The Antankarana people are an ethnic group living in the north of Madagascar around Antsiranana (Diego Suarez). Antankarana literally means Those of the Rocks, referring to the limestone rock formations (tsingy) and mountains which characterise their territory up until the Sambirano river, which forms the border in the south.
The Antankarana descent from a group which separated from the Sakalava in the 18th century. Under the reign of their king Tsimiharo I they formed a separate kingdom with Ambatoharanana as their capital. Today, the Antankarana royalty continues to rule, although their power is merely symbolic and mostly concerned with keeping traditions alive. They still worship natural sanctuaries. Tsanga-tsainy is the most important ceremony celebrated every five years. Therefore a large mast with emblems of the people symbolising their unity and support of the monarchy is erected. The festival is dominated by singing and dancing accompanied by sacrifices and prayers.
The tsakafara ritual is celebrated each year on a date predicted by a soothsayer. At the tsakafara people ask their ancestors for support and assistance in future projects, such as house building, business plans etc..
The duration and time of a tromba depends on the matters to be solved. At a tromba the spirits of the late kings are called upon and will appear to give advice through a possessed person.
The Antankarana people are mainly fishermen or cattle farmers. They grow only a few crops such as maize, rice and cassava on a small scale. The majority of the Antankarana are Muslims, although some have been converted to Christianity.