Comoros
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Brief History

Comoros, officially known as the Union of the Comoros, achieved independence from France on July 6, 1975. Since then, it has witnessed 20 coups or attempted coups. In January 1992, amid continued unrest, a new transitional government of national union was installed, as constitutional reforms were debated and prepared for referendum. The islands of Anjouan and Mohéli declared their independence from the Comoros in 1997, in an attempt to restore French rule. The elections in 2006 were won by Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi, a Sunni Muslim cleric nicknamed the "Ayatollah" for his time spent studying Islam in Iran, who allowed for the first peaceful and democratic exchange of power for the archipelago. The African Union (AU) initially attempted to resolve the political crisis brought about by Bacar, who refused to step down for the Anjouanais elections, by applying sanctions and a naval blockade on Anjouan, but in March 2008, AU and Comoran soldiers seized the island. This change was accepted by the residents.

Geography

Comoros, capital Moroni, is an archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean in Southern African covering an area of 2,235 square kilometers. It is the sixth-smallest African nation by population—although it has one of the highest population densities in Africa. It is located off the eastern coast of Africa, on the northern end of the Mozambique Channel, between northeastern Mozambique and northwestern Madagascar. Other countries near to the Comoros are Tanzania to the northwest and the Seychelles to the northeast. The climate is generally tropical and mild, and the two major seasons are distinguishable by their relative heavy rains -from November to May. The islands are volcanic in origin

People

Comoros has a population of 773,407 (2010) of many ethnic groups such as the Antalote, Cafre, Makoa, Oimatsaha, and Sakalava, whose official languages are French and Arabic. Another language is Shikomoro. The literacy rate is 56.5% (2003) and the unemployment rate is 20% (1996). Its religions are distributed among 98% Sunni Muslims and 2% Roman Catholics. The islands' indigenous population consists almost entirely of persons of mixed African, Malagasy, Malay, and Arab descent.

Government

The government of Comoros is subject to a republic system, composed of three islands. The legal system is based on French and Islamic law in a new consolidated code. It has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction. The chief of state and head of government is President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi since May 26, 2006. The official currency is the Comorian franc, where 496.05 francs are equivalent to US$1.

Economy

Comoros is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 60% of the population living below the poverty line (2002) and GDP per capita is US$1,000 (2009). 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, is the leading sector of the economy, and employs 80% of the labor force (1996) and accounts for 40% of the GDP (2001). Export income is heavily reliant on the three main crops of vanilla -Comoros is the world's second largest producer of vanilla- cloves, and ylang-ylang and Comoros' export earnings are easily disrupted by disasters such as fires. The country is not self sufficient in terms of food; as a result, over 50% of food required is imported annually, including rice. The fishing industry has potential but is still largely undeveloped. There are various small-scale industries, mostly sawmills, a soap factory, a printing plant, a small plastics factory, a soft-drink plant, and metalworking shops. It accounted for 4% of the GDP in 2001. Mineral resources are few. The tourism industry in Comoros is being developed; however, the unstable political situation in the country is preventing more growth. The country attracts around 20 000 tourists annually, mainly from South Africa and Europe.

The government struggles to enhance services of all kinds, privatize enterprises, diversify exports, boost tourism, and decrease population growth rate.

In September 2009 the IMF approved a three-year $21 million loan for Comoros.

Comoros is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).

The inflation rate is 3% (2007) and the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is estimated to be US$ 751.26 (2010).


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