Comoros

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The archipelago of the Comoros in the Indian Ocean, composed of the islands of Mayotte, Anjouan, Moheli, and Grand Comore declared independence from France on 6 July 1975. France did not recognize the independence of Mayotte, which remains under French administration. Since independence, Comoros has endured political instability through realized and attempted coups. In 1997, the islands of Anjouan and Moheli declared independence from Comoros. In 1999, military chief Col. AZALI Assoumani seized power of the entire government in a bloodless coup; he initiated the 2000 Fomboni Accords, a power-sharing agreement in which the federal presidency rotates among the three islands, and each island maintains its local government. AZALI won the 2002 federal presidential election as president from Grand Comore Island, and each island in the archipelago elected its president. AZALI stepped down in 2006 and President SAMBI was elected to office as president from Anjouan. In 2007, Mohamed BACAR effected Anjouan's de-facto secession from the Union of Comoros, refusing to step down when Comoros' other islands held legitimate elections in July. The African Union (AU) initially attempted to resolve the political crisis by applying sanctions and a naval blockade to Anjouan, but in March 2008 the AU and Comoran soldiers seized the island. The island's inhabitants generally welcomed the move. In May 2011, Ikililou DHOININE won the presidency in peaceful elections widely deemed to be free and fair. Former President SAMBI’s supporters recently have attempted to remove the stipulation that the presidency rotate among the islands so that he can run again in the national elections, which are expected in early 2016.

Geography

Location

Southern Africa, group of islands at the northern mouth of the Mozambique Channel, about two-thirds of the way between northern Madagascar and northern Mozambique

Geographic coordinates

12.10° S, 44.15° E

Area 180/257

total: 2,235 sq km

land: 2,235 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

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Climate

tropical marine; rainy season (November to May)

Terrain

volcanic islands, interiors vary from steep mountains to low hills

Elevation

mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m

highest point: Karthala 2,360 m

Natural resources

fish

Land use

agricultural land: 84.4%

arable land 46.7%; permanent crops 29.6%; permanent pasture 8.1%

forest: 1.4%

other: 14.2% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

1.3 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

1.2 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 0.01 cu km/yr (48%/5%/47%)

per capita: 16.86 cu m/yr (1999)

Natural hazards

cyclones possible during rainy season (December to April); volcanic activity on Grand Comore

volcanism: Karthala (elev. 2,361 m) on Grand Comore Island last erupted in 2007; a 2005 eruption forced thousands of people to be evacuated and produced a large ash cloud

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, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

important location at northern end of Mozambique Channel

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Comoran(s)

adjective: Comoran

Ethnic groups

Antalote, Cafre, Makoa, Oimatsaha, Sakalava

Languages

Arabic (official), French (official), Shikomoro (official; a blend of Swahili and Arabic) (Comorian)

Religions

Sunni Muslim 98%, Roman Catholic 2%

Population 164/238

780,971 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 40.77% (male 158,654/female 159,722)

15-24 years: 18.98% (male 71,694/female 76,500)

25-54 years: 32.25% (male 119,595/female 132,299)

55-64 years: 4.17% (male 14,414/female 18,135)

65 years and over: 3.84% (male 14,018/female 15,940) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 75.6%

youth dependency ratio: 70.7%

elderly dependency ratio: 4.9%

potential support ratio: 20.4% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 19.4 years

male: 18.7 years

female: 20 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 67/233

1.77% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 45/224

27.84 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 111/225

7.57 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 175/222

-2.53 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 28.3% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 2.67% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

MORONI (capital) 56,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 0.99 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 0.94 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.9 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.8 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female

total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

24.6

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2012 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 42/184

335 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 19/224

total: 63.55 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 74.18 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 52.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 182/224

total population: 63.85 years

male: 61.57 years

female: 66.19 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 43/224

3.6 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

19.4% (2012)

Health expenditures 153/191

5.8% of GDP (2013)

Hospital bed density

2.2 beds/1,000 population (2006)

