Comoros

Comoros

Overview
The Comoros officially the Union of the Comoros (Comorian
Comorian language
Comorian is the most widely used language on the Comoros and Mayotte. It is a set of Swahili dialects but with a much stronger Arabic influence than standard Swahili...

: Udzima wa Komori, , ) is an archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 island nation
Island nation
An island country is a state whose primary territory consists of one or more islands or parts of islands. As of 2011, 47 of the 193 UN member states are island countries.-Politics:...

 in the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

, located off the eastern coast of Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, on the northern end of the Mozambique Channel
Mozambique Channel
The Mozambique Channel is a portion of the Indian Ocean located between the island nation of Madagascar and southeast Africa, primarily the country of Mozambique. It was a World War II clashpoint during the Battle of Madagascar...

, between northeastern Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

 and northwestern Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

. Other countries
Country
A country is a region legally identified as a distinct entity in political geography. A country may be an independent sovereign state or one that is occupied by another state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with a previously...

 near to the Comoros are Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

 to the northwest and the Seychelles
Seychelles
Seychelles , officially the Republic of Seychelles , is an island country spanning an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, some east of mainland Africa, northeast of the island of Madagascar....

 to the northeast. The capital is Moroni
Moroni, Comoros
-References:...

 on Grande Comore
Grande Comore
Grande Comore is an island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa. It is the largest island in the Comoros nation. Most of its population is of the Comorian ethnic group. Its population as of 2006 is about 316,600. The island's capital is Moroni, which is also the national capital...

.

At 1862 square kilometre (excluding Mayotte
Mayotte
Mayotte is an overseas department and region of France consisting of a main island, Grande-Terre , a smaller island, Petite-Terre , and several islets around these two. The archipelago is located in the northern Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean, namely between northwestern Madagascar and...

), the Comoros is the third-smallest African nation by area.
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Encyclopedia
The Comoros officially the Union of the Comoros (Comorian
Comorian language
Comorian is the most widely used language on the Comoros and Mayotte. It is a set of Swahili dialects but with a much stronger Arabic influence than standard Swahili...

: Udzima wa Komori, , ) is an archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 island nation
Island nation
An island country is a state whose primary territory consists of one or more islands or parts of islands. As of 2011, 47 of the 193 UN member states are island countries.-Politics:...

 in the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

, located off the eastern coast of Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, on the northern end of the Mozambique Channel
Mozambique Channel
The Mozambique Channel is a portion of the Indian Ocean located between the island nation of Madagascar and southeast Africa, primarily the country of Mozambique. It was a World War II clashpoint during the Battle of Madagascar...

, between northeastern Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

 and northwestern Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

. Other countries
Country
A country is a region legally identified as a distinct entity in political geography. A country may be an independent sovereign state or one that is occupied by another state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with a previously...

 near to the Comoros are Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

 to the northwest and the Seychelles
Seychelles
Seychelles , officially the Republic of Seychelles , is an island country spanning an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, some east of mainland Africa, northeast of the island of Madagascar....

 to the northeast. The capital is Moroni
Moroni, Comoros
-References:...

 on Grande Comore
Grande Comore
Grande Comore is an island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa. It is the largest island in the Comoros nation. Most of its population is of the Comorian ethnic group. Its population as of 2006 is about 316,600. The island's capital is Moroni, which is also the national capital...

.

At 1862 square kilometre (excluding Mayotte
Mayotte
Mayotte is an overseas department and region of France consisting of a main island, Grande-Terre , a smaller island, Petite-Terre , and several islets around these two. The archipelago is located in the northern Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean, namely between northwestern Madagascar and...

), the Comoros is the third-smallest African nation by area. With a population
Population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...

 estimated at 798,000 (excluding Mayotte
Mayotte
Mayotte is an overseas department and region of France consisting of a main island, Grande-Terre , a smaller island, Petite-Terre , and several islets around these two. The archipelago is located in the northern Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean, namely between northwestern Madagascar and...

). Its name derives from the Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 word ("moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

"). The archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 is notable for its diverse culture and history, as a nation formed at the crossroads of many civilizations. It is the southernmost member state of the Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

. Though in the contested island of Mayotte the sole official language is French, the "Union of the Comoros" has three official languages: Comorian
Comorian language
Comorian is the most widely used language on the Comoros and Mayotte. It is a set of Swahili dialects but with a much stronger Arabic influence than standard Swahili...

, Arabic, and French.

The country officially consists of the four islands in the volcanic Comoros archipelago: northwesternmost Grande Comore
Grande Comore
Grande Comore is an island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa. It is the largest island in the Comoros nation. Most of its population is of the Comorian ethnic group. Its population as of 2006 is about 316,600. The island's capital is Moroni, which is also the national capital...

 or Ngazidja, Mohéli
Mohéli
Mohéli, also known as Mwali, is one of the three islands which make up the nation of Comoros. Mohéli is located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa. It is by far the smallest of the Comoros islands. Its population, as of 2006, is about 38,000. Its capital city is Fomboni...

 or Mwali, Anjouan
Anjouan
Anjouan is an autonomous island, part of the Union of Comoros. The island is located in the Indian Ocean. Its capital is Mutsamudu and its population as of 2006 is about 277,500. The total area of the island is 424 sq. kilometers Anjouan (also known as Ndzuwani or Nzwani) is an autonomous island,...

 or Nzwani, and southeasternmost Mayotte
Mayotte
Mayotte is an overseas department and region of France consisting of a main island, Grande-Terre , a smaller island, Petite-Terre , and several islets around these two. The archipelago is located in the northern Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean, namely between northwestern Madagascar and...

 or Maore, as well as many smaller islands. However, the government of the Comoros (or its predecessors, since independence) has never administered the island of Mayotte, which France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 administers as an overseas department. Mayotte was the only island in the archipelago that voted against independence from France in 1974; the latter has veto
Veto
A veto, Latin for "I forbid", is the power of an officer of the state to unilaterally stop an official action, especially enactment of a piece of legislation...

ed United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 resolutions that would affirm Comorian sovereignty
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 over the island. In addition, a 29 March 2009 referendum
Referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

 on Mayotte's becoming an overseas department of France in 2011 was passed overwhelmingly by the people of Mayotte.

The Comoros is the only state to be a member of all of the following: African Union
African Union
The African Union is a union consisting of 54 African states. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established on 9 July 2002, the AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity...

, Francophonie, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

, and Indian Ocean Commission
Indian Ocean Commission
The Indian Ocean Commission , known as the Commission de l'Océan Indien in French, is an intergovernmental organization that joins Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, France , and the Seychelles together to encourage cooperation. It was started in January 1984 under the General Victoria Agreement...

