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The World Factbook. 2008.


Flag of Comoros                                Map of Comoros
Background:Comoros has endured 19 coups or attempted coups since gaining independence from France in 1975. In 1997, the islands of Anjouan and Moheli declared independence from Comoros. In 1999, military chief Col. AZALI seized power in a bloodless coup, and helped negotiate the 2000 Fomboni Accords power-sharing agreement in which the federal presidency rotates among the three islands, and each island maintains its own local government. AZALI won the 2002 Presidential election, and each island in the archipelago elected its own president. AZALI stepped down in 2006 and President SAMBI took office. Since 2006, Anjouan’s President Mohamed BACAR has refused to work effectively with the Union presidency. This year BACAR effected Anjouan’s de-facto secession from the Union, refusing to step down in favor of fresh Anjouanais elections when Comoros’ other islands held legitimate elections in July. The African Union (AU) has stepped in to assist in resolving the political crisis, including applying sanctions and a naval blockade on Anjouan, but the situation remains at an impasse.
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
Map references:Africa
Area:total: 2,170 sq km
land: 2,170 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 extremes:lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Le Kartala 2,360 m
Natural resources:NEGL
Land use:arable land: 35.87%
permanent crops: 23.32%
other: 40.81% (2005)
Irrigated land:NA
Total renewable water resources:1.2 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):total: 0.01 cu km/yr (48%/5%/47%)
per capita: 13 cu m/yr (1999)
Natural hazards:cyclones possible during rainy season (December to April); Le Kartala on Grand Comore is an active volcano
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, 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
Population:711,417 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 42.6% (male 151,920/female 150,851)
15-64 years: 54.4% (male 191,096/female 196,120)
65 years and over: 3% (male 9,933/female 11,497) (2007 est.)
Median age:total: 18.7 years
male: 18.4 years
female: 18.9 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate:2.84% (2007 est.)
Birth rate:36.35 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate:7.95 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate:0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.007 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.974 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.864 male(s)/female
total population: 0.985 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate:total: 70.66 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 78.86 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 62.21 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:total population: 62.73 years
male: 60.37 years
female: 65.15 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate:4.97 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS—adult prevalence rate:0.12% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS—people living with HIV/AIDS:NA
Nationality:noun: Comoran(s)
adjective: Comoran
Ethnic groups:Antalote, Cafre, Makoa, Oimatsaha, Sakalava
Religions:Sunni Muslim 98%, Roman Catholic 2%
Languages:Arabic (official), French (official), Shikomoro (a blend of Swahili and Arabic)
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 56.5%
male: 63.6%
female: 49.3% (2003 est.)
Country name:conventional long form: Union of the Comoros
conventional short form: Comoros
local long form: Union des Comores
local short form: Comores
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*; Grande Comore, Anjouan, Domoni*, Fomboni*, Moheli, Moroni*, Mutsamudu*
Independence:6 July 1975 (from France)
National holiday:Independence Day, 6 July (1975)
Constitution:23 December 2001
Legal system:French and Islamic law in a new consolidated code
Suffrage:18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:chief of state: President Ahmed Abdallah SAMBI (since 26 May 2006)
head of government: President Ahmed Abdallah SAMBI (since 26 May 2006)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: as defined by the 2001 constitution, the presidency rotates every four years among the elected presidents from the three main islands in the Union; election last held 14 May 2006 (next to be held by May 2010); prime minister appointed by the president; note – the post of prime minister has been vacant since May 2002
election results: Ahmed Abdallah SAMBI elected president; percent of vote – Ahmed Abdallah SAMBI 58.0%, Ibrahim HALIDI 28.3%, Mohamed DJAANFAMI 13.7%
Legislative branch:unicameral Assembly of the Union (33 seats; 15 deputies are selected by the individual islands’ local assemblies and 18 by universal suffrage; to serve for five years);
elections: last held 18 and 25 April 2004 (next to be held in 2009)
election results: percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – CdIA 12, CRC 6; note – 15 additional seats are filled by deputies from local island assemblies
Judicial branch:Supreme Court or Cour Supremes (two members appointed by the president, two members elected by the Federal Assembly, one elected by the Council of each island, and others are former presidents of the republic)
Political parties and leaders:Convention for the Renewal of the Comoros or CRC [AZALI Assowmani]; Camp of the Autonomous Islands or CdIA (a coalition of parties organized by the islands’ presidents in opposition to the Union President); Front National pour la Justice or FNJ [Ahmed RACHID] (Islamic party in opposition); Mouvement pour la Democratie et le Progress or MDP-NGDC [Abbas DJOUSSOUF]; Parti Comorien pour la Democratie et le Progress or PCDP [Ali MROUDJAE]; Rassemblement National pour le Development or RND [Omar TAMOU, Abdoulhamid AFFRAITANE]
Political pressure groups and leaders:NA
International organization participation:ACCT, ACP, AfDB, AMF, AU, COMESA, FAO, FZ, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, InOC, Interpol, IOC, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAS, NAM, OIC, OIF, OPCW (signatory), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US:chief of mission: Representative to the US and Ambassador to the UN Mohamed TOIHIRI
chancery: Mission to the US, 336 East 45th Street (2nd floor), New York, NY 10017
telephone: [1] (212) 750-1637
Diplomatic representation from the US:the US does not have an embassy in Comoros; the ambassador to Madagascar is accredited to Comoros
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, Njazidja, Nzwani, and Mahore (Mayotte – territorial collectivity of France, but claimed by Comoros)
note: the crescent, stars, and color green are traditional symbols of Islam
Economy—overview:One of the world’s poorest countries, Comoros is made up of three islands that have 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. Agriculture, including fishing, hunting, and forestry, contributes 40% to GDP, employs 80% of the labor force, and provides most of the exports. The country is not self-sufficient in food production; rice, the main staple, accounts for the bulk of imports. The government – which is hampered by internal political disputes – is struggling to upgrade education and technical training, privatize commercial and industrial enterprises, improve health services, diversify exports, promote tourism, and reduce the high population growth rate. The political problems caused the economy to contract in 2007. Remittances from 150,000 Comorans abroad help supplement GDP.
