COMOROS:  (From the Arabic Jazā’ir al-Qamar (جزائر القمر): “islands of the moon.”)

Some facts I’d like to mention about Comoros:

Demonym: Comorian(s)

HDI (2007) ▲ 0.561 (medium) (135th)

Drive on the :  right

President: Ahmed Abdallah M. Sambi

Political parties:

Politics of the Union of the Comoros takes place in a framework of a federal presidential republic, whereby the President of the Comoros is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. The Constitution of the Union of the Comoros was ratified by referendum on December 23, 2001, and the islands’ constitutions and executives were elected in the following months. It had previously been considered a military dictatorship, and the transfer of power from Azali Assoumani to Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi in May 2006 was the first peaceful transfer in Comorian history.

Executive power is exercised by the government. Federal legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The preamble of the constitution guarantees an Islamic inspiration in governance, a commitment to human rights, and several specific enumerated rights, democracy, “a common destiny” for all Comorians. Each of the islands (according to Title II of the Constitution) has a great amount of autonomy in the Union, including having their own constitutions (or Fundamental Law), president, and Parliament. The presidency and Assembly of the Union are distinct from each of the Islands’ governments. The presidency of the Union rotates between the islands. Anjouan holds the current presidency rotation, and so Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi is President of the Union; Mohéli and Ngazidja follow in four year terms

Coat of Arms

File:Coat of arms of Comoros.svg



The Comoros (pronounced /ˈkɒməroʊz/; Arabic: جزر القمر‎, Juzur al-Qamar), officially the Union of the Comoros (French: Union des Comores, Arabic: الاتّحاد القمريّ‎, al-Ittiḥād al-Qamariyy) is an archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean, 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 capital is Moroni on Grande Comore. At 1,862 km2 (719 sq mi) (excluding Mayotte), the Comoros is the third-smallest African nation by area. With a population estimated at 798,000 (excluding Mayotte), it is the sixth-smallest African nation by population—although it has one of the highest population densities in Africa. Its name derives from the Arabic word القمر qamar (“moon). Known as the Perfumed island, Comoros is the number one producer of Ylang-Ylang, a principle ingredient in perfumes. It is the second largest producer of vanilla. The archipelago is notable for its diverse culture and history, as a nation formed at the crossroads of many civilizations. Though in the contested island of Mayotte the sole official language is French, the “Union of the Comoros” has three official languages: Comorian (Shikomor), Arabic and French.

With fewer than a million people, the Comoros is one of the least populous countries in the world, but is also one of the most densely populated, with an average of 275 inhabitants per square kilometre (710 /sq mi). In 2001, 34% of the population was considered urban, but that is expected to grow, since rural population growth is negative, while overall population growth is still relatively high. Almost half of the population is younger than age 15. Major urban centers include Moroni, Mutsamudu, Domoni, Fomboni, and Tsémbéhou. There are between 200,000 to 350,000 Comorians living in France.

Comoros is also known as the nation where the 1938 discovery of the endangered species known as the  Coelecanth (or Gombessa) occured off its coast. The coelecanth is a “living fossil” thought to have been extinct for millions of years.


Photo: An endangered coelacanth fish

Thought to have been long extinct, scientists discovered these “living fossils” in 1938.

Famous Comorians:

Heads of state since independence include ‘Ali Soilih (1937–78), who came to power as a result of the 1975 coup and who died after the 1978 takeover; and Ahmad ‘Abdallah (1919–89), president briefly in 1975 and restored to power in 1978. Mercenary Bob Denard (b. France, 1929) virtually ruled the country through figurehead presidents between 1978 and 1989, when France negotiated his departure after the assassination of ‘Abdallah. Col. Assoumani Azzali (b.1959?) took power in a coup in 1999, assuming the titles of president, prime minister, and defense minister

Read more: Famous comorians – Comoros – power


Media and Culture

Comorian (Shikomori) is the most widely used language on the Comoros. It is a close relative of Swahili; like Swahili, it is a Bantu language with approximately 30% of its vocabulary derived from Arabic. It is one of the three official languages of the Comoros, next to French and Arabic. Each island has a slightly different dialect; that of Anjouan is called Shindzwani, that of Moheli Shimwali, that of Mayotte Shimaore, and that of Grande Comore Shingazidja. No official alphabet existed in 1992, but Arabic and Latin scripts were both used even though they are not native to the region.