Drinking water source

improved:

urban: 92.6% of population

rural: 89.1% of population

total: 90.1% of population

unimproved:

urban: 7.4% of population

rural: 10.9% of population

total: 9.9% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved:

urban: 48.3% of population

rural: 30.9% of population

total: 35.8% of population

unimproved:

urban: 51.7% of population

rural: 69.1% of population

total: 35.8% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

NA

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

NA

HIV/AIDS - deaths

NA

Obesity - adult prevalence rate 164/191

5.8% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight 39/138

16.9% (2012)

Education expenditures 15/173

7.6% of GDP (2008)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 11 years

male: NA

female: NA (2013)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Union of the Comoros

conventional short form: Comoros

local long form: Udzima wa Komori (Comorian); Union des Comores (French); Jumhuriyat al Qamar al Muttahidah (Arabic)

local short form: Komori (Comorian); Comores (French); Juzur al Qamar (Arabic)

etymology: name derives from the Arabic designation "Juzur al Qamar" meaning "Islands of the Moon"

Government type

republic

Capital

name: Moroni

geographic coordinates: 11.42° S, 43.14° E

time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

3 islands and 4 municipalities*; Anjouan (Ndzuwani), Domoni*, Fomboni*, Grande Comore (N'gazidja), Moheli (Mwali), Moroni*, Moutsamoudou*

Independence

6 July 1975 (from France)

National holiday

Independence Day, 6 July (1975)

Constitution

previous 1996; latest ratified 23 December 2001; amended 2009, 2014 (2015)

Legal system

mixed legal system of Islamic religious law, the French civil code of 1975, and customary law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of the Comoros

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Ikililou DHOININE (since 26 May 2011); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Ikililou DHOININE (since 26 May 2011)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president

elections/appointments: presidency rotates every 4 years among the elected presidents of the Union's 3 main islands; Union president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed (first round by the island voters only; second round by simple majority vote of all island voters; election last held on 7 November and 26 December 2010 (next to be held in 2015)

election results: Ikililou DHOININE elected president; percent of vote in second round - Ikililou DHOININE 61.1%, Mohamed Said FAZUL 32.7%, Abdou DJABIR 6.2%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Assembly of the Union (33 seats; 24 members elected by absolute majority vote in two rounds if needed and 9 members indirectly selected by island assemblies; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 25 January and 22 February 2015 (next to be held in 2020)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UPDC 8, PJ 7, RDC 2, CRC 2, RADHI 1, PEC 1, independents 3; note - in addition 9 seats will be filled by nominations from the 3 island assemblies

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court or Cour Supreme (consists of 7 judges); Constitutional Court (consists of 8 members)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges - 2 selected by the president of the Union, 2 by the Assembly of the Union, and 1 each by the 3 island councils; judges appointed for life; Constitutional Court members appointed - 1 by the president, 1 each by the 3 vice presidents, 1 by the Assembly, and 1 each by the island executives; all members serve 6-year renewable terms

subordinate courts: Court of Appeals (in Moroni); Tribunal de premiere instance; island village (community) courts; religious courts

Political parties and leaders

Convention for the Renewal of the Comoros or CRC [AZALI Assoumani]

Democratic Rally of the Comoros or RDC [Mouigni BARAKA]

Juwa Party or PJ [Ahmed Abdallah SAMBI]

Party for the Comorian Agreement (Partie Pour l'Entente Commorienne) or PEC [Fahmi Said IBRAHIM]

Rally for an Alternative of Harmonious and Integrated Development or RADHI [Abdou SOEFO]

Rally with a Development Intiiative for Enlightened Youth or RIDJA [Said Larifou]

Union for the Development of the Comoros or UPDC [Mohamed HALIFA]

Political pressure groups and leaders

Federation Comorienne des Consomateurs or FCC [Mohamed Said Abdallah MCHANGANA]

Mouvement des Entreprises comorienne or MODEC [Faharate HOUSSEIN]

