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Toamasina (Masc. "like salt"), often known as Tamatave, is a city (commune urbaine) in Madagascar.
Toamasina is the capital of the Atsinanana region and of the Toamasina Province. President by special delegation of the city: Gervais Rakotomanana (since 30 May 2007). The former mayor, Roland Ratsiraka, was suspended after a decision in the municipal council earlier in 2007.
It is the chief seaport of Madagascar, situated nearly on the centre of the eastern coast at 18 10 S, 49 32 E. It has population of 179,045 (2001 census).
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.
It has wide palm tree lined avenues and selection of hotels and restaurants. The beaches in this area are beautiful, although sharks and pollution prevent swimming. Bazary Be is one of its colorful street markets. Here you can buy everything from exotic spices to handicrafts. The central market in the heart of the city is one of the most popular sites in the city.
The city is home to the University of Toamasina, which is part of Madagascar's public university system.
Toamasina is the see city of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toamasina.
Under French domination, Toamasina was the seat of several foreign consuls, as well as of numerous French officials, and was the chief port for the capital and the interior. Imports consisted principally of piece-goods, farinaceous foods, and iron and steel goods, and exports of gold dust, raffia, hides, caoutchouc (rubber) and live animals. Communication with Europe was maintained by steamers of the Messageries Maritimes and the Havraise companies, and also with Mauritius, and thence to Sri Lanka, by the British Union-Castle Line.
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 neighboring marshes, there has been improvement. After 1895 the native population was 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 Antananarivo.
The town is the railhead for the line to the capital.