Peoples of the Tsaratamana Massif and the Southwest
The Antakarana, living on the Tsaratamana Massif and the northern tip of the island, make up 0.6 percent of the population. The topography of the region isolates them from the other Malagasy peoples. They are both cattle herders and tropical horticulturalists.
The major peoples of the arid southwest region are the Mahafaly and the Antandroy, making up 1.6 and 5.4 percent of the population, respectively. The Mahafaly occupy a region between the Onilahy River to the north and the Menarandra River to the south, encompassing an area of some 45,000 square kilometers. The Antandroy territory lies to the east, a desert area full of cacti and thorn bushes. Its terrain makes their name, translated as "people of the thorns," especially apt. Both peoples depend upon the raising of cattle. Limited cultivation is also practiced. The Antandroy region is especially poor, causing workers to migrate to other parts of the island to make a living. Along with cattle, the prickly pear cactus is vital to the people's livelihood. Its spiny growths have served as a source of water and nourishment and as a means of defense against outside invaders.
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