Union des Chambres de Commerce et de l'Industrie et de l'Agriculture or UCCIA [Fahmy THABIT]

Confederation des Travailleurs Comoriens or CTC

other: environmentalists

International organization participation

ACP, AfDB, AMF, AOSIS, AU, CAEU (candidates), COMESA, FAO, FZ, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, InOC, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAS, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OIF, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)

Flag description

four equal horizontal bands of yellow (top), white, red, and blue, with a green isosceles triangle based on the hoist; centered within the triangle is a white crescent with the convex side facing the hoist and four white, five-pointed stars placed vertically in a line between the points of the crescent; the horizontal bands and the four stars represent the four main islands of the archipelago - Mwali, N'gazidja, Ndzuwani, and Mahore (Mayotte - department of France, but claimed by Comoros)

note: the crescent, stars, and color green are traditional symbols of Islam

National symbol(s)

four stars and crescent; national colors: green, white

National anthem

name: "Udzima wa ya Masiwa" (The Union of the Great Islands)

lyrics/music: Said Hachim SIDI ABDEREMANE/Said Hachim SIDI ABDEREMANE and Kamildine ABDALLAH

note: adopted 1978

Economy

Economy - overview

One of the world's poorest countries, Comoros is made up of three islands that are hampered by 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. Currently, authorities are negotiating with the IMF for triennial program assistance. Agriculture, including fishing, hunting, and forestry, accounts for 50% of GDP, employs 80% of the labor force, and provides most of the exports. Export income is heavily reliant on the three main crops of vanilla, cloves, and ylang-ylang; and Comoros' export earnings are easily disrupted by disasters such as fires and extreme weather. Despite agriculture’s importance to the economy, the country imports roughly 70% of its food; rice, the main staple, accounts for the bulk of imports. The government - which is racked by internal political disputes - is struggling to provide basic services, upgrade education and technical training, privatize commercial and industrial enterprises, improve health services, diversify exports, promote tourism, and reduce the high population growth rate. Recurring political instability, sometimes initiated from outside the country, has inhibited growth. Remittances from about 200,000 Comoran diaspora contribute about 25% of the country’s GDP. In December 2012, IMF and the World Bank's International Development Association supported $176 million in debt relief for Comoros, resulting in a 59% reduction of its future external debt service over a period of 40 years. In late 2013, a US-based investment company invested $200 million in a project to explore for hydrocarbons in Comoran territorial waters, the largest financial investment in the country’s history.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 201/230

$1.214 billion (2015 est.)

$1.202 billion (2014 est.)

$1.179 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$589 million (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 179/225

1% (2015 est.)

2% (2014 est.)

3.5% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 213/230

$1,600 (2015 est.)

$1,500 (2014 est.)

$1,500 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 153/179

9.3% of GDP (2015 est.)

11.6% of GDP (2014 est.)

11.8% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 105.7%

government consumption: 29.6%

investment in fixed capital: -1.2%

investment in inventories: 9.2%

exports of goods and services: 20.8%

imports of goods and services: -64.1%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 49.7%

industry: 12.7%

services: 37.6% (2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

vanilla, cloves, ylang-ylang (perfume essence), coconuts, bananas, cassava (manioc)

Industries

fishing, tourism, perfume distillation

Industrial production growth rate 103/202

2.5% (2015 est.)

Labor force 168/233

245,200 (2013 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 80%

industry and services: 20% (1996 est.)

Unemployment rate 168/207

20% (1996 est.)

Population below poverty line

60% (2002 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 0.9%

highest 10%: 55.2% (2004)

Budget

revenues: $129.9 million

expenditures: $147.3 million (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 143/219

22.1% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 110/220

-3% of GDP (2015 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 92/226

1.6% (2015 est.)

1.4% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate 117/156

1.93% (31 December 2010)

2.21% (31 December 2009)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 74/184

11% (31 December 2015 est.)

10.5% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 186/192

$114.2 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$133.3 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 188/193

$269.6 million (31 December 2014 est.)