There is a government owned national newspaper in Comoros,  Al-Watwan], published in Moroni; Kwezi is also published on Mayotte. Radio Comoros is the national radio service and Comoros National TV is the television service.


There are 15 physicians per 100,000 persons. Fertility rate was 4.7 per adult woman in 2004. Life expectancy at birth is 67 for females and 62 for males.


Almost all of the educated populace of the Comoros has attended Quranic schools at some point in their life, often before regular schooling. Here boys and girls are taught about the Quran, and memorize it. Some parents specifically choose this early schooling to offset French schools children usually attend later. Since independence and the ejection of French teachers, the education system has been plagued by poor teacher training and poor results, though recent stability may allow for substantial improvements. In 2000, 44.2 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years were attending school. There is a general lack of facilities, equipment, qualified teachers, textbooks and other resources. Salaries for teachers are often so far in arrears that many refuse to work.

National dress:

The women’s dress is a shiromeni (shiromani), which can be lively colored long dresses or skirts. The women also have a traditional form of dress that involves the use of sandalwood and coral paste as a beauty mask. A kanzu is a white or cream colored robe worn by men in East African countries. In English, the robe is called a tunic. The kanzu is an ankle or floor length garment.


National dish:

The typical Comoros meal may ontain rice and meat, seasoned with one of the many locally produced ingredients like coriander, vanilla, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Also very famous in this country are fish dishes like the one called “Langouste a la vanille”. The national dish of Comoros, Langouste a La Vanille, or Lobster in Vanilla Sauce, is a very rich dish made with lobster boiled in vanilla sauce.  The dish has its roots in France and is a melding of French culinary and Comorian local produce.  

Here is a recipe of Langouste a La Vanille, courtesy of the NYT:


Roast Lobster With Vanilla Sauce

Adapted from Alain Senderens, Lucas-Carton, Paris

50 minutes


  • 2 live lobsters, 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-pounds each
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 7 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3/4 pound tender spinach, stemmed
  • 1 pound watercress, stemmed


Place a roasting pan large enough to hold the lobsters in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. With the tip of a sharp knife pierce lobsters between the eyes to sever the spinal cord. Crack claws using the blunt edge of a cleaver or a hammer. Place lobsters in the hot roasting pan, drizzle with oil and roast until red, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and set aside.
Melt 2 teaspoons of butter in a small saucepan, add the shallots and saute over low heat until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add wine and vinegar, raise heat and cook at a moderate boil until the liquid is reduced to 1 tablespoon, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in 6 tablespoons of butter, about 1 tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the sauce, stir to combine and strain into a clean saucepan. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, and set aside.
When the lobsters are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the claws. Detach the tails, and discard the heads. With a pair of scissors, cut the shell on the underside of each tail in half lengthwise, remove the meat and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Loosely cover the meat with aluminum foil, and keep warm.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large pot, and add spinach and watercress. Stir until greens have melted down, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are tender, about 5 minutes. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.
To serve, reheat the sauce over low heat until warm, whisking constantly. Place a bed of greens on each plate, arrange the lobster meat on top and spoon the sauce over the lobster. Serve immediately.
2 servings
  • NOTE

    Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 650 calories, 50 grams fat, 230 milligrams cholesterol, 1,385 milligrams sodium, 40 grams protein, 9 grams carbohydrate.



Comorian music:

The Comorian music is historically linked to both East Africa and France, and now has a strong Malagasy influence. Zanzibar’s taarab music, however, remains the most influential genre on the islands, and a Comorian version called twarab is popular. Leading twarab bands include Sambeco and Belle Lumière, as well as star singer Mohammed Hassan. Comorian instruments include the ‘ud and violin, the most frequent accompaniment for twarab, as well as gabusi (a type of lute) and ndzendze. Sega music from nearby Mauritius and Réunion islands is also popular.
Modern musicians like Abou Chihabi, who composed the Comorian national anthem and is known for his reggae-tinged pan-African variet music, and reggae/zouk/soukous fusionists like Maalesh and Salim Ali Amir, as well as Nawal, a singer-songwriter and instrumentalist.