. The country has had a history marked by numerous coups d'état since independence
Independence
Independence is a condition of a nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory....

 in 1975. As of 2008 about half the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.

Precolonial inhabitation





The first human inhabitants of the Comoros Islands are thought to have been Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

n and Austronesian settlers who traveled to the islands by boat. These people arrived no later than the sixth century AD, the date of the earliest known archaeological site, found on Nzwani, although settlement beginning as early as the first century has been postulated. The islands of Comoros became populated by a succession of diverse groups from the coast of Africa, the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

, the Malay Archipelago
Malay Archipelago
The Malay Archipelago refers to the archipelago between mainland Southeastern Asia and Australia. The name was derived from the anachronistic concept of a Malay race....

, and Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

. Swahili
Swahili people
The Swahili people are a Bantu ethnic group and culture found in East Africa, mainly in the coastal regions and the islands of Kenya, Tanzania and north Mozambique. According to JoshuaProject, the Swahili number in at around 1,328,000. The name Swahili is derived from the Arabic word Sawahil,...

 settlers first reached the islands as a part of the greater Bantu expansion
Bantu expansion
The Bantu expansion or the Bantu Migration was a millennia-long series of migrations of speakers of the original proto-Bantu language group...

 that took place in Africa throughout the first millennium.

According to a famous pre-Islamic mythology: A jinni (possibly Spirit) dropped a jewel
Gemstone
A gemstone or gem is a piece of mineral, which, in cut and polished form, is used to make jewelry or other adornments...

, which formed a great circular inferno. This became the Kartala volcano which, created the island of Comoros. The early inhabitants of the islands worshiped nature and most probably the moon which they believed controlled the tides, these beliefs unified the islands.

Development of the Comoros is divided into phases, beginning with Swahili influence and settlement in the Dembeni phase (ninth to tenth centuries), during which each island maintained a single, central village. From the eleventh to the fifteenth centuries, trade with the island of Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

 and merchants from the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 flourished, smaller villages emerged, and existing towns expanded. The citizens of the Comoros state that early Arab settlements date to even before their known arrival to the archipelago, and Swahili historians frequently trace genealogies back to Arab ancestors who had traveled from Yemen mainly Hadhramawt and Oman.

In the year 933 Al-Masudi
Al-Masudi
Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn Ali al-Mas'udi , was an Arab historian and geographer, known as the "Herodotus of the Arabs." Al-Masudi was one of the first to combine history and scientific geography in a large-scale work, Muruj adh-dhahab...

 mentions Omani
Omani
Omani may refer to:* Something of, from, or related to Oman, an Arab coujntry in southwestern Asia** A person from Oman or of Omani descent, collectively referred to as Omanis; see Demographics of Oman and Culture of Oman...

 sailors, who call the Comoros islands "The Perfume Islands" and sing of waves that break rhythmically along broad, pearl-sand beaches, the light breezes scented with Vanilla
Vanilla
Vanilla is a flavoring derived from orchids of the genus Vanilla, primarily from the Mexican species, Flat-leaved Vanilla . The word vanilla derives from the Spanish word "", little pod...

 and ylang-ylang
Ylang-ylang
Cananga odorata, commonly called Ylang-ylang , cananga tree, ilang-ilang, kenanga , fragrant cananga, Macassar-oil plant or perfume tree),is a tree valued for its perfume...

, a component in many perfumes.

In 1154, Arab geographer al-Idrisi depicted the Comoros on a map and mentioned how its sailors sold metal tools for gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 and ivory
Ivory
Ivory is a term for dentine, which constitutes the bulk of the teeth and tusks of animals, when used as a material for art or manufacturing. Ivory has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes, joint tubes, piano keys and...

 in East Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

; he considered the island more stable and individually prosperous than the busy coastal ports of Mombasa
Mombasa
Mombasa is the second-largest city in Kenya. Lying next to the Indian Ocean, it has a major port and an international airport. The city also serves as the centre of the coastal tourism industry....

, Zanzibar
Zanzibar
Zanzibar ,Persian: زنگبار, from suffix bār: "coast" and Zangi: "bruin" ; is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, in East Africa. It comprises the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of the mainland, and consists of numerous small islands and two large ones: Unguja , and Pemba...

, Kilwa
Kilwa Masoko
Kilwa Masoko is a port town in eastern Tanzania. It is located at around .Kilwa Masoko is the site of very impressive ruins from the Ottoman Arab dynasties....

 and Kitao. In the 15th century, the Arab seafarer Ahmad ibn Majid drew the individual routes among these islands.

Medieval Comoros


According to legend, in 632, upon hearing of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, islanders are said to have dispatched an emissary, the navigator Qumralu, to Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

—but by the time he arrived there, the Prophet Muhammad had died. Nonetheless, after a stay in Mecca, he returned to Qanbalu and led the gradual conversion of his islanders to Islam.

Some of the earliest accounts on the island of Comoros were derived from the works of Al-Masudi, that mentions the importance of the Comoro Islands, like other coastal areas in the region, along early Islamic trade routes and how the islands were frequently visited by Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s including Persian and Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 merchants and sailors from Basra
Basra
Basra is the capital of Basra Governorate, in southern Iraq near Kuwait and Iran. It had an estimated population of two million as of 2009...

 in search of coral
Coral
Corals are marine animals in class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria typically living in compact colonies of many identical individual "polyps". The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.A coral "head" is a colony of...

, vanilla
Vanilla
Vanilla is a flavoring derived from orchids of the genus Vanilla, primarily from the Mexican species, Flat-leaved Vanilla . The word vanilla derives from the Spanish word "", little pod...

, ylang-ylang
Ylang-ylang
Cananga odorata, commonly called Ylang-ylang , cananga tree, ilang-ilang, kenanga , fragrant cananga, Macassar-oil plant or perfume tree),is a tree valued for its perfume...

, ivory
Ivory
Ivory is a term for dentine, which constitutes the bulk of the teeth and tusks of animals, when used as a material for art or manufacturing. Ivory has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes, joint tubes, piano keys and...

, bead
Bead
A bead is a small, decorative object that is usually pierced for threading or stringing. Beads range in size from under to over in diameter. A pair of beads made from Nassarius sea snail shells, approximately 100,000 years old, are thought to be the earliest known examples of jewellery. Beadwork...

s, spice
Spice
A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetative substance used in nutritionally insignificant quantities as a food additive for flavor, color, or as a preservative that kills harmful bacteria or prevents their growth. It may be used to flavour a dish or to hide other flavours...

s, gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

, they also brought Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 to the people of the Zanj
Zanj
Zanj was a name used by medieval Arab geographers to refer to both a certain portion of the coast of East Africa and its inhabitants, Bantu-speaking peoples called the Zanj...

 including Comoros. As the importance of Comoros grew along the East African coast small mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

s and large mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

s were constructed. Despite its distance from the coast, Comoros is situated along the Swahili Coast in East Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

. It was a major hub of trade and an important location in the sea route between Kilwa
Kilwa Masoko
Kilwa Masoko is a port town in eastern Tanzania. It is located at around .Kilwa Masoko is the site of very impressive ruins from the Ottoman Arab dynasties....

