MADAGASCAR

Country Description: Madagascar is a developing island nation off the east coast of Africa. Facilities for tourism are available, but vary in quality.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A visa is required and should be obtained in advance. There is an airport departure tax. Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Madagascar, 2374 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 265-5525/6. There is a Malagasy Consulate in New York City at (212) 986-9491. There are Honorary Consuls located in Philadelphia, PA and Palo Alto, CA. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Malagasy embassy or consulate.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Madagascar completed a transition to a multi-party democracy in 1993 and held a peaceful presidential election in 1996. Travelers should nonetheless avoid political gatherings or demonstrations and not photograph airports or military installations.

Medical Facilities: Medical facilities are minimal. Many medicines are unavailable. Doctors and hospitals often request immediate cash payment for health care services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. The Medicaid/Medicare program does not provide for payment of medical services outside the United States. Supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage, including air evacuations, has proven useful. For additional health information, travelers can contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at (404) 332-4559, Internet: http://www.cdc.gov.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Street crime, including muggings and purse snatchings, poses a growing risk for visitors, especially in the capital, Antananarivo. These crimes generally occur in or near public mass transit systems and at night while walking in central Antananarivo. 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.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict in Madagascar, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Air Travel: Domestic and international air services operate regularly but they are subject to delays and occasional breakdowns. Air Madagascar often changes flight schedules with little or no prior warning to passengers.

Road Conditions: Except for Antananarivo's main streets and a few well-maintained routes to outlying cities, most roads are in disrepair. Public transportation is unreliable and vehicles are poorly maintained. Neither pedestrian crosswalks nor working traffic signals exist.

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 and 16 Rue Rainitovo, Antsahavola, Antananarivo. The mailing address is B.P. 620, Antsahavola, Madagascar. The telephone number is (261-2) 212-57; the fax number is (261-2) 345-39.

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