Africa :: Comoros
page last updated on August 3, 2010
Flag of Comoros
Map of Comoros
Introduction ::Comoros
Comoros has endured more than 20 coups or attempted coups since gaining independence from France in 1975. In 1997, the islands of Anjouan and Moheli declared independence from Comoros. In 1999, military chief Col. AZALI seized power in a bloodless coup, and helped negotiate the 2000 Fomboni Accords power-sharing agreement in which the federal presidency rotates among the three islands, and each island maintains its own local government. AZALI won the 2002 presidential election, and each island in the archipelago elected its own president. AZALI stepped down in 2006 and President SAMBI was elected to office. In 2007, Mohamed BACAR effected Anjouan's de-facto secession from the Union, refusing to step down in favor of fresh Anjouanais elections when Comoros' other islands held legitimate elections in July. The African Union (AU) initially attempted to resolve the political crisis by applying sanctions and a naval blockade on Anjouan, but in March 2008, AU and Comoran soldiers seized the island. The move was generally welcomed by the island's inhabitants.
Geography ::Comoros
Southern Africa, group of islands at the northern mouth of the Mozambique Channel, about two-thirds of the way between northern Madagascar and northern Mozambique
Geographic coordinates:
12 10 S, 44 15 E
Map references:
total: 2,235 sq km
country comparison to the world: 179
land: 2,235 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly more than 12 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
340 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Current Weather
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 Karthala 2,360 m
Natural resources:
Land use:
arable land: 35.87%
permanent crops: 23.32%
other: 40.81% (2005)
Irrigated land:
Total renewable water resources:
1.2 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.01 cu km/yr (48%/5%/47%)
per capita: 13 cu m/yr (1999)
Natural hazards:
cyclones possible during rainy season (December to April); Le Karthala 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, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
important location at northern end of Mozambique Channel
People ::Comoros
773,407 (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 160
Age structure:
0-14 years: 41.9% (male 162,767/female 161,487)
15-64 years: 55% (male 210,164/female 215,219)
65 years and over: 3.1% (male 10,757/female 13,013) (2010 est.)
Median age:
total: 18.9 years
male: 18.6 years
female: 19.2 years (2010 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.731% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 21
Birth rate:
34.71 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 34
Death rate:
7.4 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 122
Net migration rate:
urban population: 28% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 2.7% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2010 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 64.61 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 28
male: 72.41 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 56.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 63.83 years
country comparison to the world: 172
male: 61.41 years
female: 66.32 years (2010 est.)
Total fertility rate:
4.78 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
less than 0.1% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 142
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
NA (2007 est.)
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
total population: 56.5%
male: 63.6%
female: 49.3% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 8 years
male: 9 years
female: 7 years (2004)
Education expenditures:
3.8% of GDP (2002)
country comparison to the world: 121
Government ::Comoros
Country name:
conventional long form: Union of the Comoros
conventional short form: Comoros
local long form: Udzima wa Komori (Comorian); Union des Comores (French); Jumhuriyat al Qamar al Muttahidah (Arabic)
local short form: Komori (Comorian); Comores (French); Juzur al Qamar (Arabic)
Government type:
name: Moroni
geographic coordinates: 11 42 S, 43 14 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:
3 islands and 4 municipalities*; Grande Comore (N'gazidja), Anjouan (Ndzuwani), Domoni*, Fomboni*, Moheli (Mwali), Moroni*, Moutsamoudou*
6 July 1975 (from France)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 6 July (1975)
23 December 2001
Legal system:
French and Islamic law in a new consolidated code; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Ahmed Abdallah SAMBI (since 26 May 2006)
head of government: President Ahmed Abdallah SAMBI (since 26 May 2006)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: as defined by the 2001 constitution, the presidency rotates every four years among the elected presidents from the three main islands in the Union; election last held on 14 May 2006 (next to be held in 2011)
election results: Ahmed Abdallah SAMBI elected president; percent of vote - Ahmed Abdallah SAMBI 58.0%, Ibrahim HALIDI 28.3%, Mohamed DJAANFAMI 13.7%
Legislative branch:
unicameral Assembly of the Union (33 seats; 15 deputies are selected by the individual islands' local assemblies and 18 by universal suffrage to serve for five years);
elections: last held on 6 and 20 December 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - pro-union coalition 19, autonomous coalition 4, independents 1; note - 9 additional seats are filled by deputies from local island assemblies
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Cour Supremes (two members appointed by the president, two members elected by the Federal Assembly, one elected by the Council of each island, and others are former presidents of the republic)
Political parties and leaders:
Camp of the Autonomous Islands or CdIA (a coalition of parties organized by the islands' presidents in opposition to the Union President); Convention for the Renewal of the Comoros or CRC [AZALI Assowmani]; Front National pour la Justice or FNJ [Ahmed RACHID] (Islamic party in opposition); Mouvement pour la Democratie et le Progress or MDP-NGDC [Abbas DJOUSSOUF]; Parti Comorien pour la Democratie et le Progress or PCDP [Ali MROUDJAE]; Rassemblement National pour le Development or RND [Omar TAMOU, Abdoulhamid AFFRAITANE]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
other: environmentalists
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Representative to the UN and Ambassador to the US Mohamed TOIHIRI
chancery: Mission to the US, 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 418, New York, NY 10017
telephone: [1] (212) 750-1637
Diplomatic representation from the US:
the US does not have an embassy in Comoros; the ambassador to Madagascar is accredited to Comoros
Flag description:
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; the horizontal bands and the four stars represent the four main islands of the archipelago - Mwali, N'gazidja, Nzwani, and Mahore (Mayotte - territorial collectivity of France, but claimed by Comoros)
note: the crescent, stars, and color green are traditional symbols of Islam
Economy ::Comoros
Economy - overview:
One of the 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. The low educational level of the labor force contributes to a subsistence level of economic activity, high unemployment, and a heavy dependence on foreign grants and technical assistance. Agriculture, including fishing, hunting, and forestry, contributes 40% to GDP, employs 80% of the labor force, and provides most of the exports. Export income is heavily reliant on the three main crops of vanilla, cloves, and ylang-ylang and Comoros' export earnings are easily disrupted by disasters such as fires. The country is not self-sufficient in food production; rice, the main staple, accounts for the bulk of imports. The government - which is hampered by internal political disputes - lacks a comprehensive strategy to attract foreign investment and is struggling to upgrade education and technical training, privatize commercial and industrial enterprises, improve health services, diversify exports, promote tourism, and reduce the high population growth rate. Political problems have inhibited growth, which has averaged only about 1% in 2006-09. Remittances from 150,000 Comorans abroad help supplement GDP. In September 2009 the IMF approved a three-year $21 million loan for Comoros.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$761 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 205
$753.4 million (2008 est.)
