Toliara (also known as Toliary, formerly Tuléar) is a city in Madagascar. It is the capital of the Atsimo-Andrefana region, located 936 km south-west ‘of Antananarivo. The current spelling(s) of the name was adopted in the 1970s, and reflects the orthography of the Malagasy language. Many geographic place names were similarly altered in this time from their previous French spellings following Malagasy independence in 1960. The city has a population of 148,500. As a port town it acts as a major import/export hub for commodities such as sisal, soap, hemp, cotton, rice, and peanuts. Air Madagascar operates scheduled flights to here.
In the 17th century, French buccaneers landed in the bay of St. Augustine near the Tropic of Capricorn, and founded the city to maintain commercial relations It was not until the colonial period, after 1897, when the city really grew: with the efforts of Joseph Gallieni to install French administrative services, previously isolated on the island of Nosy Ve, to form the regional capital. Tulear grew along a grid pattern of cross streets, with wide avenues and public monuments.
Toliara has seen a population boom over the last two decades, due to a rural exodus that has brought over 200,000 citizens into urban centers in the region. The Vezo, nomadic fishermen, are the indigenous ethnic group. Today they are being dominated by migrants from the South (Mahafaly, Masikoro, Antandroy) which make up more than half of the urban population. To these are added migrants from other urban regions, occupying positions in government and the private sector.