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Island country, western Indian Ocean. Area: 719 sq mi (1,862 sq km). Population: (2009 est.) 676,000. Capital: Moroni. The people are a mixture of Malay immigrants, Arab traders, and peoples from Madagascar and continental Africa. Languages: Comorian (a Bantu language), Arabic, French (all official). Religion: Islam (official; predominantly Sunni). Currency: Comorian franc. Comoros comprises a group of islands between Madagascar and the eastern African mainland that includes Ngazidja (Grande Comore), Mwali (Mohéli), and Nzwani (Anjouan) but excludes Mayotte. They are generally rocky, with shallow soils and poor harbours, though Mwali, the smallest, has fertile valleys and forested hillsides. Mount Karthala, an active volcano, is the highest point, at 7,746 ft (2,361 m). The climate is tropical. One of the world's poorest nations, Comoros has an economy based on subsistence agriculture. It is a republic with one legislative house. The head of state and government is the president, assisted by vice presidents. Beginning in the 16th century, Comoros was known to European navigators, but the dominant influence on the islands was then and for long afterward Arab. In 1843 France officially took possession of Mayotte and in 1886 placed the other three islands under protection. Subordinated to Madagascar in 1912, the Comoros became an overseas territory of France in 1947. In 1961 they were granted internal autonomy. In 1974 majorities on three of the islands voted for independence, which was declared in 1975. The following decade saw several coup attempts, culminating in the assassination of the president in 1989. French intervention permitted multiparty elections in 1990, but the country remained in a state of chronic instability, including secessionist movements on Nzwani and Mwali. In 1999 the army took control of the government and negotiated a constitution in 2001.
Variants of COMOROS
Comoros officially Union of the Comoros
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Comoros, visit Britannica.com.