 (an outlet for Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in the southern part of the African continent, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia and a tip of Namibia to the northwest and Mozambique to the east. Zimbabwe has three...

an gold) in Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

 and Mombasa
Mombasa
Mombasa is the second-largest city in Kenya. Lying next to the Indian Ocean, it has a major port and an international airport. The city also serves as the centre of the coastal tourism industry....

 in Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

.

After the arrival of the Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 and the collapse of East African sultanates, the powerful Omani Sultan Saif bin Sultan
Saif Bin Sultan
Saif Bin Sultan was one of the most famous Imams of the ibadi sect in Oman. He ruled from the year 1690 to the year 1707. He led the Omani navy to big victories over the Dutch and Portuguese in India and east Africa. He was named the "chain of earth" for his bravery....

 began to defeat the Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 and the Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

. His successor Said bin Sultan
Said bin Sultan, Sultan of Muscat and Oman
Said bin Sultan Al-Said was Sultan of Muscat and Oman from November 20, 1804 to June 4, 1856. He became joint ruler of the country along with his brother Salim on the death of their father, Sultan bin Ahmad, in 1804...

 increased Omani Arab influence in region especially when nearby Zanzibar
Zanzibar
Zanzibar ,Persian: زنگبار, from suffix bār: "coast" and Zangi: "bruin" ; is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, in East Africa. It comprises the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of the mainland, and consists of numerous small islands and two large ones: Unguja , and Pemba...

 came under Oman
Oman
Oman , officially called the Sultanate of Oman , is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the...

i rule, and Comorian culture, especially architecture and religion also inhibited features that were unique to the plurality of the region. Sultans on the Comoros
Sultans on the Comoros
Several Sultanates on the Comoros, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean with an ethnically complex mix, were founded after the introduction of Islam into the area in the 15th century. Other uses depending on the island could also be styled fani, mfaume and ntibe. Unlike sultans in many other Arab...

 a large community of rival rulers controlled much of the islands in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

By the time Europeans showed interest in the Comoros, the traditional Muslim, Swahili
Swahili people
The Swahili people are a Bantu ethnic group and culture found in East Africa, mainly in the coastal regions and the islands of Kenya, Tanzania and north Mozambique. According to JoshuaProject, the Swahili number in at around 1,328,000. The name Swahili is derived from the Arabic word Sawahil,...

 and Arab heritage islands began to adopt to the changes introduced by European colonization. More recent western scholarship by Thomas Spear and Randall Pouwells emphasizes black African historical predominance over the diffusionist perspective.

European contact and French colonization




Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 explorers first visited the archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 in 1505.

By the year 1506 the Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 landed on the islands and began to challenge the Bajas (Bantu Muslim chiefs) and Fanis (lesser chiefs). In the years that followed the islands were sacked by the forces of Afonso de Albuquerque
Afonso de Albuquerque
Afonso de Albuquerque[p][n] was a Portuguese fidalgo, or nobleman, an admiral whose military and administrative activities as second governor of Portuguese India conquered and established the Portuguese colonial empire in the Indian Ocean...

 in the year 1514 by the Portuguese. The ruler of the Comoran Muslims barely survived after hiding in an extinct volcanic crater and despite the inadequacy of their cover, the Portuguese miraculously never found them. In the year 1648 the islands were raided by the Malagasy
Malagasy people
The Malagasy ethnic group forms nearly the entire population of Madagascar. They are divided into two subgroups: the "Highlander" Merina, Sihanaka and Betsileo of the central plateau around Antananarivo, Alaotra and Fianarantsoa, and the côtiers elsewhere in the country. This division has its...

 pirates, they sacked Iconi, a coastal trading hub near Ngazidja after defeating the weak Sultan.

In 1793, Malagasy
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

 warriors from Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

 first started raiding the islands for slaves, and later settled and seized control in many locations. On Comoros, it was estimated in 1865 that as much as 40% of the population consisted of slaves. France first established colonial
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

 rule in the Comoros in 1841. The first French colonists landed in Mayotte, and Andrian Tsouli, the Malagasy King of Mayotte, signed the Treaty of April 1841, which ceded the island to the French authorities.

In 1886, Mohéli was placed under French protection by its Queen Salima Machimba. That same year, after consolidating his authority over all of Grande Comore, Sultan Said Ali agreed to French protection of his island, though he retained sovereignty until 1909. Also in 1909, Sultan Said Muhamed of Anjouan abdicated in favor of French rule. The Comoros (or Les Comores) was officially made a French colony in 1912, and the islands were placed under the administration of the French colonial governor general of Madagascar in 1914.

The Comoros served as a way station for merchants sailing to the Far East and India until the opening of the Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

 significantly reduced traffic passing through the Mozambique Channel. The native commodities exported by the Comoros were coconut
Coconut
The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae . It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word...

s, cattle and tortoiseshell. 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. After its annexation, France converted Mayotte into a sugar plantation colony. The other islands were soon transformed as well, and the major crops of ylang-ylang
Ylang-ylang
Cananga odorata, commonly called Ylang-ylang , cananga tree, ilang-ilang, kenanga , fragrant cananga, Macassar-oil plant or perfume tree),is a tree valued for its perfume...

, vanilla
Vanilla
Vanilla is a flavoring derived from orchids of the genus Vanilla, primarily from the Mexican species, Flat-leaved Vanilla . The word vanilla derives from the Spanish word "", little pod...

, coffee
Coffee
Coffee is a brewed beverage with a dark,init brooo acidic flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia,...

, cocoa bean, and sisal
Sisal
Sisal is an agave that yields a stiff fibre traditionally used in making twine, rope and also dartboards. The term may refer either to the plant or the fibre, depending on context...

 were introduced.

Agreement was reached with France in 1973 for Comoros to become independent in 1978. The deputies of Mayotte
Mayotte
Mayotte is an overseas department and region of France consisting of a main island, Grande-Terre , a smaller island, Petite-Terre , and several islets around these two. The archipelago is located in the northern Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean, namely between northwestern Madagascar and...

 abstained. Referendums were held on all four of the islands. Three voted for independence by large margins, while Mayotte voted against, and remains under French administration. On July 6, 1975, however, the Comorian parliament passed a unilateral resolution declaring independence. Ahmed Abdallah proclaimed the independence of the Comorian State (État comorien; دولة القمر) and became its first president.

