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Merina literally means ''People of the Highlands''. This clan lives in the central highlands, the most developed area of Madagascar. 95% of the population of Antananarivo are Merina. In the 18th century the Merina king
[http://www.madacamp.com/Andrianampoinimerina_-_King_of_Merina_Kingdom Andrianampoinimerina] conquered nearly all of Madagascar, creating the most powerful kingdom ever.
The Merina people are of Malayo-Polynesian origin, which reflects in their appearance: their skin colour varies from light brown to very dark and their hair is straight. Most Merina houses are built of bricks and mud, sometimes even two-storeyed. Almost each village has a church, often even two: Catholic and Protestant. The Merina are rice farmers. [[Famadihana]] - the ''turning of the bones'' - is a Merina custom.