COMOROS

Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros
République Fédérale Islamique des Comores
Jumhuriyat al-Qumur al-Ittihadiyah
al-Islamiyah

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

LOCATION AND SIZE.

Comoros is comprised of 3 islands that are part of a 4-island archipelago in the Mozambique Channel. The fourth island, Mayotte, is still a dependency of France. The islands lie between the northern tip of Madagascar and the African mainland. The archipelago, formed by the tips of a volcanic mountain range rising from the Mozambique Channel, stretches over 300 kilometers (186 miles) from north to south. Comoros has a land area of 2,170 square kilometers (838 square miles), making it slightly larger than 12 times the size of Washington, D.C. The main island, Grande Comore (locally known as Ngazidja but also called Njazidja), is geologically the youngest. It measures 60 kilometers (37 miles) from north to south and 20 kilometers (12 miles) from east to west. Its most prominent geographical feature is Mount Kartala (2,361 meters/7,746 feet), an active volcano which smokes and bubbles continuously on Grande. The capital, Moroni, is located on Grande Comore. The other 2 smaller islands are Anjouan (Nzwani) and Mohéli (Mwali). Anjouan is the most topographically varied, with steep coastlines and deep valleys. Its highest peak, Mount Ntingui, rises 1,595 meters (5,233 feet). Mohéli, on the other hand, is the smallest, least populated, and least developed island. The total coastline of the islands is 340 kilometers (211 miles).

POPULATION.

The population of Comoros was estimated at 596,000 in July 2001, up from 479,600 in 1994. The nation has a young population; the proportion of older people (65 years of age and above) was estimated at 2.9 percent in 2001, while the 0-14 age group was 43 percent in the same year. Comoros is steadily becoming more urbanized, with the proportion of the population living in towns having increased from 29.9 percent in 1994 to 32.1 percent in 1998. The population consists almost entirely of persons of mixed-race, mostly of African, Malagasy, and Arab descent.

French, Comoran, and Arabic are the official languages. Comoran, the main spoken language, is akin to Swahili but has elements borrowed from Arabic. Other languages spoken include Malagasy and Swahili.

Islam, the state religion, is followed by 98 percent of Comorans. Almost all Comorans are Sunni Muslims. There are small numbers of Christians, mostly Roman Catholics of French Malagasy descent.

DEPENDENCIES

Comoros has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

"Comoros." World Yearbook. London: Europa Publications,2000.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Comoros. London: EIU, 2000.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Comoros. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

Hodd, M. "Comoros." The Economies of Africa. Aldershot, England: Dartmouth Publications, 1991.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html> . Accessed October 2001.

U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: Comoros, April 1997. <http://www.state.gov/www/background_notes/comoros_0497.html> . Accessed October 2001.

World Bank. The Comoros: Problems and Prospects of a Small Island Economy. Washington, D.C.: World Bank Group, 1979.

World Bank. World Bank Africa Database 2000. WashingtonD.C.: World Bank Group, 2000.

—Allan C.K. Mukungu

CAPITAL:

Moroni.

MONETARY UNIT:

Comoran franc (KMF). One Comoran franc equals 100 centimes. There are notes with denominations of 25, 50, 100, 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000 francs. Coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 francs and 20 centimes. French francs are also commonly used. The Comoran franc is currently pegged to the euro at KMF 492 = 1 euro.

CHIEF EXPORTS:

Vanilla, ylang-ylang, cloves, perfume oil, and copra.

CHIEF IMPORTS:

Rice and other foodstuffs, consumer goods, petroleum products, cement, and transport equipment.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:

US$419 million (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).

BALANCE OF TRADE:

Exports: US$7.9 million (f.o.b., 1999 est.). Imports: US$55.1 million (f.o.b., 1999 est.).

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