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The east coast is known for its stormy sea and strong winds. However, at the end of the 19th century, with the recent occupation and pacification of the Mandritsara region, the opening of a good road between this locality and the small port of Rantabe increases the importance of transactions in the Bay of Antongil where ships find good moorings.
In the middle of the Indian Ocean, the small island of Sainte-Marie, located opposite the port of Tintingue, offers a good anchorage. It is also a stopover of the steamships of the Maritime Messageries.
On the Great Earth but a little further south, the port of Toamasina is the most important commercial center of Madagascar. Two lines of reefs protect the harbor against the high seas and give it relative safety. The majority of products from the East Coast and the interior are directed to Toamasina.
In 1898, a number of French merchants already reside there. In the same way, a few American, English, German and Swiss houses do very important business there. Indian merchants are also numerous. As for the Chinese, they owned more than 100 stores at the time, where they mainly sold food for Europeans and rice. “In the presence of the large number of these Asians, which are increasing every day, the administration has taken measures (high capitation taxes) to mitigate the effects of competition with our nationals” (Bulletin of the Committee of Madagascar, 1898 ).
At the same time, a French contractor will have to start building a wharf 300 to 500 m long, which will be lit at night by powerful aircraft. This will facilitate the operations of boarding and disembarking passengers and freight often thwarted by a strong swell. Another issue raised was the installation of general stores.
The buildings of the French companies and those of the Castle Line are not the only ones which serve the port of Toamasina where the vapors of the House Oswald of Hamburg, release three or four times a year. Numerous sailing boats, dinghies and schooners connect the ports of North and South with Toamasina.
100km south of the big port of the East, Andevoranto is not protected like this one by reefs of corals. Thus, exports, mainly of raffia and oxen skins, take place only when the state of the sea
Barges to cross the bar to go and load the boats in the roadstead, for barely eight months of the year. Andevoranto, however, has a certain commercial importance, because it is at its level that the Toamasina-Antananarivo road leaves the coast. At the end of the 19th century, ten important houses were installed or represented.
If we continue to follow the coast to the south, we arrive at Vatomandry where, after Toamasina, is imported the greatest quantity of tissues that penetrate into the interior. However, as in Andevoranto, the bad situation of the roads obliged many ships to land their goods in Toamasina. Vatomandry is connected to Antananarivo by a path very frequented by the bourjans.
Still further south, the trade items collected in the Mahanoro area are managed by sailboats on Mananjary by the Foreign Houses and on Toamasina by the French merchants. The main exports are rice, copal gum, raw raffia and empty bags made with this product.
In the south-east of the Great Island, trade by the French is weak. This is mainly due to the lack of direct communication between the two ports of Mananjary and Fort-Dauphin, and France. Thus, most of the products to be exported from these two provinces are directed to the London markets. A certain quantity is also shipped on the monthly steamer from the Castle Line to Hamburg. ” Thanks to
Foreigners not only take advantage of the trade of the South but are also the only importers of raw materials which find an easy outlet for the indigenous population