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 the 90s to about 30,000 today. Since 2008 most sapphire stones in the world originate from this region.
Directly north of the road lies Isalo National Park, which likely has large deposits of sapphires, but the area is nature protected where mining is not permitted.
Most mining activity occurs directly south east of the main road.
The mining work is primarely carried out by Malagasy workers run by small businesses, with resident dealers mostly from Sri Lanka and Thailand where the rough stones are usually sent for cutting.
There are various other smaller sapphire towns along the road south.