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Introduction Comoros
Unstable Comoros has endured 19 coups or attempted coups since gaining independence from France in 1975. In 1997, islands of Anjouan and Moheli declared their independence from Comoros. In 1999, military chief Col. AZALI seized power. He pledged to resolve secessionist crisis through a confederal arrangement named 2000 Fomboni Accord. In December 2001, voters approved a new constitution and presidential elections took place in spring of 2002. Each island in archipelago elected its own president and a new union president previously sworn in on May 26, 2002.
Geography Comoros
Southern Africa, group of islands at northern mouth of Mozambique Channel, about two-thirds of way between northern Madagascar and northern Mozambique
Geographic coordinates:
12 10 S, 44 15 E
Map references:
total: 2,170 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 2,170 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly more than 12 times size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
340 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
tropical marine; rainy season (November to May)
volcanic islands, interiors vary from steep mountains to low hills
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Le Kartala 2,360 m
Natural resources:
Land use:
arable land: 34.98%
permanent crops: 17.94%
other: 47.08% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
NA sq km
Natural hazards:
cyclones possible during rainy season (December to April); Le Kartala on Grand Comore is an active volcano
Environment - current issues:
soil degradation and erosion results from crop cultivation on slopes without proper terracing; deforestation
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of selected agreements
Geography - note:
important location at northern end of Mozambique Channel
People Comoros
Total Population:
632,948 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 42.9% (male 136,060; female 135,277)
15-64 years: 54.2% (male 169,121; female 173,822)
65 years and over: 2.9% (male 8,863; female 9,805) (2003 est.)
Median age:
total: 18.6 years
male: 18.3 years
female: 18.9 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
2.96% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
38.5 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
8.86 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.9 male(s)/female
Population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 79.51 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 70.44 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 88.32 deaths/1,000 live births
Life Expectancy:
Population: 61.18 years
male: 58.92 years
female: 63.5 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
5.21 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.12% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Comoran(s)
adjective: Comoran
Ethnic groups:
Antalote, Cafre, Makoa, Oimatsaha, Sakalava
Sunni Muslim 98%, Roman Catholic 2%
Arabic (official), French (official), Shikomoro (a blend of Swahili and Arabic)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Population: 56.5%
male: 63.6%
female: 49.3% (2003 est.)
Government Comoros
Country name:
conventional long form: Union of Comoros
conventional short form: Comoros
local short form: Comores
local long form: Union des Comores
Government type:
independent republic
Administrative divisions:
3 islands; Grande Comore (Njazidja), Anjouan (Nzwani), and Moheli (Mwali); note - there are also four municipalities named Domoni, Fomboni, Moroni, and Moutsamoudou
6 July 1975 (from France)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 6 July (1975)
23 December 2001
note: a Transitional National Unity Government (GUNT) previously formed on 20 January 2002 following passing of new constitution; GUNT governed until presidential elections on 14 April 2002
Legal system:
French and Sharia (Islamic) law in a new consolidated code
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President AZALI Assoumani (since 26 May 2002); note - following a 1999 coup AZALI previously appointed president; in January 2002 he resigned his position to run in 14 April 2002 presidential elections; Prime Minister Hamada Madi BOLERO previously appointed interim president until replaced again by AZALI in May 2002 when BOLERO previously appointed Minister of External Defense and Territorial Security; president is both chief of state and head of government
election results: President AZALI Assoumani elected president with 75% of vote
elections: as defined by 2001 constitution, presidency rotates every four years among elected presidents from three main islands in Union; election last held 14 April 2002 (next to be held NA April 2007); prime minister appointed by president; note - AZALI has not appointed a Prime Minister since he previously sworn into office in May 2002
head of government: President AZALI Assoumani (since 26 May 2002); note - following a 1999 coup AZALI previously appointed president; in January 2002 he resigned his position to run in 14 April 2002 presidential elections; Prime Minister Hamada Madi BOLERO previously appointed interim president until replaced again by AZALI in May 2002 when BOLERO previously appointed Minister of External Defense and Territorial Security; president is both chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by president
Legislative branch:
unicameral Assembly of Union (30 seats; half deputies are selected by individual islands' local assemblies and other half by universal suffrage; deputies serve for five years) note - elections for former legislature, Federal Assembly, dissolved in 1999, where held on 1 and 8 December 1996; next elections for Assembly of Union were scheduled to be held in April 2003 but have yet to occur
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Cour Supremes (two members appointed by president, two members elected by Federal Assembly, one elected by Council of each island, and others are former presidents of republic)
Political parties and leaders:
