“Unit, Solidarity, Development”
The Comoros or the Union of the Comoros is an archipelago located in Southern Africa, north of Channel of Mozambique, an arm of the sea of the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and the continent.
The archipelago understands four islands but one of them, Mayotte is still occupied by France in spite of the pressure of the General meeting of UNO.
The Comoros at a glance
Administrative divisions: 3 autonomous islands (Large Comore, Anjouan, Mohéli), 16 prefectures
Population: more than 750,000 inhabitants
Principal languages: French, Arabic and Comorian
Principal religion: Sunni Islam
Current president: AzaliAssoumani
Currency: frank Comorian
Conversion into euro: 100 francs Comorian = 0.20 euro
Tourism: no the particular restriction
Three autonomous islands
The Union of the Comoros should not be confused with the eponymous archipelago since only three of the four islands are understood in the federal republic. Indeed, the island of Mayotte is comparable still today at a French overseas department.
The Union of the Comoros thus understands three main islands like several small islands located in the northern part of the Channel of Mozambique, a long arm of the sea 1,600 kilometers, between the African continent and Madagascar. The archipelago is thus located in the Indian Ocean.
Formerly the whole of the archipelago was part of the French colonial empire and the three islands of the Union were called Large Comore, Mohéli and Anjouan. If one generally continues to name them thus, they were respectively renamed Ngazidja, Mwali and Nzwani.
• Ngazidja or Large Comore is largest but also youngest of the three islands. Of volcanic origin, it is characterized by a mountainous relief dominated in the south by more the high summit of the country, Karthala, an always active volcano culminating with 2,361 meter altitudes. Karthala is remarkable by its broad will caldeira (depression located at the center of the volcano and formed following an eruption). A tropical forest lacerated of lava flow recovers its sides. The north of the island is mainly occupied by a stratovolcano, the Grid. The two volcanos are separated by a plate relatively arid and not very favorable with agriculture.
• Nzuwani or Anjouan also has a mountainous relief. Comme Ngazidja, this island is quasi deprived out of water. Indeed, their relief and the lack of vegetation do not make it possible to retain rainwater.
• The Mwali or Mohéli, smallest of the islands has a broken relief but its clay soil allowed the development of a rain forest and the presence of waterway. It is also the only tourist destination of the Union.
The climate of the Comoros east of the tropical type oceanic with one hot season, wet and prone to the cyclones from November to April and a cold season and dries from May to October.
The Comorian archipelago shelters an endemic fauna and a flora. Unfortunately, numerous species disappeared or are in process of extinction like unquestionable bat or the small-dukes of Anjouan, Karthala and Mohéli. The government adopted recently a policy of safeguard having for mission of damming up this phenomenon in particular by stopping deforestation. The creation of a marine park in 1999 also makes it possible to save the places of laying of the green tortoises and the habitat of the fish coelacanths.
A Bantu origin
The settlement of the archipelago of the Comoros is relatively recent. However, of the recent excavations would have put at the day of the traces of occupation going back to one more remote time but this thesis was not confirmed yet.
It is probably around the 6th century of our era that an African ethnos group of Bantu origin settles on the islands. The few villages are then managed by the head of the family before becoming more important chiefdoms. The four islands of the archipelago have a quasi-similar history even if the islands of Mayotte and Nzuwani were occupied more tardily than the two others.
As from the 7th century (or 9th century according to the various theses), the Comoros Islamize under the influence, for the ones, of the Arab tradesmen, or, for the others, Persian princes in exile. At the 16th century, the Mwali islands and Nzuwani are occupied by only one sultanate while many sultanates cohabit in the island of Ngazidja. The populations of African origin are driven out of their ground and must henceforth work for the new occupants.
This period called “the sultan’s fighters” finishes in 1886 when the sultan Saïd Ali bin Said Omar unifies Large Comore by signing the “treaty of Bambao” with France.
Meanwhile, the islands are regularly attacked by Sakalava, an ethnos group originating in Madagascar, which organize raids to seize slaves. The archipelago is also used as stopover on the road of the Far East and the Indies to the European explorers. The pirates also find refuge there to expect the passage and to plunder the ships which set sail towards the Cape of Good Hope.
France establishes the first protectorate in 1841 on the island of Mayotte by offering a financial equalization to the sultan Adrian Tsouli. After having helped in 1886 the sultan Saïd Ali bin Said Omar to unify the various sultanates of Large Comore, France can also establish a protectorate on this island like on that of Anjouan and, a little later, on the island of Mohéli.
The governors of Mayotte quickly dominate those of the three other islands which become in 1892, of dependencies of the island of Mayotte.
The colonists occupy the whole of the territory and impose French as official language while the Comorians must work in the plantations of vanilla and plants intended for the perfumers.
In 1908, the archipelago is annexed to the French colony of Madagascar and dependences. The Comorians recover, at least partly, their grounds what does not prevent the inhabitants of Large Comore from revolting in 1915. The rebellion is quickly subdued and the archipelago knows one period of peace in spite of strikes organized to be opposed in 1940 to the deportation of blue-collar workers towards the other French colonies.
