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.
North of the road lies Isalo National Park, which likely has large deposits of sapphires, but as the area is nature protected, mining is not permitted there. Most mining activity occurs directly south and east of the main road.
The mining work is primarely carried out by Malagasy workers who are managed by small businesses and temporary resident dealers, many of whom are of Sri Lankan and Thai or Chinese origin. The rough stones are usually brought to either Thailand or Sri Lanka for cutting.
Further information on Ilakaka's mining procedures, visit the Madagascar Sapphire Rush page.