Map of the Comoros

Comoros Flag

Flag description: green with a white crescent in the centre of the field, its points facing downward; there are four white five-pointed stars placed in a line between the points of the crescent; the crescent, stars, and colour green are traditional symbols of Islam; the four stars represent the four main islands of the archipelago - Mwali, Njazidja, Nzwani, and Mayotte (a territorial collectively of France, but claimed by Comoros); the design, the most recent of several, is described in the constitution approved by referendum on 7 June 1992.

Location: Southern Africa, group of islands in the Mozambique Channel, about two-thirds of the way between northern Madagascar and northern Mozambique

Geographic coordinates: 12 10 S, 44 15 E

Climate: tropical marine; rainy season (November to May)

Independence: 6 July 1975 (from France)

Nationality: Comoran(s)

Capital City: Moroni

Population: 578,400 (July 2000 est.)

Head of State: President AZALI Assoumani

Area: 2,170 sq km

Type of Government: independent republic

Currency: vanilla, ylang-ylang, cloves, perfume oil, copra

Major peoples: Antalote, Cafre, Makoa, Oimatsaha, Sakalava.

Religion: Sunni Muslim 98%, Roman Catholic 2%

Official Language: Arabic, French

Principal Languages: Arabic, French, Comoran (a blend of Swahili and Arabic)

Major Exports: 1 Comoran franc (CF) = 100 centimes

History: 5th century AD First settled by Malay-Polynesian immigrants.

7th century Converted to Islam by Arab seafarers and fell under the rule of local sultans.

late 16th century First visited by European navigators.

1886 Moheli island in South became a French protectorate.

1904 Slave trade abolished, ending influx of Africans.

1912 Grande Comore and Anjouan, the main islands, joined Moheli to become a French colony, which was attached to Madagascar from 1914.

1947 Became a French Overseas Territory separate from Madagascar.

1961 Internal self-government achieved.

1975 Independence achieved from France, but island of Mayotte to the South East voted to remain part of France. Joined the United Nations.

1976 President Ahmed Abdallah overthrown in a coup by Ali Soilih; relations deteriorated with France as a Maoist-Islamic socialist programme was pursued.

1978 Soilih killed by French mercenaries led by Bob Denard. Federal Islamic republic proclaimed, with exiled Abdallah restored as president; diplomatic relations re- established with France.

1979 The Comoros became a one- party state; powers of the federal government increased.

1989 Abdallah killed by French mercenaries who, under French and South African pressure, turned authority over to French administration; Said Muhammad Djohar became president in a multiparty democracy.

1990-92 Anti government coups foiled.

1993 Djohar's supporters won overall majority in assembly elections.

1995 Djohar overthrown in coup led by Col Denard, who was persuaded to withdraw by French troops.

1996 Djohar allowed to return from exile in a non-political capacity and Muhammad Taki Abdoulkarim elected president. National Rally for Development (RND) virtually unopposed in assembly elections. Ahmed Abdou appointed prime minister.

1997 Secessionist rebels took control of the island of Anjouan.