Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros
République Fédérale Islamique des Comores;
Jumhuriyat al-Qumur al-Ittihadiyah al-Islamiyah
CAPITAL : Moroni
FLAG: Four equal horizontal bands of yellow (top), white, red, and blue with a green isosceles triangle based on the hoist; centered within the triangle is a white crescent with the convex side facing the hoist and four white, five-pointed stars placed vertically in a line between the points of the crescent.
ANTHEM: No information available.
MONETARY UNIT: The Comorian franc (Co Fr) is the equivalent of the Communauté Financière Africaine franc (CFA Fr), which has been pegged to the euro since January 1999 at a rate of 655.957 CFA francs to 1 euro. The Comorian franc is issued in notes of 500, 1,000, and 5,000 Co Fr. Co Fr1 = $0.00223 (or $1 = Co Fr448.183) as of May 2003.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is used.
HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Second Coup d'État, 13 May; Independence Day, 6 July; Admission to UN, 12 November; Christmas Day, 25 December. The principal Muslim holidays are observed.
TIME: 3 PM = noon GMT.
The climate in the Comoros is humid and tropical, with coastal temperatures averaging about 28° C (82° F ) in March and 23° C (73° F ) in August. The monsoon season lasts from December to April. Rainfall in January averages 42 cm (16.5 in), and in October, the driest month, 8.5 cm (3.3 in). Cyclones and tidal waves are frequent in the summer.
About 40,000 Comorians live in France and 25,000 in Madagascar. About 16,000 were expelled from Madagascar in 1977–78, following a massacre there of Comorians in December 1976. The net migration rate in 1999 was zero. In 2000 there were 18,000 migrants living in Comoros. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.
The islands' indigenous population consists almost entirely of persons of mixed African, Malagasy, Malay, and Arab descent. Ethnic groups include the Antalote, Cafre, Makoa, Oimatsaha, and Sakalava. Small numbers of Indians, Malagasy, and Europeans play an important part in the economy.
French and Arabic are the official languages. The main spoken language, Shaafi Islam (Shikomoro or Comoran), is akin to Swahili but has elements borrowed from Arabic. Other languages spoken include French, Malagasy, Swahili, Arabic, and Makua (an African language).
Under the federal system, each of the main islands has its own president and elected legislature. The governors, formerly elected, were appointed by the president after the constitution was amended in 1982. There are also four municipalities: Domoni, Fomboni, Moroni, and Moutsamoudou.
The armed forces consist of a police force numbering 500 and a defense force of 500 members. France provides a small military presence, military training, and naval protection. Defense spending in 2001 was $6 million, or 3% of GDP.
Small amounts of livestock are raised. In 2001 there were an estimated 113,000 goats, 52,000 head of cattle, 21,000 sheep, and 5,000 asses. An estimated 1,900 tons of beef and 1,000 tons of other meat were produced in 2001, along with 4,400 tons of milk and 820 tons of eggs.
The fish catch in the Comoros amounted to about 13,200 tons in 2000, half of which was tuna. A Japanese-funded fisheries training center was opened on Anjouan in 1985.
Forested areas amounted to about 8,000 hectares (20,000 acres) in 2000. Numerous fruit trees and tropical hardwoods are found. Some timber is produced, notably on the island of Grande Comore, which has about half the remaining forest.
In 2000, 19 million kWh of power were generated, up from 15 million kWh in 1998. Of the power produced, approximated 90% was from thermal and 10% from hydroelectric sources. Installed capacity was about 5,000 kW, approximately 80% of it thermal. Electricity consumption was 17.7 million kWh in 2000. All petroleum products are imported.
There are various small-scale industries, mostly for processing the islands' agricultural products. Aside from perfume distilleries (perfume is one of the country's main exports), the Comoros has sawmills, a soap factory, a printing plant, a small plastics factory, a soft-drink plant, and metalworking shops. Industry accounted for a mere 4% of GDP in 2001.
There are no research institutes or institutions of higher learning in the Comoros.
Société Comorienne d'Assurances is based in Moroni. The Paris-based Préservatrice Foncière d'Assurances has an agent in Moroni.
Tax collection, formerly the role of the island governors, became a federal responsibility under the 1982 constitutional revision.
Import and export licenses are required but often limited to a few firms. Since 1992, the government has reorganized the customs office, computerized customs, and introduced taxes on petroleum products and rice.
At last estimate, approximately 65% of all housing units were straw huts with roofs of cocoa leaves, and about 25% were made of durable materials including stone, brick, or concrete. Of all housing units, nearly 90% were owned, 3% rented, and 3% occupied rent free. Traditional (non-flush) toilets were found in more than 90% of all housing units, gas lighting in more than 90%, and electric lighting in nearly 6%.
At the time of independence there were two public libraries and three school libraries, with a total of 13,400 volumes.
There is a Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture at Moroni. Youth organizations are developed in part through the national Union of Youth and Students of the Comores (Union Jeunesse et des Etudiants des Comores: UJEC), founded in 1975. Scouting organizations are also active for youth.
The Comoros has no territories or dependencies.
The Comoros: Current Economic Situation and Prospects. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1983.
Newitt, Malyn. The Comoro Islands: Struggle Against Dependency in the Indian Ocean. Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1984.
Ottenheimer, Martin. Historical Dictionary of the Comoro Islands. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1994.
——. Historical Dictionary of the Comoro Islands. [computer file] Boulder, Colo.: netLibrary, Inc., 2000.