| || Sainte-Marie in the province of Tamatave (Toamasina in Malagasy) is a long strip of land running parallel to the Malagasy coast about 25 mi (40 km) offshore. With its beaches, coral, and lush vegetation, it is one of the most attractive places in Madagascar. The eastern coast of Madagascar runs straight and sandy for more than 600 mi (966 km). Appearing up and down the coast, unusual reefs known as fringing reefs make it easier to reach land, notably the port of Tamatave, the largest on the island. The Portuguese, the first Europeans to come ashore here, probably named it, with Toamasina referring to Saint Thomas. The Malagasy legend is more prosaic: Radama I is said to have descended from the high plateaus for the first time and upon tasting the water here declared, Toa masina (“It’s salty!”) The resistance of Malagasy people, originally from Mozambique and South Asia, to Europeans does not stop at etymology. It manifested itself in the form of an anti-colonial revolt in the north of the island in 1947, which was subdued by a terrible bloodbath.
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