$746 million (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$531.2 million (2009 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 98
1% (2008 est.)
-1% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$1,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 209
$1,000 (2008 est.)
$1,000 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 40%
industry: 4%
services: 56% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
268,500 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 166
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 80%
industry and services: 20% (1996 est.)
Unemployment rate:
20% (1996 est.)
country comparison to the world: 165
Population below poverty line:
60% (2002 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 0.9%
highest 10%: 55.2%
revenues: $27.6 million
expenditures: $NA (2001 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
3% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 101
Central bank discount rate:
5.36% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 79
5.36% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
7% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 82
10.5% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money:
$100.6 million (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 155
$96.01 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money:
$41.74 million (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 163
$37.48 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit:
$79.52 million (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 132
$45.09 million (31 December 2007)
Agriculture - products:
vanilla, cloves, ylang-ylang, perfume essences, copra, coconuts, bananas, cassava (tapioca)
fishing, tourism, perfume distillation
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
22 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 204
Electricity - consumption:
20.46 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 205
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 196
Oil - consumption:
1,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 203
Oil - exports:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 204
Oil - imports:
766 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 191
Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 192
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 185
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 197
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 189
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 190
Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 190
Current account balance:
$8 million (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 58
$32 million (2006)
country comparison to the world: 202
Exports - commodities:
vanilla, ylang-ylang (perfume essence), cloves, copra
Exports - partners:
Turkey 25.2%, France 20.44%, Singapore 17.44%, Algeria 8.02%, Italy 6.09%, Saudi Arabia 5% (2009)
$143 million (2006)
country comparison to the world: 205
Imports - commodities:
rice and other foodstuffs, consumer goods, petroleum products, cement, transport equipment
Imports - partners:
France 15.5%, China 14.66%, India 10.55%, UAE 7.88%, Pakistan 5.69%, Kenya 4.51% (2009)
Debt - external:
$232 million (2000 est.)
country comparison to the world: 171
Exchange rates:
Comoran francs (KMF) per US dollar - 361.4 (2007), 391.8 (2006), 395.6 (2005), 396.21 (2004), 435.9 (2003)
note: the Comoran franc is pegged to the euro at a rate of 491.9677 Comoran francs per euro
Communications ::Comoros
Telephones - main lines in use:
23,300 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 187
Telephones - mobile cellular:
42,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 198
Telephone system:
general assessment: sparse system of microwave radio relay and HF radiotelephone communication stations
domestic: fixed-line connections only about 3 per 100 persons; mobile cellular usage about 5 per 100 persons
international: country code - 269; HF radiotelephone communications to Madagascar and Reunion
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 4, shortwave 1 (2001)
Television broadcast stations:
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
7 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 223
Internet users:
23,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 188
Transportation ::Comoros
4 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 188
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2009)
total: 880 km
country comparison to the world: 184
paved: 673 km
unpaved: 207 km (2002)
Merchant marine:
total: 136
country comparison to the world: 46
by type: bulk carrier 15, cargo 87, carrier 2, chemical tanker 5, container 2, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 9, refrigerated cargo 5, roll on/roll off 8, specialized tanker 1
foreign-owned: 68 (Bangladesh 2, Bulgaria 2, Cyprus 1, Greece 6, India 2, Kenya 1, Kuwait 1, Lebanon 4, Norway 1, Pakistan 4, Philippines 1, Russia 12, Saudi Arabia 1, Singapore 1, Syria 4, Turkey 8, Ukraine 8, UAE 7, US 2) (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Mayotte, Mutsamudu
Military ::Comoros
Military branches:
Army of National Development (AND): Comoran Security Force, Comoran Coast Guard, Comoran Federal Police (2010)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 178,670
females age 16-49: 177,811 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 130,064
females age 16-49: 140,600 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 8,519
female: 8,498 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures:
2.8% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 50
Transnational Issues ::Comoros
Disputes - international:
claims French-administered Mayotte and challenges France's and Madagascar's claims to Banc du Geyser, a drying reef in the Mozambique Channel; in May 2008, African Union forces are called in to assist the Comoros military recapture Anjouan Island from rebels who seized it in 2001

Source: The World Factbook (CIA)