Independence


The next 30 years were a period of political turmoil. On 3 August 1975, mercenary Bob Denard
Bob Denard
Colonel Bob Denard , born Gilbert Bourgeaud, was a French soldier and mercenary. He was known for having done various jobs in support of Françafrique for Jacques Foccart, in charge of French president Charles de Gaulle's policy in Africa...

, with clandestine support from Jacques Foccart
Jacques Foccart
Jacques Foccart was a chief adviser for the government of France on African policy as well as the co-founder of the Gaullist Service d'Action Civique in 1959 with Charles Pasqua, which specialized in covert operations in Africa.From 1960 to 1974, he was the President of France's chief of staff...

 and the French government, removed president Ahmed Abdallah
Ahmed Abdallah
Ahmed Abdallah Abderemane was a Comorian politician. He was President of the Comoros from 25 October 1978 until his death.-Life prior to the presidency:...

 from office in an armed coup and replaced him with United National Front of the Comoros (UNF) member Prince Said Mohammed Jaffar. Months later, in January 1976, Jaffar was ousted in favor of his Minister of Defense Ali Soilih
Ali Soilih
Ali Soilih, full name Ali Soilih Mtsashiwa, was a Comorian socialist revolutionary and political figure.-Biography:...

.

At this time, the population of Mayotte voted against independence from France in two referendums. The first
Comorian independence referendum, 1974
An independence referendum was held in the Comoros on 22 December 1974. The overall result was a strong "yes" vote, with 94.57% of voters voting for independence and almost all the "no" votes being cast in Mayotte, where there was a majority for remaining under French control. In contrast, on...

, held in December 1974, won 63.8% support for maintaining ties with France, while the second, held in February 1976, confirmed that vote with an overwhelming 99.4%. The three remaining islands, ruled by President Soilih, instituted a number of socialist
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 and isolationist policies that soon strained relations with France. On 13 May 1978, Bob Denard returned to overthrow President Soilih and reinstate Abdallah with the support of the French and South African governments. During Soilih's brief rule, he faced seven additional coup attempts until he was finally forced from office and killed.

In contrast to Soilih, Abdallah's presidency was marked by authoritarian rule and increased adherence to traditional Islam and the country was renamed the Federal Islamic Republic
Islamic republic
Islamic republic is the name given to several states in the Muslim world including the Islamic Republics of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mauritania. Pakistan adopted the title under the constitution of 1956. Mauritania adopted it on 28 November 1958. Iran adopted it after the 1979 Iranian...

 of Comoros
(République Fédérale Islamique des Comores; جمهورية القمر الإتحادية الإسلامية ). Abdallah continued as president until 1989 when, fearing a probable coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

, he signed a decree ordering the Presidential Guard, led by Bob Denard
Bob Denard
Colonel Bob Denard , born Gilbert Bourgeaud, was a French soldier and mercenary. He was known for having done various jobs in support of Françafrique for Jacques Foccart, in charge of French president Charles de Gaulle's policy in Africa...

, to disarm the armed forces. Shortly after the signing of the decree, Abdallah was allegedly shot dead in his office by a disgruntled military officer, though later sources claim an antitank missile was launched into his bedroom and killed him. Although Denard was also injured, it is suspected that Abdallah's killer was a soldier under his command.

A few days later, Bob Denard was evacuated to South Africa by French paratroopers. Said Mohamed Djohar, Soilih's older half-brother, then became president, and served until September 1995, when Bob Denard returned and attempted another coup. This time France intervened with paratroopers and forced Denard to surrender. The French removed Djohar to Reunion, and the Paris-backed Mohamed Taki Abdulkarim became president by election. He led the country from 1996, during a time of labor crises, government suppression, and secessionist conflicts, until his death November 1998. He was succeeded by Interim President Tadjidine Ben Said Massounde
Tadjidine Ben Said Massounde
Tadjidine Ben Said Massounde was a Comorian politician.Massounde served as Prime Minister from 27 March 1996 to 27 December 1996. After the death of President Mohamed Taki Abdoulkarim on 6 November 1998, he became interim President. His government was overthrown in a 30 April 1999 military coup...

.

The islands of Anjouan
Anjouan
Anjouan is an autonomous island, part of the Union of Comoros. The island is located in the Indian Ocean. Its capital is Mutsamudu and its population as of 2006 is about 277,500. The total area of the island is 424 sq. kilometers Anjouan (also known as Ndzuwani or Nzwani) is an autonomous island,...

 and Mohéli
Mohéli
Mohéli, also known as Mwali, is one of the three islands which make up the nation of Comoros. Mohéli is located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa. It is by far the smallest of the Comoros islands. Its population, as of 2006, is about 38,000. Its capital city is Fomboni...

 declared their independence from the Comoros in 1997, in an attempt to restore French rule. But France rejected their request, leading to bloody confrontations between federal troops and rebels. In April 1999, Colonel Azali Assoumani
Azali Assoumani
Azali Assoumani was a president of the Comoros. He became leader of the country on 30 April 1999 after leading a coup to depose acting president Tadjidine Ben Said Massounde, who he saw as pandering to the independence movement on Anjouan...

, Army Chief of Staff, seized power in a bloodless coup, overthrowing the Interim President Massounde, citing weak leadership in the face of the crisis. This was the Comoros' 18th coup d'état since independence in 1975. Azali, however, failed to consolidate power and reestablish control over the islands, which was the subject of international criticism. The African Union
African Union
The African Union is a union consisting of 54 African states. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established on 9 July 2002, the AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity...

, under the auspices of President Thabo Mbeki
Thabo Mbeki
Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki is a South African politician who served two terms as the second post-apartheid President of South Africa from 14 June 1999 to 24 September 2008. He is also the brother of Moeletsi Mbeki...

 of South Africa, imposed sanctions on Anjouan to help broker negotiations and effect reconciliation. The official name of the country was changed to the Union of the Comoros and a new system of political autonomy was instituted for each island, plus a union government for the three islands was added.

Azali stepped down in 2002 to run in the democratic election of the President of the Comoros, which he won. Under ongoing international pressure, as a military ruler who had originally come to power by force, and was not always democratic while in office, Azali led the Comoros through constitutional changes that enabled new elections. A Loi des compétences law was passed in early 2005 that defines the responsibilities of each governmental body, and is in the process of implementation. The elections in 2006 were won by Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi
Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi
Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi is a Comorian Islamic leader and politician, and former President of Comoros. He is popularly known as 'Ayatollah'. After easily winning the 14 May 2006 presidential election with 58.02% of the national vote, Sambi was inaugurated as President of the Union of the...