$251.9 million (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 182/191

$144.2 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$166.6 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Current account balance 64/197

-$93 million (2015 est.)

-$80 million (2014 est.)

Exports 212/224

$18.6 million (2015 est.)

$18.3 million (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

vanilla, ylang-ylang (perfume essence), cloves

Exports - partners

India 28.4%, Singapore 13.2%, France 13%, Germany 12.9%, Saudi Arabia 5.9%, US 4.9%, Netherlands 4.6% (2014)

Imports 205/223

$188.2 million (2015 est.)

$216 million (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

rice and other foodstuffs, consumer goods, petroleum products, cement and construction materials, transport equipment

Imports - partners

China 14.6%, Pakistan 13.9%, France 13.6%, Algeria 11.8%, UAE 9.5%, India 5.9% (2014)

Debt - external 191/206

$142 million (31 December 2014 est.)

$146.4 million (31 December 2013 est.)

Exchange rates

Comoran francs (KMF) per US dollar -

447.3 (2015 est.)

370.81 (2014 est.)

370.81 (2013 est.)

382.9 (2012 est.)

353.9 (2011 est.)

Energy

Electricity - production 210/220

43 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 210/219

39.99 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 124/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 134/219

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 203/214

22,000 kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 67/214

95.5% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 70/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 127/214

4.5% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 170/212

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 119/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 111/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 174/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 118/215

0 bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 168/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 202/212

1,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 168/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 197/213

1,009 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 172/216

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 131/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 81/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 180/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 125/212

0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 202/212

157,400 Mt (2012 est.)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines 178/219

total subscriptions: 23,500

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 173/217

total: 383,000

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 50 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: sparse system of microwave radio relay and HF radiotelephone communication stations

domestic: fixed-line connections only about 3 per 100 persons; mobile cellular usage about 30 per 100 persons

international: country code - 269; landing point for the EASSy fiber-optic submarine cable system connecting East Africa with Europe and North America; HF radiotelephone communications to Madagascar and Reunion (2010)

Broadcast media

national state-owned TV station and a TV station run by Anjouan regional government; national state-owned radio; regional governments on the islands of Grande Comore and Anjouan each operate a radio station; a few independent and small community radio stations operate on the islands of Grande Comore and Moheli, and these two islands have access to Mayotte Radio and French TV (2007)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 1, FM 4, shortwave 1 (2001)

Television broadcast stations

NA

Internet country code

.km

Internet hosts 225/232

14 (2012)

Internet users 182/217

total: 50,200

percent of population: 6.6% (2014 est.)

Transportation

Airports 186/236

4 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 4

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2013)

Roadways 187/223

total: 880 km

paved: 673 km

unpaved: 207 km (2002)

Merchant marine 39/156

total: 149

by type: bulk carrier 16, cargo 83, carrier 5, chemical tanker 5, container 2, passenger 2, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 17, refrigerated cargo 10, roll on/roll off 8

foreign-owned: 73 (Bangladesh 1, Bulgaria 4, China 1, Cyprus 2, Greece 4, Kenya 2, Kuwait 1, Latvia 2, Lebanon 2, Lithuania 1, Nigeria 1, Norway 1, Pakistan 5, Russia 12, Syria 5, Turkey 8, UAE 8, UK 1, Ukraine 10, US 2) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Moroni, Mutsamudu

Military and Security

Military branches

National Army for Development (l'Armee Nationale de Developpement, AND): Comoran Security Force (also called Comoran Defense Force (Force Comorienne de Defense, FCD), includes Gendarmerie), Comoran Coast Guard, Comoran Federal Police (2015)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for 2-year voluntary male and female military service; no conscription (2015)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

claims French-administered Mayotte and challenges France's and Madagascar's claims to Banc du Geyser, a drying reef in the Mozambique Channel; in May 2008, African Union forces assisted the Comoros military recapture Anjouan Island from rebels who seized it in 2001