The Merina are an ethnic group from Madagascar. The Merina are concentrated in the Highlands and speak the official dialect of the Malagasy language, which is a branch of the Malayo-Polynesian language group derived from the Barito languages, spoken in southern Borneo. Their ancestors, the Austronesians, migrated from Borneo in the Malay archipelago around 1 BC. Today, the Austronesian features of the Merina are still quite visible. The Merina cultivate rice, cassava, potatoes, onions, and other crops and raise cattle and pigs. They constitute a large proportion of the educated middle-class and intellectual elite of Madagascar, serving as businessmen, technicians, managers, and government officials.
Beginning in the late 18th century, Merina sovereigns extended political domination over the rest of the island, ultimately uniting it under their rule. In 1895–96 the French colonized Madagascar and abolished the Merina monarchy by force in 1897.
Antananarivo (pron.: //; Malagasy [antaˈnanaˈrivʷ], from Tanànan'ny Arivolahy), formerly Tananarive (pron.: // or //), is the capital and largest city in Madagascar. It is also known by its French colonial shorthand form Tana. The larger urban area surrounding the city, known as Antananarivo-Renivohitra ("Antananarivo-Mother Hill" or "Antananarivo-Capital"), is the capital of Analamanga Region.