The economy of Comoros is limited by low incomes, high unemployment, an inadequate transport system, the nation's isolated location, the absence of any mineral resources, and a heavy dependence on foreign aid. Most of the population relies on small-scale family agriculture for their livelihoods. The industrial sector is very small and relies mostly on construction and electricity and water distribution. The industrial sector also is supplemented by some processing of ylang ylang (a flower used to make perfume) and vanilla. The services sector comprises mostly government employees, with some employment in the tourism sector.
Comoros has suffered continuous political instability since independence in 1975, which has impeded economic progress. Local and foreign businesses are unwilling to invest in the current volatile (unstable) political and business climate. Falling world prices and increased competition in the international market for the principal export commodities of Comoros have contributed to economic decline. Emphasis is currently on containing public sector wage costs to reduce domestic inflation and speeding-up privatization of state-owned enterprises.
The per capita gross national product (GNP) of Comoros was estimated at $370 in 1998 by the exchange rate conversion. Per capita GNP declined in real terms from 1990 to 1997 at an average annual rate of-3.1 percent. Output grew at an almost negligible rate of 0.1 percent per year in the last half of the 1990s, much less than the population growth rate, which was estimated at 3 percent in 2001.