, a Sunni Muslim cleric nicknamed the "Ayatollah" for his time spent studying Islam in Iran. Azali honored the election results, thus allowing the first peaceful and democratic exchange of power for the archipelago.

Colonel Mohammed Bacar, a French-trained former gendarme, seized power as President in Anjouan in 2001. He staged a vote in June 2007 to confirm his leadership that was rejected as illegal by the Comoros federal government and the African Union. On March 25, 2008 hundreds of soldiers from the African Union and Comoros seized rebel-held Anjouan, generally welcomed by the population: there have been reports of hundreds, if not thousands, of people tortured during Bacar’s tenure.
Some rebels were killed and injured, but there are no official figures. At least 11 civilians were wounded. Some officials were imprisoned. Bacar fled in a speedboat to the French Indian Ocean territory of Mayotte to seek asylum. Anti-French protests followed in Comoros (see 2008 invasion of Anjouan
2008 invasion of Anjouan
The invasion of Anjouan , on March 25, 2008, was an amphibious assault led by the Comoros, backed by African Union forces, including troops from Sudan, Tanzania, Senegal, along with logistical support from Libya and France...

).

Since independence from France, the Comoros experienced more than 20 coups or attempted coups.

Geography


The Comoros is formed by Ngazidja (Grande Comore), Mwali (Mohéli), Nzwani (Anjouan), and Maore (Mayotte), the major islands in the Comoros Archipelago, as well as many minor islets. The islands are officially known by their Comorian language names, though international sources still use their French names (given in parentheses above). The capital and largest city, Moroni
Moroni, Comoros
-References:...

, is located on Ngazidja. The archipelago is situated in the Indian Ocean, in the Mozambique Channel
Mozambique Channel
The Mozambique Channel is a portion of the Indian Ocean located between the island nation of Madagascar and southeast Africa, primarily the country of Mozambique. It was a World War II clashpoint during the Battle of Madagascar...

, between the African coast (nearest to Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

 and Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

) and Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

, with no land borders.

At 2235 square kilometre, it is one of the smallest countries in the world. The Comoros also has claim to 320 km² (123.6 sq mi) of territorial seas. The interiors of the islands vary from steep mountains to low hills. The climate is generally tropical and mild, and the two major seasons are distinguishable by their relative raininess. The temperature reaches an average of 29–30 °C (84.2–86 F) in March, the hottest month in the rainy season (called kashkazi, December to April), and an average low of 19 °C (66.2 °F) in the cool, dry season (kusi, May to November). The islands are rarely subject to cyclones.

Ngazidja is the largest of the Comoros Archipelago, approximately equal in area to the other islands combined. It is also the most recent island, and therefore has rocky soil. The island's two volcanoes, Karthala (active) and La Grille
La Grille
La Grille is a volcano in the Comoros is located in the Comoros archipelago on the island of Grande Comore .La Grille is a shield volcano at the northern end of island and lacks a summit caldera like its larger and more well-known neighbor to the south, Karthala volcano...

 (dormant), and the lack of good harbors are distinctive characteristics of its terrain. Mwali, with its capital at Fomboni
Fomboni
Fomboni is the third largest city in the Comoros. It is also the capital and largest city on the island of Mohéli. Characterized as quiet, it is home to an old market and a jetty....

, is the smallest of the four major islands. Nzwani, whose capital is Mutsamudu
Mutsamudu
Mutsamudu is the second largest city in the Comoros, founded in 1482. It is also the capital and largest city on the island of Anjouan as well the former home of the current Comoron Union president Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi...

, has a distinctive triangular shape caused by three mountain chains, Sima, Nioumakele, and Jimilime, emanating from a central peak, Ntringi (1575 m or 5,167.3 ft).

The oldest of the islands, Maore has the richest soil as well as good harbors and local fish populations, due to its ring of coral reefs. Dzaoudzi
Dzaoudzi
Dzaoudzi is a commune in the French overseas department of Mayotte, in the Indian Ocean. The commune of Dzaoudzi , made up of the twin towns of Dzaoudzi and Labattoir, is located on the small island of Petite-Terre...

, the previous capital of all the colonial Comoros, is located on Pamanzi
Pamanzi
Pamanzi, known as Petite-Terre in French, is an island just off Mayotte, and is the second largest island after Mayotte itself. It was once the most important island, with Mayotte's only airport and the capital Dzaoudzi, until 1977 when Mamoudzou was chosen as the new capital. The communes of...

, , the largest islet of Maore. Maore's current capital is at Mamoudzou
Mamoudzou
Mamoudzou is the capital of the French overseas region and department of Mayotte, in the Indian Ocean. Mamoudzou, known as Momoju in the local Shimaore language, is the most populated commune of Mayotte. It is located on Grande-Terre , the main island of Mayotte...

. The term Mayotte (or Maore) may also refer to the group of islands, of which the largest is known as Maore , and it includes Maore's surrounding islands, most notably Pamanzi (Petite-Terre).


The islands of the Comoros Archipelago were formed by volcanic activity. Mount Karthala
Mount Karthala
Karthala is an active volcano and the highest point of the Comoros at above sea level. It is the southernmost and larger of the two shield volcanoes forming Grande Comore island, the largest island in the nation of Comoros. The Karthala volcano is notoriously active, having erupted more than 20...

, an active shield volcano
Shield volcano
A shield volcano is a type of volcano usually built almost entirely of fluid lava flows. They are named for their large size and low profile, resembling a warrior's shield. This is caused by the highly fluid lava they erupt, which travels farther than lava erupted from more explosive volcanoes...

 located on Ngazidja, is the country's highest point, at 2,361 m or 7748 ft (2,361.6 m) It contains the Comoros' largest patch of its disappearing rainforest. Karthala is currently one of the most active volcanoes in the world, with a minor eruption in May 2006, and prior eruptions as recently as April 2005 and 1991. In the 2005 eruption, which lasted from April 17 to 19, 40,000 citizens were evacuated, and the crater lake
Crater lake
A crater lake is a lake that forms in a volcanic crater or caldera, such as a maar; less commonly and with lower association to the term a lake may form in an impact crater caused by a meteorite. Sometimes lakes which form inside calderas are called caldera lakes, but often this distinction is not...

 in the volcano's 3 by caldera was destroyed.

The Comoros also lays claim to the Glorioso Islands
Glorioso Islands
The Glorieuses or Glorioso Islands are a group of French islands and rocks totalling , at , in the northern Mozambique channel, about northwest of Madagascar. The Glorieuses have an Exclusive Economic Zone of...

