Ilakaka is a small town in the south west of Madagascar along the R7 national route towards Tulear. Ilakaka is a sapphire boom town that has grown from less than 50 residents in the 90s to over 30,000 today. Since 2008 most of the worlds sapphire stones originate from this region, making Madagascar the world's largest sapphire exporter.
North of the road lies Isalo National Park, which likely has large deposits of sapphires, but as the area is nature protected and mining is not permitted there. Most mining activity occurs directly south and east of the main road.
The mining work is primarily carried out by Malagasy workers who are managed by small businesses and temporarily resident dealers, many of whom are of Sri Lankan, Thai or Chinese origin. The rough stones are usually brought to either Thailand or Sri Lanka for cutting.
Various other smaller sapphire towns can be found along the road westwards, such as Antsotramadoro and Sakahara.
Tel: +261 (0)33 14 951 21 or +261 (0)33 14 706 76 or +261 (0)33 14 710 50
View all Ilakaka photos
- Madagascar Sapphire Rush
- In pictures: Madagascar's sapphire mining rush - BBC News, 4 July 2015
- Ilakaka City: the Wild West is over! - Prime Magazine, 4 May 2018