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Flag Source: CIA World Factbook
The history of settlement in Comoros goes back as far as the first century A.D. Throughout history, various groups from the African coast, Persia, the Arabian Peninsula, Indonesia, and Madagascar have controlled the islands. Moroni was founded in the tenth century as a trading outpost. During the 19th century, France established Comoros as a colony and attracted French citizens, investors, and companies. The economy was transformed to the plantation model, and to this day about one third of all the land on the islands is devoted to plantations.
In 1973 an agreement was made to allow Comoros to become independent in 1978, but in 1975 the parliament declared independence from France. Delegates from Mayotte refused to participate, and a later referendum showed that the majority of the island wished to stay French. Less than a month after independence, a coup, partially sponsored by the French government, ousted the president. A few mo
nths after that, another coup took place. A succession of military coups, armed rebellions, and secessionist sentiment prevailed until 1999, when Azali Assoumani took over in a bloodless coup. Azali helped establish a democratic and federalist government; he stepped down from his post in 2002 to run for the presidency and was elected. He was replaced in 2006 in the first peaceful transition of power in the history of the islands. In 2008 one of the islands, Anjouan, was invaded by forces from the African Union and Comoros to depose Mohammed Bacar, a military leader who had assumed control of the island in 2001 and staged fake elections in 2007.
The Top 6: Local Advice
1. Comoros is located in the Mozambique Channel, off the eastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. The country is made up of four islands. Three islands constitute the Union of Comoros, while the fourth, Mayotte, rejected independence and is still under French control.
2. Moroni is the capital city and the largest, with a population of just over 60,000.
3. Comorian is the most commonly spoken language, but a different dialect is spoken on each island. Most of the country also speaks Arabic, and a large portion speaks French. All three are official languages of the Union of Comoros, while French is the official language of Mayotte.
4. The majority of the population practices Islam, and there is a small Roman Catholic minority. The legal system combines French and Islamic law. Many practices that are common in Western culture are outlawed in Comoros, such as the drinking of alcohol. While there is religious freedom, no proselytizing is allowed.
5. Many countries do not have an embassy in Comoros;, the U.S. embassy, for example, was closed in 1993. The ambassador to Madagascar now represents the United States in Comoros and the British High Commission in Mauritius represents the United Kingdom. When traveling, you’register with the embassy that represents your native country in Comoros.
6. Each island has an airport. There is air and ferry service between the islands; the FAA has not evaluated the aviation authority of Comoros for safety, however.