, comprising Grande Glorieuse, Île du Lys, Wreck Rock, South Rock, Verte Rocks (three islets), and three unnamed islets, one of France's Îles Éparses or Îles éparses de l'océan indien
Scattered islands in the Indian Ocean
The Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean consist of four small coral islands, an atoll, and a reef in the Indian Ocean, and have constituted the 5th district of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands since February 2007. They have no permanent population...

(Scattered islands in the Indian Ocean) possessions. The Glorioso Islands were administered by the colonial Comoros before 1975, and are therefore sometimes considered part of the Comoros Archipelago. Banc du Geyser
Banc du Geyser
Banc du Geyser is a mostly submerged reef in the Mozambique Channel's northeastern part, 125 km northeast from Mayotte, 112 km southwest of the Îles Glorieuses, and 200 km off the northwestern coast of Madagascar, at .The Banc is a dangerous oval-shaped reef 8 km long and...

, a former island in the Comoros Archipelago, now submerged, is geographically located in the Îles Éparses, but was annexed by Madagascar in 1976 as an unclaimed territory. The Comoros now claims it as part of its exclusive economic zone.

The Comoros constitute an ecoregion
Ecoregion
An ecoregion , sometimes called a bioregion, is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than an ecozone and larger than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural...

 in their own right, Comoros forests
Comoros forests
The four Comoros Islands that lie in the Mozambique Channel between Madagascar and East Africa are a unique ecoregion, the Comoros forests.These volcanic islands are rich in wildlife with endemic species including four endangered bird species living on Mount Karthala, the large active volcano on...

.

Government



Politics of the Comoros takes place in a framework of a federal
Federation
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

 presidential
Presidential system
A presidential system is a system of government where an executive branch exists and presides separately from the legislature, to which it is not responsible and which cannot, in normal circumstances, dismiss it....

 republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

, whereby the President of the Comoros is both head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 and head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

, and of a multi-party system
Multi-party system
A multi-party system is a system in which multiple political parties have the capacity to gain control of government separately or in coalition, e.g.The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in the United Kingdom formed in 2010. The effective number of parties in a multi-party system is normally...

. The Constitution of the Union of the Comoros was ratified by referendum on December 23, 2001, and the islands' constitutions and executives were elected in the following months. It had previously been considered a military dictatorship, and the transfer of power from Azali Assoumani to Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi in May 2006 was the first peaceful transfer in Comorian history.

Executive power
Executive Power
Executive Power is Vince Flynn's fifth novel, and the fourth to feature Mitch Rapp, an American agent that works for the CIA as an operative for a covert counter terrorism unit called the "Orion Team."-Plot summary:...

 is exercised by the government. Federal legislative power is vested in both the government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 and parliament. The preamble of the constitution guarantees an Islamic inspiration in governance, a commitment to human rights, and several specific enumerated rights, democracy, "a common destiny" for all Comorians. Each of the islands (according to Title II of the Constitution) has a great amount of autonomy in the Union, including having their own constitutions (or Fundamental Law), president, and Parliament. The presidency and Assembly of the Union are distinct from each of the Islands' governments. The presidency of the Union rotates between the islands. Anjouan holds the current presidency rotation, and so Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi is President of the Union; Mohéli and Ngazidja follow in four year terms.

The Comorian legal system rests on Islamic law, an inherited French (Napoleonic code
Napoleonic code
The Napoleonic Code — or Code Napoléon — is the French civil code, established under Napoléon I in 1804. The code forbade privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and specified that government jobs go to the most qualified...

) legal code, and customary law (mila na ntsi). Village elders, kadis or civilian courts settle most disputes. The judiciary
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

 is independent of the legislative and the executive. The Supreme Court acts as a Constitutional Council in resolving constitutional questions and supervising presidential elections. As High Court of Justice, the Supreme Court also arbitrates in cases where the government is accused of malpractice. The Supreme Court consists of two members selected by the president, two elected by the Federal Assembly, and one by the council of each island.

Around 80 percent of the central government's annual budget is spent on the country’s complex electoral system which provides for a semi-autonomous government and president for each of the three islands and a rotating presidency for the over-arching Union government. A referendum took place on May 16, 2009 to decide whether to cut down the government's unwieldy political bureaucracy. 52.7% of those eligible voted, and 93.8% of votes were cast in approval of the referendum. The referendum would cause each island's president to become a governor and the ministers to become councilors.

As of 2008, Comoros and Mauritania
Mauritania
Mauritania is a country in the Maghreb and West Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the west, by Western Sahara in the north, by Algeria in the northeast, by Mali in the east and southeast, and by Senegal in the southwest...

 are considered by US-based organization Freedom House
Freedom House
Freedom House is an international non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C. that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights...

 as the only real “electoral democracies” of the Arab World
Arab world
The Arab world refers to Arabic-speaking states, territories and populations in North Africa, Western Asia and elsewhere.The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the...

.

Also in 2008, the Comoros were ranked 14th out of 48 sub-Saharan African countries in the Ibrahim Index of African Governance
Ibrahim Index of African Governance
The Ibrahim Index of African Governance is an attempt to statistically monitor African governance levels throughout all the countries of Africa. Funded and led by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, it uses a number of different indicators to compile an overall ranking of countries, which is designed to be...

. The Ibrahim Index is a comprehensive measure of African governance, based on a number of different variables which reflect the success with which governments deliver essential political goods to its citizens.

Military



The military resources of the Comoros consist of a small standing army and a 500-member police force, as well as a 500-member defense force. A defense treaty with France provides naval resources for protection of territorial waters, training of Comorian military personnel, and air surveillance. France maintains few senior officers presence in Comoros at government request. France maintains a small maritime base and a Foreign Legion
French Foreign Legion
The French Foreign Legion is a unique military service wing of the French Army established in 1831. The foreign legion was exclusively created for foreign nationals willing to serve in the French Armed Forces...

 Detachment (DLEM) on Mayotte
Mayotte
Mayotte is an overseas department and region of France consisting of a main island, Grande-Terre , a smaller island, Petite-Terre , and several islets around these two. The archipelago is located in the northern Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean, namely between northwestern Madagascar and...

.

Foreign relations



In November 1975, Comoros became the 143rd member of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

. The new nation was defined as comprising the entire archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

, although France continues to maintain control over the island of Mayotte
Mayotte
Mayotte is an overseas department and region of France consisting of a main island, Grande-Terre , a smaller island, Petite-Terre , and several islets around these two. The archipelago is located in the northern Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean, namely between northwestern Madagascar and...

 as an overseas department. Comoros has repeatedly pressed its claim to the island before the United Nations General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

, which adopted a series of resolutions under the caption "Question of the Comorian Island of Mayotte", opining that Mayotte belongs to Comoros under the principle that the territorial integrity of colonial territories should be preserved upon independence. As a practical matter, however, these resolutions have little effect and there is no foreseeable likelihood that Mayotte will become de facto part of Comoros without its people's consent. More recently, the Assembly has maintained this item on its agenda but deferred it from year to year without taking action. Other bodies, including the UN General Assembly, the Organization of African Unity, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

 and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, have similarly questioned French sovereignty over Mayotte.

