Comoros [Country Flag of Comoros]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Comoros]



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Historical perspective: Comoros has had difficulty in achieving political stability, having endured 18 coups or attempted coups since receiving independence from France in 1975. Most recently, in August 1997, the islands of Anjouan and Moheli declared their independence from Comoros. An attempt in September 1997 by the government to reestablish control over the rebellious islands by force failed, and presently the Organization of African Unity is brokering negotiations to effect a reconciliation.


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Location: Southern Africa, group of islands in 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: Africa

total: 2,170 sq km
land: 2,170 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly more than 12 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 340 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: tropical marine; rainy season (November to May)

Terrain: volcanic islands, interiors vary from steep mountains to low hills

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Kartala 2,360 m

Natural resources: NEGL

Land use:
arable land: 35%
permanent crops: 10%
permanent pastures: 7%
forests and woodland: 18%
other: 30% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: NA sq km

Natural hazards: cyclones possible during rainy season (December to April); Mount 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 the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography—note: important location at northern end of Mozambique Channel


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Population: 545,528 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 43% (male 116,345; female 115,886)
15-64 years: 54% (male 146,655; female 150,612)
65 years and over: 3% (male 7,644; female 8,386) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.1% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 40.52 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 9.52 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.91 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 84.54 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 60.36 years
male: 57.95 years
female: 62.84 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 5.48 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Comoran(s)
adjective: Comoran

Ethnic groups: Antalote, Cafre, Makoa, Oimatsaha, Sakalava

Religions: Sunni Muslim 86%, Roman Catholic 14%

Languages: Arabic (official), French (official), Comoran (a blend of Swahili and Arabic)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 57.3%
male: 64.2%
female: 50.4% (1995 est.)


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Country name:
conventional long form: Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros
conventional short form: Comoros
local long form: Republique Federale Islamique des Comores
local short form: Comores

Data code: CN

Government type: independent republic

National capital: Moroni

Administrative divisions: three islands; Grande Comore (Njazidja), Anjouan (Nzwani), and Moheli (Mwali)
note: there are also four municipalities named Domoni, Fomboni, Moroni, and Mutsamudu

Independence: 6 July 1975 (from France)

National holiday: Independence Day, 6 July (1975)

Constitution: 20 October 1996

Legal system: French and Muslim law in a new consolidated code

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Mohamed TAKI Abdulkarim (since 16 March 1996)
head of government: Prime Minister Nourdine BOURHANE (since 6 December 1997)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote to a five-year term; election last held 16 March 1996 (next to be held NA March 2001); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Mohamed TAKI Abdulkarim elected president; share of vote—64%

Legislative branch: bicameral legislature consists of the Senate (15 seats; members selected by regional councils for six-year terms) and a Federal Assembly or Assemblee Federale (43 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 1 and 8 December 1996 (next to be held NA December 2000)
election results: percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—RND 39, RND candidate running as independent 1, FNJ 3

Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Cour Supremes, two members are appointed by the president, two members are elected by the Federal Assembly, one by the Council of each island, and former presidents of the republic

Political parties and leaders: Rassemblement National pour le Development or RND [Mohamed TAKI Abdulkarim], party of the government; Front National pour la Justice or FNJ, Islamic party in opposition
note: under a new constitution ratified in October 1996, a two party system was established; President Mohamed TAKI Abdulkarim called for all parties to dissolve and join him in creating the RND; the constitution stipulates that only parties that win six seats in the Federal Assembly (two from each island) are permitted to be in opposition, but if no party accomplishes that the second most successful party will be in opposition; in the elections of December 1996 the FNJ appeared to qualify as opposition

International organization participation: ACCT, ACP, AfDB, AFESD, AL, CCC, ECA, FAO, FZ, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, InOC, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), IOC, ITU, NAM, OAU, OIC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WMO, WTrO (applicant)

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ahmed DJABIR (ambassador to the US and Canada and permanent representative to the UN)
chancery: (temporary) care of the Permanent Mission of the Federal and Islamic Republic of the Comoros to the United Nations, 336 East 45th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10017
telephone: [1] (212) 972-8010

Diplomatic representation from the US: the US does not have an embassy in Comoros; the ambassador to Mauritius is accredited to Comoros

Flag description: green with a white crescent in the center of the field, its points facing downward; there are four white five-pointed stars placed in a line between the points of the crescent; the crescent, stars, and color green are traditional symbols of Islam; the four stars represent the four main islands of the archipelago - Mwali, Njazidja, Nzwani, and Mayotte (a territorial collectivity of France, but claimed by Comoros); the design, the most recent of several, is described in the constitution approved by referendum on 7 June 1992


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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, is the leading sector of the economy. It contributes 40% to GDP, employs 80% of the labor force, and provides most of the exports. The country is not self-sufficient in food production; rice, the main staple, accounts for the bulk of imports. The government 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 the high population growth rate. Continued foreign support is essential if the goal of 4% annual GDP growth is to be maintained in the late 1990s.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$400 million (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 3.5% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$685 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 40%
industry: 14%
services: 46% (1996 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 3.5% (1996 est.)

Labor force:
total: 144,500 (1996 est.)
by occupation: agriculture 80%, government 3%

Unemployment rate: 20% (1996 est.)

revenues: $55 million
expenditures: $71 million, including capital expenditures of $15 million (1995 est.)

Industries: tourism, perfume distillation, textiles, furniture, jewelry, construction materials, soft drinks

Industrial production growth rate: -6.5% (1989 est.)

Electricity—capacity: 9,750 kW (1996)

Electricity—production: 31 million kWh (1996)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 38 kWh (1996)

Agriculture—products: vanilla, cloves, perfume essences, copra, coconuts, bananas, cassava (tapioca)

total value: $11.4 million (f.o.b., 1996 est.)
commodities: vanilla, ylang-ylang, cloves, perfume oil, copra
partners: France 54%, Germany 18%, US 18%

total value: $70 million (f.o.b., 1996 est.)
commodities: rice and other foodstuffs, consumer goods; petroleum products, cement, transport equipment
partners: France 60%, South Africa 10%, Kenya 5%, Singapore 4%

Debt—external: $219 million (1996 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $NA

Currency: 1 Comoran franc (CF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Comoran francs (CF) per US$1—456.27 (January 1998), 437.75 (1997), 383.66 (1996), 374.36 (1995), 416.40 (1994), 283.16 (1993)
note: beginning 12 January 1994, the Comoran franc was devalued to 75 per French franc from 50 per French franc at which it had been fixed since 1948

Fiscal year: calendar year


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Telephones: 4,000 (1993 est.)

Telephone system: 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 2, FM 1, shortwave 0

Radios: 78,000 (1993 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 0

Televisions: 200 (1993 est.)


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Railways: 0 km

total: 880 km
paved: 673 km
unpaved: 207 km (1996 est.)

Ports and harbors: Fomboni, Moroni, Mutsamudu

Merchant marine: none

Airports: 4 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (1997 est.)


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Military branches: Comoran Security Force

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 129,095 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 76,991 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $3 million (1994 est.)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: NA%

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: claims French-administered Mayotte