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The Comoros officially the Union of the Comoros is an island nation in the Indian Ocean, located off the eastern coast of Africa on the northern end of the Mozambique Channel between northern Madagascar and northeastern Mozambique.

Background History

Comoros has endured more than 20 coups or attempted coups since gaining independence from France in 1975. In 1997, the islands of Anjouan and Moheli declared independence from Comoros. In 1999, military chief Col. Azali seized power of the entire government in a bloodless coup, and helped negotiate the 2000 Fomboni Accords power-sharing agreement in which the federal presidency rotates among the three islands, and each island maintains its local government. Azali won the 2002 federal presidential election, and each island in the archipelago elected its president. Azali stepped down in 2006 and President Sambi was elected to office. In 2007, Mohamed Bacar effected Anjouan's de-facto secession from the Union of Comoros, refusing to step down when Comoros' other islands held legitimate elections in July. The African Union (AU) initially attempted to resolve the political crisis by applying sanctions and a naval blockade to Anjouan, but in March 2008 the AU and Comoran soldiers seized the island. The island's inhabitants generally welcomed the move. In May 2011, Ikililou Dhoinine won the presidency in peaceful elections widely deemed to be free and fair.



Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Union of the Comoros
  • conventional short form: Comoros
  • local long form: Udzima wa Komori (Comorian); Union des Comores (French); Jumhuriyat al Qamar al Muttahidah (Arabic)
  • local short form: Komori (Comorian); Comores (French); Juzur al Qamar (Arabic)


  • name: Moroni
  • geographic coordinates: 11 42 S, 43 14 E
  • time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)


  • 6 July 1975 (from France)

Government Type:

  • republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Ikililou Dhoinine (since 26 May 2011)
  • head of government: President Ikililou Dhoinine (since 26 May 2011)
  • elections: as defined by the 2001 constitution, the presidency rotates every four years among the elected presidents from the three main islands in the Union; election last held on 7 November and 26 December 2010 (next to be held in 2014)

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: unicameral Assembly of the Union

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Supreme Court


People & Society


  • 766,865 (global rank: 164)
  • growth rate: 1.87% (global rank: 62)


  • noun: Comoran(s)
  • adjective: Comoran

Major Cities:

  • Moroni (capital) 54,000

Ethnic Groups:

  • Antalote, Cafre, Makoa, Oimatsaha, Sakalava


  • Sunni Muslim 98%, Roman Catholic 2%


  • Arabic (official), French (official), Shikomoro (a blend of Swahili and Arabic)

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 63.48 years (global rank: 184)
  • male: 61.23 years
  • female: 65.8 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 65.31 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 19)
  • male: 76.11 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 54.18 deaths/1,000 live births


  • adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (global rank: 131)
  • people living with AIDS: fewer than 500 (global rank: 155)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 75.5%
  • male: 80.5%
  • female: 70.6%



One of the world's poorest countries, Comoros is made up of three islands that have inadequate transportation links, 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, and a heavy dependence on foreign grants and technical assistance. Agriculture, including fishing, hunting, and forestry, contributes 50% to GDP, employs 80% of the labor force, and provides most of the exports. Export income is heavily reliant on the three main crops of vanilla, cloves, and ylang-ylang; and Comoros' export earnings are easily disrupted by disasters such as fires. The country is not self-sufficient in food production; rice, the main staple, accounts for the bulk of imports. The government - which is hampered by internal political disputes - lacks a comprehensive strategy to attract foreign investment and is struggling to upgrade education and technical training, privatize commercial and industrial enterprises, improve health services, diversify exports, promote tourism, and reduce the high population growth rate. Political problems have inhibited growth. Remittances from 200,000 Comorans abroad help supplement GDP. In December 2012, IMF and the World Bank's International Development Association supported $176 million in debt relief for Comoros, resulting in a 59% reduction of its future external debt service over a period of 40 years.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $911 million (global rank: 206)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $1,300 (global rank: 210)
  • real growth rate: 3.5% (global rank: 94)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 51%, industry: 10%, services: 39%


  • currency: Comoran Franc (KMF)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 378.7


  • population below poverty line: 60%
  • unemployment rate: 20%

Agricultural Products:

  • vanilla, cloves, ylang-ylang (perfume essence), copra, coconuts, bananas, cassava (manioc)


  • fishing, tourism, perfume distillation

Export Commodities:

  • vanilla, ylang-ylang (perfume essence), cloves, copra

Import Commodities:

  • rice and other foodstuffs, consumer goods, petroleum products, cement, transport equipment




  • Southern Africa, group of islands at the northern mouth of the Mozambique Channel, about two-thirds of the way between northern Madagascar and northern Mozambique


  • total: 2,235 sq km (global rank: 180)
  • land: 2,235 sq km
  • water: 0 sq km


  • tropical marine; rainy season (November to May)

Land Use:

  • arable land: 44.06%
  • permanent crops: 31.71%
  • other: 24.77%

Current Environmental Issues:

  • soil degradation and erosion results from crop cultivation on slopes without proper terracing; deforestation


Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: claims French-administered Mayotte and challenges France's and Madagascar's claims to Banc du Geyser, a drying reef in the Mozambique Channel; in May 2008, African Union forces are called in to assist the Comoros military recapture Anjouan Island from rebels who seized it in 2001
  • human trafficking: Comoros is a source country for children subjected to forced labor and reportedly sex trafficking; Comoran children are forced to labor within the country in domestic service, roadside and street vending, baking, agriculture, and sometimes criminal activities; some Comoran students at Koranic schools are exploited for forced agricultural or domestic labor, sometimes being subjected to physical and sexual abuse; Comoros may be particularly vulnerable to transnational trafficking because of inadequate border controls, government corruption, and the presence of criminal networks

Published: Friday, March 06, 2015