The Comoros, officially the Union of the Comoros, is a sovereign archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean. The archipelago is located at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel, which is off the eastern coast of Africa, between the coast of northeastern Mozambique and the coast of northwestern Madagascar. The capital city is Moroni, on Grande Comore.
Excluding the island of Mayotte, the Comoros is 1,862 km2, making it the third smallest African nation based on land mass. The population, again excluding Mayotte, is estimated at 798,000.
The word “Comoros” is derived from the Arabic word قمر qamar, or translated into English, “moon”. Because it’s a nation formed at the crossroads of numerous civilizations, the archipelago is known for it’s diverse culture and unique history. The Union of the Comoros has three official languages, Comorian, Arabic and French. However, French is the sole official language on Mayotte.
The country of the Comoros consists of four major islands in the volcanic Comoros archipelago. Starting with the northwestern most island, Grande Comore, there is Mohéli, then Anjouan and finally the southeastern most island of Mayotte, in addition to many smaller islands. Mayotte, however, has never been administered by the Comoros government. Instead, Mayotte continues to be administered by France, first as a protectorate until recently when the island officially became an overseas department. This is because Mayotte was the only island in the archipelago that voted against independence in 1974.
Since 1974 France has vetoed any United Nations Security Council resolutions that would affirm Comorian sovereignty over the island. Finally a referendum on the question of Mayotte becoming an overseas department of France was held on 29 March 2009 and passed overwhelmingly.
The Comoros is distinct because it is the only state to be a member of the African Union, Francophonie, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Arab League and the Indian Ocean Commission. Sadly, since independence in 1975, the Comoros has experienced numerous coups d’état, and half the population lives below the international poverty line, which is about one euro per day.
The Islands that comprise the Union of the Comoros…
Called the “Pearl of the Comoros” by it’s 277,500 inhabitants, Anjouan is an autonomous island with its capital city being Mutsamudu. The land area of Anjouan is 424 km2, and the island is by far the most scenic of all the islands of the Comoros archipelago.
Referred to by the French as Moheli and Mwali by the locals, it is the smallest of the islands in the Comoro archipelago that are autonomous islands. It has an land area of just 211 km2. The island has rich soil, magnificent forests and fine pasture lands. The population is approximately 45,000, making it the least densely populated of the islands of the Comoro archipelago.
Grande Comore is officially called Ngazidja, and it is the largest island in the Comoros. Most of its population of approximately 316,600 people are of the Comorian ethnic group. The island’s capital is Moroni, which is also the Comoros national capital.
Minor islands of the Comoro archipelago
Ajangua Islands | Angaziga | Aombe | Bambo Island | Bandeli | Buni | Buzi | Cacazou | Canzuni | Chissioua Bouelachamba | Chissioua Bouelamahombe | Chissioua Bouelamahombe | Chissioua Bouelamanga | Chissioua Bouelamiradji | Chissioua Chandzi | Chissioua Chikoundou | Chissioua Dzaha | Chissioua Foro | Chissioua Gnandza | Chissioua Magnougni | Chissioua Mbougo
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