Comoros also is a member of the African Union
African Union
The African Union is a union consisting of 54 African states. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established on 9 July 2002, the AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity...

, the Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

, the European Development Fund
European Development Fund
The European Development Fund is the main instrument for European Union aid for development cooperation in Africa, the Caribbean, and Pacific countries and the Overseas Countries and Territories...

, the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

, the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

, the Indian Ocean Commission
Indian Ocean Commission
The Indian Ocean Commission , known as the Commission de l'Océan Indien in French, is an intergovernmental organization that joins Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, France , and the Seychelles together to encourage cooperation. It was started in January 1984 under the General Victoria Agreement...

, and the African Development Bank
African Development Bank
The African Development Bank Group is a development bank established in 1964 with the intention of promoting economic and social development in Africa...

. On April 10, 2008 Comoros became the 179th nation to accept the Kyoto Protocol
Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change , aimed at fighting global warming...

 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Economy



Comoros is one of the world's poorest countries. Economic growth and poverty reduction
Poverty reduction
Poverty is the state of human beings who are poor. That is, they have little or no material means of surviving—little or no food, shelter, clothes, healthcare, education, and other physical means of living and improving one's life....

 are major priorities for the government. With a rate of 14.3%, unemployment is considered very high. Agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

, including fishing
Fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

, hunting
Hunting
Hunting is the practice of pursuing any living thing, usually wildlife, for food, recreation, or trade. In present-day use, the term refers to lawful hunting, as distinguished from poaching, which is the killing, trapping or capture of the hunted species contrary to applicable law...

, and forestry
Forestry
Forestry is the interdisciplinary profession embracing the science, art, and craft of creating, managing, using, and conserving forests and associated resources in a sustainable manner to meet desired goals, needs, and values for human benefit. Forestry is practiced in plantations and natural stands...

, is the leading sector of the economy, and 38.4% of the working population is employed in the primary sector
Primary sector of industry
The sector of an economy making direct use of natural resources. This includes agriculture, forestry and fishing, mining, and extraction of oil and gas. This is contrasted with the secondary sector, producing manufactures and other processed goods, and the tertiary sector, producing services...

. High population densities, as much as 1000 per square kilometer in the densest agricultural zones, for what is still a mostly rural, agricultural economy may lead to an environmental crisis in the near future, especially considering the high rate of population growth. The Comoros' real GDP growth was a low 1.9% in 2004 and real GDP per capita was continuing declining annually in 2004. These declines are explained by factors including declining investment, drops in consumption, rising inflation, and an increase in trade imbalance due in part to lowered cash crop prices, especially vanilla.

Fiscal policy is constrained by erratic fiscal revenues, a bloated civil service wage bill, and an external debt that is far above the HIPC threshold. Membership in the franc zone, the main anchor of stability, has nevertheless helped contain pressures on domestic prices.

Comoros has an 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
Unemployment
Unemployment , as defined by the International Labour Organization, occurs when people are without jobs and they have actively sought work within the past four weeks...

, and a heavy dependence on foreign grants and technical assistance. Agriculture contributes 40% to GDP
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

, employs 80% of the labor force, and provides most of the exports. Comoros is the world's largest producer of ylang-ylang
Ylang-ylang
Cananga odorata, commonly called Ylang-ylang , cananga tree, ilang-ilang, kenanga , fragrant cananga, Macassar-oil plant or perfume tree),is a tree valued for its perfume...

, and a large producer of vanilla
Vanilla
Vanilla is a flavoring derived from orchids of the genus Vanilla, primarily from the Mexican species, Flat-leaved Vanilla . The word vanilla derives from the Spanish word "", little pod...

.

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.

The Comoros claims the Banc du Geyser
Banc du Geyser
Banc du Geyser is a mostly submerged reef in the Mozambique Channel's northeastern part, 125 km northeast from Mayotte, 112 km southwest of the Îles Glorieuses, and 200 km off the northwestern coast of Madagascar, at .The Banc is a dangerous oval-shaped reef 8 km long and...

 and the Glorioso Islands
Glorioso Islands
The Glorieuses or Glorioso Islands are a group of French islands and rocks totalling , at , in the northern Mozambique channel, about northwest of Madagascar. The Glorieuses have an Exclusive Economic Zone of...

 as part of its exclusive economic zone.

Comoros is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA
Ohada
OHADA is a system of business laws and implementing institutions adopted by sixteen West and Central African nations. OHADA is the French acronym for "Organisation pour l'Harmonisation en Afrique du Droit des Affaires", which translates into English as "Organisation for the Harmonization of...

).

Demographics


With fewer than a million people, the Comoros is one of the least populous countries in the world, but is also one of the most densely populated, with an average of 275 PD/km2. In 2001, 34% of the population was considered urban, but that is expected to grow, since rural population growth is negative, while overall population growth is still relatively high. Almost half the population of Comoros is under the age of 15. Major urban centers include Moroni
Moroni, Comoros
-References:...

, Mutsamudu
Mutsamudu
Mutsamudu is the second largest city in the Comoros, founded in 1482. It is also the capital and largest city on the island of Anjouan as well the former home of the current Comoron Union president Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi...

, Domoni
Domoni
Domoni is the second largest city on the Comorian island of Anjouan, located on the east coast of the island.- History :...

, Fomboni
Fomboni
Fomboni is the third largest city in the Comoros. It is also the capital and largest city on the island of Mohéli. Characterized as quiet, it is home to an old market and a jetty....

, and Tsémbéhou. There are between 200,000 and 350,000 Comorians in France.

The islands of the Comoros share mostly African-Arab origins. Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 is the dominant religion
Islam in Comoros
According to the 2006 estimate by the U.S. Department of State, roughly 98% of the population in the Comoros are Muslim. Islam and its institutions have helped to integrate Comorian society and provide identification with a world beyond the islands' shores...

, representing as much as 98% of the population. Although Arab culture is firmly established throughout the archipelago, a minority of the population
Roman Catholicism in Comoros
The Roman Catholic Church in Comoros is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope and Curia in Rome....

 of Mayotte, mostly immigrants from metropolitan France, are Roman Catholic. Malagasy
Malagasy people
The Malagasy ethnic group forms nearly the entire population of Madagascar. They are divided into two subgroups: the "Highlander" Merina, Sihanaka and Betsileo of the central plateau around Antananarivo, Alaotra and Fianarantsoa, and the côtiers elsewhere in the country. This division has its...