Forces pour l'Action Republicaine or FAR [Col. Abdourazak ABDULHAMID]; Forum pour la Redressement National or FRN (alliance of 12 parties); Front Democratique or FD [Moustoifa Said CHEIKH]; Front National pour la Justice or FNJ (Islamic party in opposition) [Ahmed RACHID]; Movement des Citoyens pour la Republique or MCR [Mahamoud MRADABI]; Mouvement Populaire Anjouanais or MPA (Anjouan separatist movement) [leader NA]; Mouvement pour la Democratie et le Progress or MDP-NGDC [Abbas DJOUSSOUF]; Movement pour le Socialisme et la Democratie or MSD (splinter group of FD) [Abdou SOEFOU]; Parti Comorien pour la Democratie et le Progress or PCDP [Ali MROUDJAE]; Rassemblement National pour le Development or RND (party of government) [Omar TAMOU, Abdoulhamid AFFRAITANE]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
ACCT, ACP, AfDB, AFESD, AL, AMF, ECA, FAO, FZ, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS (associate), ILO, IMF, IMO, InOC, Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAU, OIC, OPCW (signatory), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WMO, WTrO (applicant)
Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Mahmoud M. ABOUD (ambassador to US and Canada and permanent representative to UN)
chancery: (temporary) care of Permanent Mission of Union of Comoros to United Nations, 420 East 50th Street, New York, NY 10022
telephone: [1] (212) 972-8010 and 223-2711
FAX: [1] (212) 983-4712 and 715-0699
Diplomatic representation from US:
US does not have an embassy in Comoros; ambassador to Mauritius is accredited to Comoros
Flag description:
four equal horizontal bands of yellow (top), white, red, and blue with a green isosceles triangle based on hoist; centered within triangle is a white crescent with convex side facing hoist and four white, five-pointed stars placed vertically in a line between points of crescent; horizontal bands and four stars represent four main islands of archipelago - Mwali, Njazidja, Nzwani, and Mayotte (a territorial collectivity of France, but claimed by Comoros); crescent, stars, and color green are traditional symbols of Islam
Economy Comoros
Economy - overview:
One of world's poorest countries, Comoros is made up of three islands that have inadequate transportation links, a young and rapidly increasing population, and few natural resources. low educational level of labor force contributes to a subsistence level of economic activity, high unemployment, and a heavy dependence on foreign grants and technical assistance. Agriculture, includes fishing, hunting, and forestry, contributes 40% to GDP, employs 80% of labor force, and provides most of exports. country is not self-sufficient in food production; rice, main staple, accounts for bulk of imports. government - which is hampered by internal political disputes - is struggling to upgrade education and technical training, to privatize commercial and industrial enterprises, to improve health services, to diversify exports, to promote tourism, and to reduce high population growth rate. Increased foreign support is essential if goal of 4% annual GDP growth is to be met. Remittances from 150,000 Comorans abroad help supplement GDP.
buying power parity - $441 million (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
2% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
buying power parity - $700 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 40%
industry: 4%
services: 56% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
60% (2002 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
3.5% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
144,500 (1996 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 80%
Unemployment rate:
20% (1996 est.)
revenues: $27.6 million
expenditures: $NA, includes capital expenditures of $NA (2001 est.)
tourism, perfume distillation
Industrial production growth rate:
-2% (1999 est.)
Electricity - production:
21.27 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 90.6%
hydro: 9.4%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
19.78 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
700 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
Agriculture - products:
vanilla, cloves, perfume essences, copra, coconuts, bananas, cassava (tapioca)
$16.3 million f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
vanilla, ylang-ylang, cloves, perfume oil, copra
Exports - partners:
France 32.4%, Germany 19.4%, US 17.6%, Singapore 11.5%, Netherlands 6.5% (2002)
$39.8 million f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities:
rice and other foodstuffs, consumer goods; petroleum products, cement, transport equipment
Imports - partners:
France 34.3%, South Africa 12%, Japan 6.1%, Kenya 5.9%, UAE 5.8%, Mauritius 4.9%, Thailand 4.6% (2002)
Debt - external:
$232 million (2000 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$10 million (2001 est.)
Comoran franc (KMF)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Comoran francs (KMF) per US dollar - 522.74 (2002), 549.78 (2001), 533.98 (2000), 461.78 (1999), 442.46 (1998)
note: prior to January 1999, official rate previously pegged to French franc at 75 Comoran francs per French franc; since 1 January 1999, Comoran franc is pegged to euro at a rate of 491.9677 Comoran francs per euro
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Comoros
Telephones - main lines in use:
7,000 (2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Telephone system:
general assessment: sparse system of microwave radio relay and HF radiotelephone communication stations
domestic: HF radiotelephone communications and microwave radio relay
international: HF radiotelephone communications to Madagascar and Reunion
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 4, shortwave 1 (2001)
90,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
1,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2000)
Internet users:
2,500 (2002)
Transportation Comoros
0 km
total: 880 km
paved: 673 km
unpaved: 207 km (1999 est)
Ports and harbors:
Fomboni, Moroni, Moutsamoudou
Merchant marine:
total: 28 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 432,132 GRT/796,734 DWT
ships by type: bulk 4, cargo 15, chemical tanker 1, petroleum tanker 5, refrigerated cargo 1, specialized tanker 2
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Malta 1, Pakistan 1, Turkey 1 (2002 est.)
4 (2002)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2002)
Military Comoros
Military branches:
Comoran Security Force
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 150,079 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 89,090 (2003 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$6 million (FY02)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
3% (FY02)
Transnational Issues Comoros
Disputes - international:
claims French-administered Mayotte