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Merina literally means ''People of the highlands'' or ''Those from the country where one can see far''. This clan lives in the central highlands, the most developed area of Madagascar. The Merina represent more than one-quarter of the total population. 95% of the population of [[Antananarivo]] are Merina. In the 18th century the Merina king [[Andrianampoinimerina - King of Merina Kingdom|Andrianampoinimerina]] conquered nearly all of Madagascar, creating the most powerful Merina 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. Historically the Merina are divided in three castes: the Andriana (nobles), the Hova (freemen) and the Andevo (serfs). Legally those divisions do not longer exist.