generally January through the end of February. Storms primarily affect the eastern coast, although large storms may reach the capital, Antananarivo. Storms which affect the shipping ports may limit fuel and food supplies elsewhere in the country. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children, international parental child abduction, and international child support enforcement issues please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo, and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Madagascar. The U.S. Embassy is located at 14-16 Rue Rainitovo, Antsahavola, Antananarivo. The mailing address is B.P. 620, Antsahavola, Antananarivo, Madagascar; telephone [261] (20) 22-212-57; fax [261] (20) 22-345-39.



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