GDP (purchasing power parity):$1.262 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):$436 million (2007 est.)
GDP—real growth rate:-1% (2007 est.)
GDP—per capita (PPP):$600 (2005 est.)
GDP—composition by sector:agriculture: 40%
industry: 4%
services: 56% (2001 est.)
Labor force:144,500 (1996 est.)
Labor force—by occupation:agriculture: 80%
industry and services: 20% (1996 est.)
Unemployment rate:20% (1996 est.)
Population below poverty line:60% (2002 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):3% (2005 est.)
Budget:revenues: $27.6 million
expenditures: $NA (2001 est.)
Agriculture—products:vanilla, cloves, ylang-ylang, perfume essences, copra, coconuts, bananas, cassava (tapioca)
Industries:fishing, tourism, perfume distillation
Industrial production growth rate:-2% (1999 est.)
Electricity—production:20 million kWh (2005)
Electricity—consumption:18.6 million kWh (2005)
Electricity—exports:0 kWh (2005)
Electricity—imports:0 kWh (2005)
Oil—production:0 bbl/day (2005)
Oil—consumption:700 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil—exports:0 bbl/day (2004)
Oil—imports:709.1 bbl/day (2004)
Oil—proved reserves:0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas—production:0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—consumption:0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—exports:0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—imports:0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas—proved reserves:0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance:$-17 million (2005 est.)
Exports:$32 million f.o.b. (2006)
Exports—commodities:vanilla, ylang-ylang (perfume essence), cloves, copra
Exports—partners:Netherlands 35.8%, France 18.3%, Italy 12.8%, Singapore 7.8%, Turkey 5%, US 4.6% (2006)
Imports:$143 million f.o.b. (2006)
Imports—commodities:rice and other foodstuffs, consumer goods, petroleum products, cement, transport equipment
Imports—partners:France 24.8%, UAE 9.9%, South Africa 6.4%, Pakistan 6.3%, Kenya 5%, China 4.8%, India 4.4%, Italy 4.2% (2006)
Debt—external:$232 million (2000 est.)
Economic aid—recipient:$25.23 million (2005 est.)
Currency (code):Comoran franc (KMF)
Exchange rates:Comoran francs (KMF) per US dollar – NA (2007), 392.03 (2006), 395.6 (2005), 396.21 (2004), 435.9 (2003)
note: the Comoran franc is pegged to the euro at a rate of 491.9677 Comoran francs per euro
Fiscal year:calendar year
Telephones—main lines in use:16,900 (2005)
Telephones—mobile cellular:16,100 (2005)
Telephone system:general assessment: sparse system of microwave radio relay and HF radiotelephone communication stations; fixed-line connections only about 2 per 100 persons; mobile cellular usage about 2 per 100 persons
domestic: HF radiotelephone communications and microwave radio relay
international: country code – 269; HF radiotelephone communications to Madagascar and Reunion
Radio broadcast stations:AM 1, FM 4, shortwave 1 (2001)
Television broadcast stations:NA
Internet country
Internet hosts:6 (2007)
Internet users:21,000 (2006)
Airports:4 (2007)
Airports—with paved runways:total: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2007)
Roadways:total: 880 km
paved: 673 km
unpaved: 207 km (1999)
Merchant marine:total: 144 ships (1000 GRT or over) 657,755 GRT/954,498 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 11, cargo 101, chemical tanker 3, container 1, livestock carrier 4, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 9, refrigerated cargo 6, roll on/roll off 6, specialized tanker 1
foreign-owned: 70 (Bangladesh 1, Bulgaria 1, Cyprus 1, Greece 8, India 2, Kenya 1, Kuwait 1, Lebanon 5, Norway 1, Pakistan 2, Philippines 1, Russia 9, Saudi Arabia 1, Syria 8, Turkey 8, Ukraine 13, UAE 5, US 2) (2007)
Ports and terminals:Mayotte, Mutsamudu
Military branches:National Development Army (AND): Comoran Security Force; Comoran Federal Police (2007)
Manpower available for military service:males age 18-49: 138,940
females age 18-49: 139,491 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:males age 18-49: 98,792
females age 18-49: 106,415 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures—percent of GDP:2.8% (2006)
Transnational Issues
Disputes—international:claims French-administered Mayotte