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 king Andrianampoinimerina ruled the Merina Kingdom, the most powerful kingdom ever.
The Merina people are of Malayo-Polynesian origin, which reflects in their appearance: they have light brown to very dark skin colour 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.