Comoros

Official name : Federal Islamic Republic of Comoros

Area: 2,170 square kilometers (838 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Karthala (2,360 meters/7,743 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Southern and Eastern

Time zone: 3 P.M. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 180 kilometers (110 miles) from east-southeast to west-northwest; 110 kilometers (60 miles) from north-northeast to south-southwest

Land boundaries: None

Coastline: 340 kilometers (211 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers 12 nautical miles

1 LOCATION AND SIZE

Comoros is a group of three islands located in the northern edge of the Mozambique Channel, between the eastern shore of Mozambique and the island of Madagascar. With an area of 2,170 square kilometers (838 square miles), the country is a little more than twelve times the size of Washington, D.C.

2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES

Comoros has no territories or dependencies.

3 CLIMATE

The islands of Comoros have a tropical marine climate. The temperature averages 28°C (82°F) in March, the hottest month. From May to September, southerly winds bring cooler and drier conditions with temperatures averaging around 19°C (66°F). The rainy season is from December to April with January rainfall averaging about 42 centimeters (16.5 inches). Rainfall and temperature vary from island to island during any given month and even vary throughout an island due to the topography. The central, higher areas of an island are often cooler and moister than the coastal regions.

4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS

Comoros is composed of three islands: Grande Comore (Ngazidja), Anjouan (Nzwani) and Mohéli (Mwali). The islands were created by the volcanic action along a fissure in the underlying seabed running west-northwest to east-southeast. The center of Grande Comore is a desert lava field. Hilly, black basalt relief formations rise 1,200 to 1,600 meters (3,950 to 5,250 feet) on Anjouan and 500 to 800 meters (1,650 to 2,600 feet) on Mohéli.

5 OCEANS AND SEAS

Seacoast and Undersea Features

The islands of Comoros are completely surrounded by the waters of the Mozambique Channel, an arm of the Indian Ocean set apart by the island of Madagascar.

Islands and Archipelagos

The northernmost and largest island in Comoros is Grande Comore (Ngazidja), with an area of 1,148 square kilometers (443 square miles). Next in size and to the south of Grande Comore is Mohéli (Mwali) at 290 square kilometers (112 square miles). Anjouan (Nzwani), which is east of Mohéli, is 424 square kilometers (164 square miles) in area.

The island of Mayotte (Maore), southeast of Anjouan, is claimed by Comoros but remains under French administrative control.

There are also several smaller islands surrounding the main land areas.

Coastal Features

Mangrove swamps can be found along the coastal zones of the islands. The sandy beaches of the islands have the potential to become an important resource for the tourism industry in Comoros. In places, rocky cliffs rise dramatically from the sea.

6 INLAND LAKES

There are no major lakes in Comoros.

7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS

There are no major rivers in Comoros.

8 DESERTS

A desert lava field lies in the central interior of the island of Grande Comore.

9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN

There are large tracts of fertile soil on the volcanic islands, but because of the dense population, farming has been forced upwards on the hills, leading to deforestation and erosion. The rich volcanic soils enable the growth of plentiful vegetation. Mangroves predominate in the coastal areas, with palms, bananas, and mangoes further inland.

The island of Anjouan has steep hills that rise nearly 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) from a volcanic massif in the center of the island. On Mohéli there is a ridge in the center of a plain that reaches 580 meters (1,900 feet) above sea level.

10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES

The highest peak of the Comoros is Mount Karthala (2,360 meters/7,743 feet), located on the southern tip of the island of Grande Comore. It is also an active volcano. Lush forest areas grow around the hills and volcanic peaks of the islands.

11 CANYONS AND CAVES

There are no notable canyons or caves on Comoros.

12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS

The plateau on Grande Comore rises nearly 600 meters (2,000 feet).

13 MAN-MADE FEATURES

While there are no notable man-made features on the Comoros Islands, humans have been living on the volcanic islands for centuries.

14 FURTHER READING

Books

Madagascar and Comoros: A Travel Survival Kit. Berkeley, CA: Lonely Planet Publications, 1989.

Ottenheimer, Martin, and Harriet Ottenheimer. Historical Dictionary Islands . Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1994.

Websites

ArabNet. http://www.arab.net/comoros/comoros_contents.html (accessed March 5, 2003).

U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs. "Background Notes, Comoros." http://www.state.gov (accessed March 5, 2003).

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