 (Christian) and Indian
Ethnic groups of South Asia
The ethno-linguistic composition of the population of South Asia, that is the nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka is highly diverse. The majority of the population fall within two large Linguistic groups, Indo-Aryan and Dravidian.These groups are further...

 (mostly Ismaili) minorities also exist, as well as minorities mostly descended from early French settlers. Chinese people
Chinese people
The term Chinese people may refer to any of the following:*People with Han Chinese ethnicity ....

 are also present on Mayotte and parts of Grande Comore (especially Moroni). A small white minority
White African
White Africans are people of European descent living in Africa, who identify themselves as White....

 of French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

 with other European (i.e. Dutch, British and Portuguese) ancestry lives in Comoros. Most French left after independence in 1975.

The most common language is Comorian
Comorian language
Comorian is the most widely used language on the Comoros and Mayotte. It is a set of Swahili dialects but with a much stronger Arabic influence than standard Swahili...

, or Shikomor, a language related to Swahili
Swahili language
Swahili or Kiswahili is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Mozambique Channel coastline from northern Kenya to northern Mozambique, including the Comoro Islands. It is also spoken by ethnic minority groups in Somalia...

 with a combination of broken Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, four different variants (Shingazidja, Shimwali, Shinzwani, and Shimaore) being spoken on each of the four islands. French and Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 are also official languages, along with Comorian. Arabic is widely known as a second language, being the language of Quranic teaching, and French is the language of all other formal education. A Malagasy language
Malagasy language
Malagasy is the national language of Madagascar, a member of the Austronesian family of languages. Most people in Madagascar speak it as a first language as do some people of Malagasy descent elsewhere.-History:...

, Shibushi, is spoken by approximately a third of the population of Maore. About fifty-seven percent of the population is literate in the Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

 while more than 90% are literate in the Arabic alphabet
Arabic alphabet
The Arabic alphabet or Arabic abjad is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing the Arabic language. It is written from right to left, in a cursive style, and includes 28 letters. Because letters usually stand for consonants, it is classified as an abjad.-Consonants:The Arabic alphabet has...

; total literacy is incorrectly estimated at 62.5%. Comorian has no native script, but both Arabic and Latin scripts are used.

Health



There are 15 physicians per 100,000 persons.
Fertility rate was 4.7 per adult woman in 2004. Life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

 at birth is 67 for females and 62 for males.

Media and culture


Comorian
Comorian language
Comorian is the most widely used language on the Comoros and Mayotte. It is a set of Swahili dialects but with a much stronger Arabic influence than standard Swahili...

  is the most widely used language on the Comoros. It is a close relative of Swahili
Swahili language
Swahili or Kiswahili is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Mozambique Channel coastline from northern Kenya to northern Mozambique, including the Comoro Islands. It is also spoken by ethnic minority groups in Somalia...

; and much of its vocabulary is derived from Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

. It is one of the three official languages of the Comoros, next to French and Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

. Each island has a slightly different dialect; that of Anjouan
Anjouan
Anjouan is an autonomous island, part of the Union of Comoros. The island is located in the Indian Ocean. Its capital is Mutsamudu and its population as of 2006 is about 277,500. The total area of the island is 424 sq. kilometers Anjouan (also known as Ndzuwani or Nzwani) is an autonomous island,...

 is called Shindzwani, that of Moheli Shimwali, that of Mayotte Shimaore
Shimaore language
Maore Comorian, or Shimaore , is one of the two indigenous languages spoken in the French-ruled Comorian islands of Mayotte; Shimaore being a dialect of the Comorian language, while KiBushi is an unrelated Malayo-Polynesian language originally from Madagascar...

, and that of Grande Comore Shingazidja. No official alphabet
Official script
An official script is a writing system that is specifically designated to be official in the constitutions or other applicable laws of countries, states, and other jurisdictions. Akin to an official language, an official script is much rarer. It is used primarily where an official language is in...

 existed in 1992, but Arabic
Arabic alphabet
The Arabic alphabet or Arabic abjad is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing the Arabic language. It is written from right to left, in a cursive style, and includes 28 letters. Because letters usually stand for consonants, it is classified as an abjad.-Consonants:The Arabic alphabet has...

 and Latin
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

 scripts are both used.
There is a government-owned national newspaper
Newspaper
A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

 in Comoros, Al-Watwan, published in Moroni
Moroni, Comoros
-References:...

; Kwezi is also published on Mayotte
Mayotte
Mayotte is an overseas department and region of France consisting of a main island, Grande-Terre , a smaller island, Petite-Terre , and several islets around these two. The archipelago is located in the northern Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean, namely between northwestern Madagascar and...

. Radio Comoros is the national radio service and Comoros National TV is the television service.

Education



Almost all of the educated populace of the Comoros have attended Quranic schools at some point in their lives, often before regular schooling. Here, boys and girls are taught about the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

, and memorize it. Some parents specifically choose this early schooling to offset French schools children usually attend later. Since independence and the ejection of French teachers, the education system has been plagued by poor teacher training and poor results, though recent stability may allow for substantial improvements. In 2000, 44.2 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years were attending school. There is a general lack of facilities, equipment, qualified teachers, textbooks and other resources. Salaries for teachers are often so far in arrears that many refuse to work.

See also



  • Communications in Comoros
    Communications in Comoros
    In large part thanks to international aid programs, Moroni has international telecommunications service. Telephone service, however, is largely limited to the islands' few towns.Communications in ComorosTelephones - main lines in use:5,000...

  • Flag of the Comoros
    Flag of the Comoros
    The current flag of the Union of the Comoros was designed in 2001 and officially adopted on 7 January 2002. It continues to display the crescent and four stars, which is a motiff that has been in use in slightly various forms since 1975 during the independence movement...

  • Heads of state of Comoros
    Heads of state of Comoros
    -List of Heads of State of the Comoros:- Affiliations :-See also:*Comoros**Heads of government of the Comoros**Colonial heads of the Comoros*Lists of office-holders...

  • List of notable Comorians
  • List of current Comorian islands presidents
  • Transportation in Comoros
  • Wezombeli
    Wezombeli
    Wezombeli, the national Scouting organization of the Comoros, was founded in 1975, and became a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1990...

    , boy scouts


Further reading

  • The Comoros Islands: Struggle Against Dependency in the Indian Ocean Malyn Newitt
  • Historical Dictionary of the Comoro Islands Martin and Harriet Ottenheimer
  • Shinzwani-English/English-Shinzwani Dictionary Harriet Ottenheimer
  • Lonely Planet World Guide: Madagascar and Comoros Gemma Pitcher and Patricia C. Wright

External links