In many parts of Africa the serpent is looked upon as the incarnation of deceased relatives; among the Amazulu, as among the Betsileo of Madagascar, certain species are assigned as the abode of certain classes; the Masai, on the other hand, regard each species as the habitat of a particular family of the tribe.
Besides these highest points there are a considerable number of mountains in the central provinces of Imerina and Betsileo and the intervening and surrounding districts; and in the Bara country the Isalo range has been compared to the "Church Buttes" and other striking features of the scenery of Utah.
Among these are Betsimitatatra in Imerina, and Tsienimparihy in Betsileo, supplying a large proportion of the rice required for the capitals of these two provinces.
Across, but farther south they reach a breadth of nearly loo m., while opposite the Betsileo province they extend nearly half across the island.
But the most noticeable of these are those in the ancient bed of the Alaotra Lake, which formerly extended far southwards along the valley of the Mangoro; also those in the marshes of Antsirabe and of Ifanja, in the Ikopa valley (the great rice plain west of the capital), and also in the plain of Tsienimparihy in Betsileo, and especially the recent deposits of Ampasambazimba, north-west of Lake Itasy, discovered in 1902.
(2) Central: the districts of Tsimihety and the Sihanaka; Imerina, the Hova province; the Betsileo; the Tanala or foresters; the Bara; and the emigrant Tanosy.
There are no distinctly marked boundaries between any of these tribal territories; and west of Imerina and Betsileo there is a considerable extent of country with hardly any population, a kind of " no-man'sland."
The houses of the Betsileo and Sakalava are very small and dirty, but those of the coast peoples are more cleanly and roomy.
Among the Hova and Betsileo the old villages were always built for security on the summits of lofty hills, around which were dug several deep fosses, one within the other.
Parts of Imerina, in the Betsileo and Antsihanaka provinces, and at the ports of Tamatave, Majunga and Farafangana (south-east coast).
With a representative church at the capital, the chief work of these missions is in the Vakinankaratra district (south-west of Imerina), in the Betsileo province, and on the south-east and south-west coasts; in these places they have a large number of converts and (until lately) schools.