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 sapphire stones originate from this region, making Madagascar the world's largest sapphire exporter.
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.
Further information see the Madagascar Sapphire Rush article.