Along to the north-south axis of Madagascar, the Central Highlands reach altitudes of 1,000 meters (max. 2,658 m). Antananarivo, the capital of the state, is located in the Highlands too. The mountains block the wet trade wind, which brings much rain to the eastern region and little rain to the western region of the island.
In the eastern lowlands, rain forest is present (though often cleared or modified for agriculture). The Mist Forest grows at the edge of the highland, which the trade wind reaches after losing much humidity. The remaining humidity, however, condenses into the mist in the face of a cold air mass over the highland, and nourishes the forest.
The Mist Forest doesn't have as much biomass as rainforest, yet it appears much more important as a resource for local people. In this region, for example, wooden houses of about three to five meters height are found. Such big wooden houses cannot be found anywhere else in Madagascar.
Wooden houses, once dominant in the highland at least, began to decrease in number in the 19th century, when new materials such as brick were introduced. In rainforest areas there were originally not many wooden houses because lighter vegetal materials are available: bamboo, raffia leafstalks, traveller's palms, and many other plants. The Mist Forest is one of the few areas in Madagascar where people still have a close relation with the forest.