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The Union of Comoros (until 2002 the Islamic Federal Republic of the Comoros) is an independent country at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean, between northern Madagascar and northern Mozambique. The country consists of three volcanic islands: Grande Comore, Moheli and Anjouan, while the nearby island of Mayotte is claimed by Comoros but declined independence from France.

Union des Comores
Udzima wa Komori
الاتحاد القمر
Flag of Comoros Comoros: Coat of Arms
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: Unité - Justice - Progrès (French, "Unity, justice, progress")
Location of Comoros
Official language Shikomor, Arabic, French
Capital Moroni
President Col. Azali Assoumani
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 167th
2,170 km²

 - Total (2002)

 - Density
Ranked 158th



 - Declared

 - Recognised
From France


Currency Comoran franc
Time zone UTC +3
National anthem Udzima wa ya Masiwa
Internet TLD .km
Calling Code 269


Main article: History of Comoros

Over the centuries, the islands of Comoros were invaded by a succession of diverse groups from the coast of Africa, the Persian Gulf, Indonesia, and Madagascar. Portuguese explorers visited the archipelago in 1505.

Between 1841 and 1912, France established colonial rule and placed the islands under the administration of the governor general of Madagascar. Later, French settlers, French-owned companies, and wealthy Arab merchants established a plantation-based economy that now uses about one-third of the land for export crops. Agreement was reached with France in 1973 for Comoros to become independent in 1978. On July 6, 1975, however, the Comorian parliament passed a resolution declaring independence. The deputies of Mayotte, which stayed under French control, abstained. In two referendums, in December 1974 and February 1976, the population of Mayotte voted against independence from France (by 63.8% and 99.4% respectively).

In 1997, the islands of Anjouan and Moheli declared their independence from Comoros. A subsequent attempt by the government to reestablish control over the rebellious islands by force failed, and presently the African Union is brokering negotiations to effect a reconciliation.


Main article: Politics of Comoros

The political situation in Comoros has been extremely fluid since the country's independence in 1975, subject to the volatility of coups and political insurrection.

Colonel Azali Assoumani seized power in a bloodless coup in April 1999, overthrowing Interim President Tadjiddine Ben Said Massounde , who himself had held the office since the strange death of democratically elected President Mohamed Taki Abdoulkarim in November, 1998.

In May 1999, Azali decreed a constitution that gave him both executive and legislative powers. Bowing somewhat to international criticism, Azali appointed a civilian Prime Minister, Bainrifi Tarmidi , in December 1999; however, Azali retained the mantle of Head of State and army Commander. In December 2000, Azali named a new civilian Prime Minister, Hamada Madi , and formed a new civilian Cabinet.

On February 17, 2000, representatives of the government, the Anjouan separatists, the political opposition, and civil society organizations signed a "Framework Accord for Reconciliation in Comoros," brokered by the Organization for African Unity (OAU). The accord called to develop a "New Comorian Entity" with a new constitution.

The constitution gives Moheli, Anjouan and Grande Comore the right to govern most of their own affairs with their own presidents. In addition, a federal president and parliament sit on the largest island, Grande Comore. This federal presidency is rotated between the islands' presidents. General elections were held in 2004, in which federal president Azali suffered a major setback by only winning 6 of the 18 seats in the National assembly, the other going to the supporters of the presidents of the semi-autonomous islands.


Main article: Geography of Comoros

Map of Comoros

Comoros is formed by three of the four main islands in the Comoros Archipelago; the fourth is the French territory of Mayotte. The archipelago is situated in the Indian Ocean, between the African coast and Madagascar. The interior of the volcanic islands vary from steep mountains to low hills. Le Karthala (2316 m) on Grand Comore is an active volcano.


Main article: Economy of Comoros

Comoros is one of the poorest countries in the world. Agriculture, including fishing, hunting, and forestry, is the leading sector of the economy.

Comoros has inadequate transportation system, a young and rapidly increasing population, and few natural resources. The low educational level of the labor force contributes to a subsistence level of economic activity, high unemployment, and a heavy dependence on foreign grants and technical assistance. Agriculture contributes 40% to GDP, employs 80% of the labor force, and provides most of the exports.

The government is struggling to upgrade education and technical training, to privatize commercial and industrial enterprises, to improve health services, to diversify exports, to promote tourism, and to reduce the high population growth rate.


Main article: Demographics of Comoros

The Comorians inhabiting Grande Comore, Anjouan, and Moheli (86% of the population) share African-Arab origins. Islam is the dominant religion, and Koranic schools for children reinforce its influence. Although Arab culture is firmly established throughout the archipelago, a substantial minority of the citizens of Mayotte (the Mahorais) are Catholic and have been strongly influenced by French culture.

The most common language is Shikomor, a Swahili dialect. French , Arabic and malagasy also are spoken. About 57% of the population is literate with latin letters, more with arabian letters.


Main article: Culture of Comoros

See also:

Miscellaneous topics

External links

  • U.S. State Dep. Background on Comoros
  • Republican party of Comoros
  • The islands of Comoros
  • Report from IRIN (UN office for the coördination of Humanitarian Affairs)
  • - First information website on Comoros - Association MWEZINET "La passion des Comores"

Countries in Africa

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Other areas: Canary Islands | Mayotte | Réunion | Saint Helena | Western Sahara

Last updated: 02-05-2005 20:59:40
Last updated: 02-25-2005 00:55:03