The Comoros, an island state in the Indian Ocean, at the north end of the Mozambique Channel off the east coast of Africa, in the archipelago of the same name. Includes three major islands: Njazídja (Grande Comore), Mwali (Mohéli) and Nzwani (Anjouan), as well as a fourth island, French Mayotte (Maore), as well as several smaller islands, in an approximately 250 kilometer long northeast-southeast range.

The capital is Moroni. The natives call the land ‘Masiva’, (‘the islands’).

Comoros is Africa’s third smallest nation and one of Africa’s poorest countries. Since independence in 1975, the Comoros have been characterized by great political instability.

The Comoros (name) comes from Arabic ‘qumr’ (‘moon’) and means ‘The Little Moon Islands’.

Geography and environment

The big islands are tall and volcanic; In addition, there are a number of smaller islands and coral reefs. The highest mountain is the active volcano Kartala, 2361 meters above sea level, on Njazídja. There are few good harbors and beaches, and little good cultivation land. The landscape on the interior of the big islands varies from steep mountains to low hills.

There is tropical sea climate with small annual variations and a lot of rainfall. In Moroni, the average temperature in December – April is 26 ° C (warmest) and July – September 23 ° C (coldest), and annual rainfall is 2640 millimeters. It rains most in January-April. The islands are rarely haunted by cyclones (December – April).

The original vegetation of forests is cut out and the meadows have become pastures. At the coast there are mangrove forests in several places. The flora has many endemic (native) species.

The original fauna of land mammals is six bat species and two half monkeys, mayotemaki and mungomaki. Several mammals, such as javamangust, have been introduced. Nearly half of the 43 breeding bird species are endemic. There are 34 species of reptiles, including sea ​​turtles. Particularly known is the bluefish, Latimeria chalumnae, one of two species of living tassel fish.

Moroni's many mosques

One of the capital of Moroni’s many mosques. Over 90% of the country’s inhabitants are Muslims (Sunni).

People and society

Comoros is one of the world’s least populous countries and at the same time one of the most densely populated. 39.3 per cent of the population is under 15 (2017). Most are of African-Arab origin and there are minorities of Gassian, Indian, French, Dutch, British and Portuguese origins. In and around Moroni there are Comoros of Chinese origin. Between 200,000 and 350,000 Comoros live in France.

Life expectancy at birth is 67 years for women and 62.3 years for men. (CIA Factbook 2017).

Arabic, French and Shikomor (Comorian; a mixture of Swahili and Arabic ) are official languages. 22.2 per cent of the population over the age of 15 are illiterate (2015).

98 percent of the population are Sunni Muslims and the remaining two percent are Roman Catholics, Shia Muslims and Protestants (2017).

Grande Comore

From the capital Moroni, located on the southwest coast of the Comoros’ largest island Njazída (Grande Comore).

State and politics

The Comoros are a federal republic. The president is both the head of state and the head of government, and is elected for five years. Parliament has one chamber with 33 representatives elected for five years. Political parties function more as personal networks than as political movements.

The country is divided into three districts (each of the islands) with a high degree of internal self-government. There are four municipalities.

Comoros is a member of the UN and most of the UN’s special organizations, the Arab League, the World Bank, the World Health Organization and the Cotonou Agreement.

The defense consists of a small army, a police force of 500 men and a defense force of 500 soldiers.


The Comoros were populated by Melanesian-Polynesian peoples in the 400s and 500s. Later, immigrants from Madagascar, Arab areas, Persia and Indonesia. The Comoros were visited by Portuguese seafarers from 1503; Portuguese settled on the islands where Arabs dominated.

In 1793, warriors from Madagascar raided the islands for slaves. The French subdued Mayotte in 1843 and the other three major islands came under French protection in 1886. The islands were united under one French administration with the French colonial general in Madagascar as supreme authority. From 1912 the Comoros were administratively controlled from Madagascar. In 1947, the archipelago became a French overseas territory with representation in the French National Assembly.

The Comoros gained internal autonomy in 1961 and became independent in 1975, but France retained control of Mayotte who, after a referendum, chose not to be part of the Comoros (64 percent voted against). After independence, there have been 21 coups and coup attempts. The inauguration of the politically independent Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Zambi as president in 2006 became the first peaceful takeover of the Comoros.

An attempt to detach Nzwani and Mwali in 1997 was turned down. In an effort to bring these outbreak islands back into the fold, the three major islands gained greater autonomy under a constitution of 2001. South Africa and the African Union have helped stabilize the Comoros politically. Ikililou Dhoinine was appointed President in 2011.

Economy and business

Agriculture, forestry and fishing account for 50 per cent of the Comoros’ GDP and employ 80 per cent of the labor force. Most of the exports depend on vanilla, spice and ylang-ylan g; the latter is the country’s largest exporter of. Sweet potatoes, rice, bananas and cassava are also grown. Most of the imports consist of rice.

There is some fishing industry and perfume distillation. Industry accounts for only four percent of Comoros’ GDP. France is the main trading partner.

Tourism is poorly developed, and money sent home from Comoros abroad is an important source of income.

Knowledge and culture

It is officially compulsory school for all children between 6 and 16 years. The primary school is six years old and the one secondary school is seven years old. Students must travel abroad. 77.8 percent of the population over the age of 15 can read and write (2015).

There is one state-owned television station and one regional television station on Nzwani, and one state-owned radio station and two small radio stations on Ngazidja and Mwali.

There is one daily newspaper and two weekly newspapers.

Early literature on the Comoros is mainly legends mixed with historical accounts. Well-known authors include the novelists Aboubacar Said Salim (1949–) and Mohamed Tofiri (1955–), the poet Modou Salam Baco (1967–) and the playwright Alain-Kamal Martial (1974–). Theater is central; tragedies and comedies have historical and often socially critical themes.

The most widespread music genre is the Comorian twarab version of Zanzibarsk taarab music.

Wood carving, wickerwork, embroidery work and gold and silver filigree jewelery are central to applied arts, and street art and graffiti in visual arts.

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