What you need to know about Fort Dauphin
Map of Fort-Dauphin- Madagascar
Tôlanaro or Tolagnaro is a city (commune urbaine) on the southeast coast of Madagascar. It is the capital of the Anosy Region and of the Tôlanaro District. It has been a port of local importance since the early 1500s, and a new port, the Port d’Ehola, has been built by QMM and the World Bank. Formerly Fort-Dauphin, it was the first French settlement in Madagascar.
The population of Tolanaro is around 46,000 inhabitants.
Languages spoken, Français, Malagasy.
The Ariary (MGA) is the money of Madagascar.
Tôlañaro was initially situated on a short, narrow peninsula on the extreme southeastern coast of Madagascar. It has since grown to cover a much greater area along the ocean, almost to Mount Bezavona.
Tôlanaro has a tropical rainforest climate, though it is less rainy than areas further north on the eastern Malagasy coast. Being closer to the centre of the subtropical anticyclones than other parts of Madagascar, most rainfall is orographic, and tropical cyclones are not as common as in more northerly parts of the island.
Even before the formal ratification, in March 1642 an expedition of the French East India Company embarked for Madagascar, under the command of Jacques de Pronis. They initially settled down in the Sainte Luce, where Pronis, hoping to curry favour with the Malagasy, married the daughter of a local chief. His marriage with a black woman was deplored by his men. The addition of another hundred Frenchmen to the fort created food shortages and general discontent. In addition to this, the insalubrities of the area provoked a lethal fever to many men, and the company was forced to move to the drier “Tholongar” peninsula. The new settlement was named Fort Dauphin in the honour of the future King Sun of France, Louis XIV. The Catholic members of the troupe do not accept, however, to be governed by a Protestant. A rebellion broke out. Pronis is taken prisoner and then released with the help of a new vessel. In an act of revenge, he humiliates the rebels and deport to the Bourbon island. After the arrival of Etienne de Flacourt late in 1648, he left to conquer other lands.
Flacourt, naturalist, was more interested in exploring in depth the vast island than dealing with the natives, whose intrigues and attacks kept him in continual harassment during his entire term of office. He could, however, restore the order among the mutinied soldiers and was the first European to have recorded knowledge of the elephant bird of Madagascar when these amazing bergs possibly still existed. His numerous surveys will be published in its famous History of Madagascar.
Meanwhile, Pronis returned to Fort Dauphin to retrain his authority, but the destiny of the colony was already in danger. A night of revelry, a drunken man sets fire to a roof: the town is reduced to a pile of ashes. But Pronis is stubborn. And, supported by a priest, he decided to rebuild the colony. A new fire and a new reconstruction follow. Exhausted, he died at the age of thirty six years. Flacourt perish f off Lisbon, while his ship, the Holy Virgin, is sunk by the Turks. In Fort Dauphin, the indigenous revolt continues. The surviving settlers were finally evacuated in 1674 after a terrible massacre perpetrated by the local Antanosy people on the white settlers. Rebels, infuriated by the abuses of the colonists, burst onto the midnight mess on Christmas Eve and killed fifty eight of the seventy mass attendants. The survivors were evacuated and Fort Dauphin was abandoned thirty years after its foundation.
There are two means of reaching Fort Dauphin. You can go there directly by plane, or by taking the national route 13 from Ihosy. This road, which traverse all the desert, is not up to scratch and you need a pickup truck for your trip. Nevertheless, it is worth taking because by following it you will see and enjoy the magnificient desert.