Music of the Comoros ranges from the classic folk tradition music, to the contemporary, as seen here with the artist Barezi singing Comorian zouk.


National pasttime:

A wide variety of sports are popular in Comoros, including football (soccer), basketball, athletics (track and field), swimming, tennis, and cycling, most of which were introduced during the period of French colonialism. Comoros participates in several regional and international competitions, such as the Aces Cup (a Comoros-Mayotte basketball competition), the Indian Ocean Games, and the Francophone Games.

Famous Comorons:

This is a list of notable people from the Comoros.

  • Abou Chihabi, musician
  • Al Moustoifa Idarousse, musician
  • Wanamah, musician
  • Nawal, singer/songwriter, musician
  • Ali Mroivili, artist
  • Amad Mdahoma, journalist and editor
  • Lubaina Himid, painter and academic
  • Mohamed Ali M’Ze, painter
  • Ali Mroivilli, painter
  • Napalo, painter and sculptor
  • Said Bacar Housseine, artist
  • Oubeidi Mze Chei, government minister and banker
  • Moinaecha Cheikh Yahaya, educationalist, activist, government minister
  • Soeuf Elbadawi, journalist
  • Amad Mdahoma, journalist and editor
  • Allaoui Sad Omar, journalist and publication director
  • said Ali Kemal, Chief of the Royal Family and former Comorian minister
  • Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, president of Comoros
  • Mohamed Halifa, director general of the Central Bank of Comoros
  • Ahmed Djabir, Permanent Representative-designate to the U.N. for Comoros
  • Azali Assoumani, Former President of Comoros
  • Ayouba Combo, Former interim head of state of the Comoros
  • Sakina M’sa, Fashion designer
  • Rohff, French rapper born In the Union Of Comoros, who lives in Vitry-sur-Seine


File:Moroni Mosque Photo by Sascha Grabow.jpg
A mosque in Moroni. (SOURCE)


Fast Facts

Moroni; 53,000
1,862 square kilometers (719 square miles)
Arabic, French, Shikomoro
Sunni Muslim, Roman Catholic
Comoran franc
Life Expectancy:
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $700
Literacy Percent:


Comoros Facts Flag

File:Flag of the Comoros.svg


Map: Comoros

(Enlarged map)

The Comoros are a group of volcanic islands in the Mozambique Channel between northern Madagascar and Africa. The people share African-Arab origins. In 1975 three of the so-called perfume islands voted for independence from France; the fourth, Mayotte, elected to remain a dependency. Some 18 coups, or attempted coups, since independence have created great instability. In 1997 the islands of Anjouan and Mohéli declared independence, but a new federal constitution in 2001 brought the islands back together. Most inhabitants make their living from subsistence agriculture or fishing; exports include vanilla and essences used in the manufacture of perfumes.


  • Industry: Tourism, perfume distillation
  • Agriculture: Vanilla, cloves, perfume essences, copra
  • Exports: Vanilla, ylangylang, cloves, perfume oil, copra

—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition


Photo: Harbor Bay in Moroni

A Friday Mosque overlooks Harbor Bay in Moroni, the capital.

Photograph by Jean du Boisberranger/Getty Images






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  1. I finally got a good chance to stop by and check out your site. Glad you found a good resource. I have to say that the diversity of African countries and dishes has made this portion of my journey both fascinating and a bit challenging. Also it is noteworthy that your information is far more complete than mine will be. I salute your thoroughness. Please stop by again as I will be stopping here as well…
    Eric Ackerson –

  2. Zelda

    Wonderful post. Sheds much needed light on one of the countries of Africa. Looking forward to reading other posts of yours on this vast and often misunderstood continent.

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