Sihanaka literally means People of the swamps. The Sihanaka is a small tribe of rice farmers and fishermen, representing about 2.5% of the population of Madagascar. Their home are the northern highlands, northeast of the old kingdom of Imerina around Lake Alaotra with Ambatondrazaka being the capital. The Sihanaka originate from the Antaisaka of the east coast. From Mahakary, the first village built by the Sihanaka, they populated the rest of the lake borders. They have been conquered by the Merina in the early 19th century.
The Sihanaka people have much in common with the Merina people. They also practise wet-rice cultivation similar to that of the Merina.
The graves of the Sihanakas are decorated with up to 10m high wooden stilts (jiro).