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The Mahafaly are an ethnic group of Madagascar that inhabit the plains of the Betioky-Ampanihy area. Their name means either “those who make holy” or “those who make happy”, although the former is considered more likely by linguists. In 2013 there were an estimated 150,000 Mahafaly in Madagascar. The Mahafaly are believed to have arrived in Madagascar from southeastern Africa around the 12th century. They became known for the large tombs they built to honor dead chiefs and kings. Mainly involved in farming and cattle raising, they speak a dialect of the Malagasy language, which is a branch of the Malayo-Polynesian language group.