After more than 20 coups or attempted coups, the archipelago of islands that make up Comoros are trying to consolidate political stability and use their picture-perfect beaches to climb out of poverty.
There are four major islands, as well as many smaller ones, in the country: Grande Comore; Moheli; Anjouan; and Mayotte. Mayotte, however, voted against impendence and is still governed by France.
To add to the country’s troubles, two of the four major islands, Anjouan and Moheli, declared unilateral independence in a violent conflict in 1997.
The descendants of Arab traders, Malay immigrants and African peoples contribute to the islands’ complex ethnic mix.
Natural resources are in short supply and the islands’ chief exports – vanilla, cloves and perfume essence – are prone to price fluctuations. Money sent home by Comorans living abroad is an important source of income.
- The Union of The Comoros
- Capital: Moroni
- Population 773,000
- Area 1,862 sq km (719 sq miles)
- Major languages Arabic, French, Comoran (a blend of Swahili and Arabic)
- Major religion Islam
- Life expectancy 60 years (men), 63 years (women)
- Currency Comoran franc