Comoros, officially the Union of the Comoros (Comorian: Udzima wa Komori, French: Union des Comores, Arabic: ??????? ??????? al-Itti??d al-Qumur? / Qamar?) is a sovereign archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean, located at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel off the eastern coast of Africa, between northeastern Mozambique and northwestern Madagascar. Other countries near the Comoros are Tanzania to the northwest and the Seychelles to the northeast. Its capital is Moroni, on Grande Comore.
At 1,862 km2 (719 sq mi), excluding the contested island of Mayotte, the Comoros is the third-smallest African nation by area. The population, excluding Mayotte, is estimated at 798,000. The name “Comoros” derives from the Arabic word ??? qamar (“moon”). As a nation formed at a crossroads of many civilizations, the archipelago is noted for its diverse culture and history. The Union of the Comoros has three official languages – Comorian, Arabic and French – though French is the sole official language on Mayotte.
Officially, in addition to many smaller islands, the country consists of the four major islands in the volcanic Comoros archipelago: northwesternmost Grande Comore (Ngazidja); Mohéli (Mwali); Anjouan (Nzwani); and southeasternmost Mayotte (Maore). Mayotte, however, has never been administered by the Comoros government (or, before independence, its predecessors). Instead, Mayotte continues to be administered by France (currently as an overseas department) as it was the only island in the archipelago that voted against independence in 1974. France has since vetoed United Nations Security Council resolutions that would affirm Comorian sovereignty over the island. In addition, a referendum on the question of Mayotte becoming an overseas department of France in 2011 was held on 29 March 2009 and passed overwhelmingly.
The Comoros is the only state to be a member of all of the following: the African Union, Francophonie, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Arab League (of which it is the southernmost state, being the only member of the Arab League which is entirely within the Southern Hemisphere) and the Indian Ocean Commission. Since independence in 1975, the country has experienced numerous coups d’état and, as of 2008, about half the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.
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, is located on Ngazidja. The archipelago is situated in the Indian Ocean, in the Mozambique Channel, between the African coast (nearest to Mozambique and Tanzania) and Madagascar, with no land borders.
At 2,235 km2 (863 sq mi), it is one of the smallest countries in the world. The Comoros also has claim to 320 km2 (120 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 (84–86 °F) in March, the hottest month in the rainy season (called kashkazi, December to April), and an average low of 19 °C (66 °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 (dormant), and the lack of good harbors are distinctive characteristics of its terrain. Mwali, with its capital at Fomboni, is the smallest of the four major islands. Nzwani, whose capital is Mutsamudu, has a distinctive triangular shape caused by three mountain chains, Sima, Nioumakele, and Jimilime, emanating from a central peak, Ntringi (1,575 m or 5,167 ft).
The oldest of the islands, Mayotte has the richest soil as well as good harbors and local fish populations, due to its ring of coral reefs. Dzaoudzi, the previous capital of all the colonial Comoros, is located on Pamanzi, (French: Petite-Terre), the largest islet of Maore. Maore’s current capital is at Mamoudzou. The term Mayotte (or Maore) may also refer to the group of islands, of which the largest is known as Maore (French: Grande-Terre), 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, an active shield volcano located on Ngazidja, is the country’s highest point, at 2,361 m or 7,748 ft (2,362 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 17 to 19 April, 40,000 citizens were evacuated, and the crater lake in the volcano’s 3 by 4 km (1.9 by 2.5 mi) caldera was destroyed.
The Comoros also lays claim to the Glorioso Islands, 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) 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, 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 in their own right, Comoros forests.
|1||Comores Telecom (Comtel)||GSM-900||0.056 (2007)||government (Societe Nationale des Telecommunications)|
|2||Comoro Gulf Holding||GSM||–||90% Comoro Gulf Holding, 10% government|