oa Africa Insight - Country profile - Comoros

Volume 16, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0256-2804



The Comoros archipelago comprises four main islands in the Mozambique Channel : Njazidja (the largest), Nzwani, Mwali and Mayotte. The first three islands form the Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros. The Comoros is not only one of the poorest countries in the world, but Nzwani (Anjouan) has a higher density of population in terms of cultivable land than any country on the African mainland. In 1841 the French landed on Mayotte and the sultan was persuaded to cede his island to France. The rulers of the other three islands followed his example one by one between 1886 and 1909, and in 1912 the Comoros were proclaimed a French colony. Two years later the islands became a dependency of Madagascar. The Comoros thus became a minor appendage of a much larger, culturally very different and historically separate country. In these circumstances it was hardly surprising that the islands were neglected and remained virtually in their pre-colonial condition for most of the 20th century. In 1946 the Comoros were separated from Madagascar and became financially and administratively autonomous, although remaining a French overseas territory.

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