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The federalist state with the official name “Union des Comores” consists of three of the four main islands of the Comoros archipelago and lies between the eastern coast of the African continent (Mozambique, distance approx. 300 km) and the island of Madagascar (distance approx. 400 km). The fourth main island of the archipelago, Mayotte (Maoré), is French overseas territory. The territory of the Union of the Comoros covers 1 862 km².

Njazidja (Grande Comore) is the largest of the three islands with an area of 1 146 km², followed by Nzwami (Anjouan) with 424 km² and Mwali (Mohéli) with 290 km². All the islands are of volcanic origin and mountainous. Besides deeply furrowed slopes, plateaus and hilly landscapes are characteristic. The highest elevation of the Comoros is the still active volcano Kartala on the island Njazidja, which is 2 361 m high and erupted for the last time in 1977. On the geologically oldest island Mwali there are no active volcanoes anymore, here the erosion has eroded the mountain peaks up to heights of a few hundred meters. The most fertile and most densely populated island is Nzwami, with a multitude of waters (such as the Lac Salé crater lake) and plateaus crossed by deep valleys.

The coastal strips on all three islands are mostly narrow, the coasts themselves rocky and surrounded by coral reefs. The capital of the Union of the Comoros, Moroni, lies on the island of Njazidja.

Political System

The Union of the Comoros is an Islamic Federal Republic; its legal system is based on the Islamic Sharia and the French system. The Union is made up of three islands on the basis of the 2001 Constitution. Each island has extensive autonomy rights, has its own parliament and elects a governor.

The head of state of the Union of the Comoros is also head of government (since May 2011 Ikililou Dhoinine) and is elected every five years by each of the three islands in turn. It appoints the ministers.

The parliament, the Assemblée de l’Union, has 33 members. Nine of them are delegated by the individual island assemblies, 24 by universal suffrage. The term of office is five years.

Economy

As one of the poorest countries in the world, the Union of the Comoros is highly dependent on foreign financial and development aid. The main problems of the economy are the lack of raw materials, the rapid growth of the population, its low level of education and high unemployment. Almost half of the population lives below the poverty line.

The most important economic sector is agriculture, which accounts for around 45% of gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 80% of the working population. For the population’s own needs, maize, potatoes, cassava, bananas and rice are cultivated. Food must be imported. The most important export articles are vanilla, cocoa, copra, cloves, pepper and ylang-ylang, from which the raw material for perfume is extracted. The export products are mainly grown on plantations owned by French companies.

The industry is poorly developed with only 4%. Small companies process food and produce soap and essential oils. Despite several initiatives, tourism plays a subordinate role in the Comorian economy.

The most important trading partner for exports and imports (food, petroleum products, machinery, chemical products) is France; imports are also primarily from South Africa and the Arab Emirates, with exports primarily to the USA and Singapore.

The road network covers a total of around 880 km, of which around 670 km is asphalted. The individual islands are connected by flights and shipping lines. There is an international airport on the island of Nyazidya. Currency is the Comoros franc.