The Comoros, officially the Union of the Comoros, is a sovereign archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel located between northeastern Mozambique and northwestern Madagascar as shown in Figure 1.
The countries that border the Union of the Comoros include Mozambique, Tanzania, the Seychelles, the French Indian Ocean Territories and Madagascar.
The capital of the Comoros, Moroni, is located on the island of Grande Comore and this is where the Government is based. In addition to several smaller islands, the country consists of four major islands as shown in Figure 2 – from northwest to southeast, the islands are Grande Comore (Ngazidja); Mohéli (Mwali); Anjouan (Nzwani); and Mayotte (Maore) which is also claimed by France.
As a nation formed at the cross-roads of several civilisations, the Comoros archipelago is noted for its diverse culture and history. The islands became a French colony following the Berlin Conference of 1886/7 and remained under French political control until 1975 when three islands, Grande Comore, Mohéli, and Anjouan declared their independence from France. The fourth major island of the archipelago, Mayotte, continued to be administered by France although Mayotte belongs within the sphere of the independent nation of the Comoros and is recognised as such by the United Nations General Assembly.
The Union of the Comoros is a federal presidential republic and electoral democracy with a Presidency that rotates every four years between the three islands of Grande Comore, Mohéli and Anjouan. The most recent presidential elections in the Comoros Islands were held on 21 February 2016. A second round was then held on 10 April 2016 alongside elections for the Governors of the three islands of Anjouan, Grande Comore and Mohéli. Azali Assoumani of the Convention for the Renewal of the Comoros was elected President with 41% of the vote.
The Union of the Comoros has three official languages, Comorian, Arabic and French although French is the sole official language on Mayotte. The Comoros is the only known state to be a member of the African Union, Francophonie, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Arab League and the Indian Ocean Commission.
As of 2014, the population of the Comoros was approximately 773,000 and the country had a GDP per capita of US$616 making it one of the world’s poorest countries. Economic growth and poverty reduction are major priorities for the government. With a rate of 14.3%, unemployment is regarded as very high against global standards. Agriculture, including fishing and forestry is the leading sector of the economy. Agriculture contributes approximately 40% to the Comoros GDP, employs 80% of the labour force and provides the majority of the country’s exports. The Comoros is currently the world’s largest producer of ylang-ylang, and a large producer of vanilla.