Comoros

 

Comoros has endured more than 20 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. In 2007, BACAR effected Anjouan’s de-facto secession from the Union, refusing to step down in favour of fresh Anjouanais elections 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 on Anjouan, but in March 2008, AU and Comoran soldiers seized the island. The move was generally welcomed by the island’s inhabitants.

 

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
People:
Population: 737,284 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 41.6% (male 166,141/female 164,788)

15-64 years: 55.3% (male 217,046/female 222,093)

65 years and over: 3.1% (male 11,053/female 13,562) (2011 est.)

Government:
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)

Communications:
Telephones – main lines in use: 23,600 (2011)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 216,400 (2011)
Transportation:
Airports: 4 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 4

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2012)

Military:
Military branches: Army of National Development (l’Armee du Development Nationale, AND): Comoran Security Force (also called Comoran Defence Force (Force Comorienne de Defence FCD, includes Gendarmerie)), Comoran Coast Guard, Comoran Federal Police (2011)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 184,236

females age 16-49: 183,363 (2010 est.)

Economy:

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 labour 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 labour 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.

Transnational Issues:

Disputes – international:

claims French-administered Mayotte