To the independence
After being entrusted to the United Kingdom during the German occupation during the Second World War, the archipelago is again French in 1946. From this time, the Comoros obtain more autonomy and are represented at the French Parliament while the town of Dzaoudzi located on the island of Mayotte obtains the statute of capital.
In 1953, the Comorian elected officials ask for their independence but meet the opposition of the French land great landowners and the Creoles. The Comoros obtain the internal statute of autonomy however and a first Comorian government with Saïd Mohammed Cheikh at his head is made up in 1961. Various social and economic reforms improve the standard of living of the population and the capital is transferred to Moroni.
In 1973, France grants a consultation chief clerk concerning the independence of the Comoros. Against any waiting, more than 65% of the inhabitants of Mayotte vote for the maintenance of the archipelago in French Republic.
In the other islands, 90% of the population voted in favor of independence.
Mayotte thus remains French while the three other islands are declared independent in 1975 and Ahmed Abdallah Abderamane becomes the first Head of the Comorian State.
The Islamic Federal republic of the Comoros
It follows one turbid period marked by several assassination and coups d'etat. In 1978, the Islamic Federal republic of the Comoros replaces the Comorian State.
Returned with the power while being pressed on the French mercenary Bob Denard, Abdallah founds a sole party in 1981, the “Comorian Union for progress”. The mode hardens and the troops of the mercenary control the country. Bob Denard converts with Islam and is renamed Saïd Mustapha Mahdjoub. In 1989, Abdallah is assassinated and replaced by Saïd Mohamed Djohar and Denard turns over to France.
It follows one turbid period on bottom of corruption and accounting scandals within the government while the economy crumbles.
Union of the Comoros
When the first free elections are organized in 1996, Mohamed Taki Abdoulkarin probably supported by France seizes the power. Under its short presidency, the islands of Anjouan and Mohéli claim and obtain their independence.
It is necessary to expect the agreements of Fomboni in 2000 so that the Comorian institutional crisis ends with the creation of the Union of the Comoros and the introduction of the constitution of a Federal state including the three islands and a rotating presidency every four years.
The Union of the Comoros is a Federal republic controlled by a president who has the load of the foreign policy and defense of the territory. In theory, the president must come in turn from each of the three islands. AzaliAssoumani which had already been president of the Republic of the Comoros in 2002 was re-elected in 2016.
The legislative power is exerted by the National Assembly.
The legal power is independent and is exerted by the Supreme Court and the Constitutional court. However the litigations are generally sliced by the old ones of the villages.
Each island elects its own president in charge of government in charge of the economy, finances, health and justice.
An agricultural economics
The economic growth of the Comoros stagnates after having known a beautiful increase in 2013 and in 2014.
If the investments remain timid, the production and the export of vanilla, the clove and the ylang-ylang profit from a beautiful rise. Agriculture accounts for 40% of the GDP of the country. Misery remains very alarming with about half of the population living under the poverty line.
The government counts on the discovery of oilfields and tourism to diversify its resources and to improve the economy.
A multicultural society
The total population of the Union of the Comoros reaches almost the 800,000 inhabitants. In spite of a high fertility rate (more than 4 children per woman), the population growth is weak in particular because of an infantile mortality rate of more than 6% and one life expectancy lower than 65 years. More than 60% of the Comorians live in rural environment.
French, Arabic and the Comorian languages called shikomori are the official languages of the Union of the Comoros.
The languages belonging to the Comorian group are part of the Bantu languages and approach the Swahili one. They however integrated Arab, French and English words. Each island has its particular dialect (shingazidja with Large Comore, shimwali with Mohéli and shindzuani with Anjouan).
The Sunni Islam of rite chaféite is the principal religion of the country although Arabic is spoken only by one minority about Comorians. He is taught in the Koranic schools. However, the ancestral rites originating in Africa are still practiced, mainly in the island of Large Comore.
Each island kept its cultural identities in particular in clothing. The colors of the scarves of the women differ for example according to their island from origin. The music and the dance have a great cultural importance.
The Comorian cuisine is extremely crossed. She inherited the influences Indian, Arab, Malagasy and African to offer dishes varied containing rice, of cassava, chicken, fish, seafood and coconut.
To be able to penetrate on the territory of the Comoros, it is necessary to be in possession of a ticket return and a sum of money corresponding minimum to 30 euros per day. An authorization is essential to the yachtsmen to be able to accost in the ports of the three islands but it is however strongly misadvised surfing in water close to the archipelago because of the many acts of piracy.
The Union of the Comoros is a relatively sure destination and the flights or aggressions are rare but there is necessary to remain vigilant and comply with the usual safety regulations like respecting the Moslem habits and preventing its presence near the embassy.
No vaccination is obligatory but the vaccines against the rage, the typhoid fever, the viral hepatites, and the diphteria-tetanus-poliomyelitis are advised. It is also necessary to be protected from the insect bites responsible for the dengue and the chikungunya.
Tourism is rare in the Comoros, the hotel facilities are developed very little and rudimentary transport. The amateurs of country holidays will however appreciate the beaches and the excursions in forest or the visit of the plantations of vanilla and flowers. Only the island of Mohéli has some reception facilities.