The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Map of Mayotte.
Map of Mayotte.
Mayotte is an overseas collectivity of France at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean, between northern Madagascar and northern Mozambique, in the Comoros Archipelago. It is also known as Mahoré, especially by advocates of its inclusion in the Union of Comoros. It has an Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) of .yt.


Mayotte was ceded to France along with the other Comoros in 1843. For the history of Mayotte before 1974 see History of the Comoros. It was the only island in the archipelago that voted in referendums in 1974 and 1976 to retain its link with France and forgo independence (with 63.8% and 99.4% of votes respectively). The Comoros continue to claim the island, and a draft 1976 United Nations Security Council resolution supported by 14 of the 15 members of the Council would have recognized Comoros sovereignty over Mayotte, but France vetoed the resolution (the last time, as of 2004, France cast a lone veto in the Council).

The situation of Mayotte proved to be unwieldy for France: while the local population very largely did not want to be independent from France and join Comoros, some international criticism was heard about the ongoing ties of Mayotte to France. Furthermore, the peculiar local administration of Mayotte, largely ruled by customary Muslim law, would be difficult to integrate into the legal structures of France, not to mention the costs of bringing the standards of living to levels close to those of metropolitan France. Because of these reasons, the laws passed by the national parliament must state specifically that they apply to Mayotte for them to be applicable on Mayotte.

The status of Mayotte was changed in 2001 towards one very close to the status of the départements of mainland France, although the island is still claimed by the Comoros. This change was approved by 73% at a referendum on Mayotte.


The main island, Mahoré (or Grand Terre), is geologically the oldest of the Comoros. It is 39 km long and 22 km wide, and its highest points are between 500 and 600 meters above sea level. Because of the volcanic rock, the soil is relatively rich in some areas. A coral reef encircling much of the island ensures protection for ships and a habitat for fish.

Dzaoudzi was the capital of Comoros until 1962 and now is Mayotte's administrative center. It is situated on Île Pamanzi (or Petit Terre), which at 10 km² is the largest of several islets adjacent to Mahoré, to which it is linked by a causeway.


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Last updated: 06-02-2005 12:27:07
Last updated: 09-03-2005 18:37:12