Fianarantsoa is a city (commune urbaine) in south central Madagascar.
Fianarantsoa is the capital of Haute Matsiatra Region. It was built in the early 19th century by the Merina as the administrative capital for the newly conquered Betsileo kingdoms.
It is at an average altitude of 1,200 metres (3,900 ft), and has a population of 144,225 (2001 census).
Fianarantsoa means "Good education" in Malagasy. It is a cultural and intellectual center for the whole island. It is home to some of the oldest Protestant and Lutheran cathedrals on the island, the oldest theological seminary (also Lutheran), as well as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Fianarantsoa. The city of "good education" also boasts a university named after it and built in 1972. Fianarantsoa is considered to be the capital of wine in Madagascar, because of the presence of many wine industries in the city.
Fianarantsoa has been known for its political activism and was one of the "hot spots" during the political crisis in 2002. Students of the University of Fianarantsoa have a reputation for sympathizing with radical leftist groups. The mayor of Fianarantsoa comes from the MFM political party whose colors are based on the anarcho-syndicalist flag.
Haute Matsiatra is a region in Madagascar. It borders Amoron'i Mania region in north, Vatovavy-Fitovinany in east, Ihorombe in south and Atsimo-Andrefana in west. The capital of the region is Fianarantsoa, and the population was estimated to be 1,128,900 in 2004. The area is 21,080 km2 (8,139 sq mi).
The region is divided into five districts:
Madagascar, officially the Republic of Madagascar (Malagasy: Repoblikan'i Madagasikara [republiˈkʲan madaɡasˈkʲarə̥]; French: République de Madagascar) and previously known as the Malagasy Republic, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, off the southeastern coast of Africa. The nation comprises the island of Madagascar (the fourth-largest island in the world), as well as numerous smaller peripheral islands. Following the prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, Madagascar split from India around 88 million years ago, allowing native plants and animals to evolve in relative isolation. Consequently, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90 percent of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. The island's diverse ecosystems and unique wildlife are threatened by the encroachment of the rapidly growing human population.
Initial human settlement of Madagascar occurred between 350 BCE and 550 CE by Austronesian peoples arriving on outrigger canoes from Borneo. These were joined around 1000 CE by Bantu migrants crossing the Mozambique Channel. Other groups continued to settle on Madagascar over time, each one making lasting contributions to Malagasy cultural life. The Malagasy ethnic group is often divided into eighteen or more sub-groups of which the largest are the Merina of the central highlands.