CIA World Fact Book, 2004/Comoros

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CIA WFB Seal.png Comoros Flag of the Comoros.svg
map of Comoros

Introduction Comoros
Background: Unstable Comoros has endured 19 coups or attempted coups since gaining independence from France in 1975. In 1997, the islands of Anjouan and Moheli declared their independence from Comoros. In 1999, military chief Col. AZALI seized power. He pledged to resolve the secessionist crisis through a confederal arrangement named the 2000 Fomboni Accord. In December 2001, voters approved a new constitution and presidential elections took place in the spring of 2002. Each island in the archipelago elected its own president and a new union president was sworn in on 26 May 2002.

Geography Comoros
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
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 2,170 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 2,170 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly more than 12 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 340 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical marine; rainy season (November to May)
Terrain: volcanic islands, interiors vary from steep mountains to low hills
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Le Kartala 2,360 m
Natural resources: NEGL
Land use: arable land: 35.87%
permanent crops: 23.32%
other: 40.81% (2001)
Irrigated land: NA sq km
Natural hazards: cyclones possible during rainy season (December to April); Le Kartala on Grand Comore is an active volcano
Environment - current issues: soil degradation and erosion results from crop cultivation on slopes without proper terracing; deforestation
Environment - international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: important location at northern end of Mozambique Channel

People Comoros
Population: 651,901 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 42.8% (male 140,083; female 139,245)
15-64 years: 54.2% (male 174,216; female 179,050)
65 years and over: 3% (male 9,136; female 10,171) (2004 est.)
Median age: total: 18.6 years
male: 18.3 years
female: 18.9 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.94% (2004 est.)
Birth rate: 38 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate: 8.63 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.9 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 77.22 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 68.28 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 85.9 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 61.57 years
male: 59.29 years
female: 63.91 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate: 5.15 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.12% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Comoran(s)
adjective: Comoran
Ethnic groups: Antalote, Cafre, Makoa, Oimatsaha, Sakalava
Religions: Sunni Muslim 98%, Roman Catholic 2%
Languages: Arabic (official), French (official), Shikomoro (a blend of Swahili and Arabic)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 56.5%
male: 63.6%
female: 49.3% (2003 est.)

Government Comoros
Country name: conventional long form: Union of the Comoros
conventional short form: Comoros
local short form: Comores
local long form: Union des Comores
Government type: independent republic
Capital: Moroni
Administrative divisions: 3 islands; Grande Comore (Njazidja), Anjouan (Nzwani), and Moheli (Mwali); note - there are also four municipalities named Domoni, Fomboni, Moroni, and Moutsamoudou
Independence: 6 July 1975 (from France)
National holiday: Independence Day, 6 July (1975)
Constitution: 23 December 2001
note: a Transitional National Unity Government (GUNT) was formed on 20 January 2002 following the passing of the new constitution; the GUNT governed until the presidential elections on 14 April 2002
Legal system: French and Sharia (Islamic) law in a new consolidated code
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President AZALI Assoumani (since 26 May 2002); note - following a 1999 coup AZALI was appointed president; in January 2002 he resigned his position to run in the 14 April 2002 presidential elections; Prime Minister Hamada Madi BOLERO was appointed interim president until replaced again by AZALI in May 2002 when BOLERO was appointed Minister of External Defense and Territorial Security; the president is both the chief of state and the head of government
election results: President AZALI Assoumani elected president with 75% of the vote
elections: as defined by the 2001 constitution, the presidency rotates every four years among the elected presidents from the three main islands in the Union; election last held 14 April 2002 (next to be held NA April 2007); prime minister appointed by the president; note - AZALI has not appointed a Prime Minister since he was sworn into office in May 2002
head of government: President AZALI Assoumani (since 26 May 2002); note - following a 1999 coup AZALI was appointed president; in January 2002 he resigned his position to run in the 14 April 2002 presidential elections; Prime Minister Hamada Madi BOLERO was appointed interim president until replaced again by AZALI in May 2002 when BOLERO was appointed Minister of External Defense and Territorial Security; the president is both the chief of state and the head of government
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
Legislative branch: unicameral Assembly of the Union (30 seats; half the deputies are selected by the individual islands' local assemblies and the other half by universal suffrage; deputies serve for five years); note - elections for the former legislature, the Federal Assembly (dissolved in 1999) were held on 1 and 8 December 1996; the next elections for the Assembly of the Union were scheduled to be held on 18 and 25 April 2004
Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Cour Supremes (two members appointed by the president, two members elected by the Federal Assembly, one elected by the Council of each island, and others are former presidents of the republic)
Political parties and leaders: Forces pour l'Action Republicaine or FAR [Col. Abdourazak ABDULHAMID]; Forum pour la Redressement National or FRN (alliance of 12 parties); Front Democratique or FD [Moustoifa Said CHEIKH]; Front National pour la Justice or FNJ (Islamic party in opposition) [Ahmed RACHID]; Movement des Citoyens pour la Republique or MCR [Mahamoud MRADABI]; Mouvement Populaire Anjouanais or MPA (Anjouan separatist movement) [leader NA]; Mouvement pour la Democratie et le Progress or MDP-NGDC [Abbas DJOUSSOUF]; Movement pour le Socialisme et la Democratie or MSD (splinter group of FD) [Abdou SOEFOU]; Parti Comorien pour la Democratie et le Progress or PCDP [Ali MROUDJAE]; Rassemblement National pour le Development or RND (party of the government) [Omar TAMOU, Abdoulhamid AFFRAITANE]
Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: ACCT, ACP, AfDB, AMF, AU, FAO, FZ, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS (observer), ILO, IMF, IMO, InOC, Interpol, IOC, ITU, LAS, NAM, OIC, OPCW (signatory), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WMO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Mahmoud M. ABOUD (ambassador to the US and Canada and permanent representative to the UN)
chancery: (temporary) care of the Permanent Mission of the Union of the Comoros to the United Nations, 420 East 50th Street, New York, NY 10022
telephone: [1] (212) 972-8010 and 223-2711
FAX: [1] (212) 983-4712 and 715-0699
Diplomatic representation from the US: the US does not have an embassy in Comoros; the ambassador to Mauritius is accredited to Comoros
Flag description: four equal horizontal bands of yellow (top), white, red, and blue with a green isosceles triangle based on the hoist; centered within the triangle is a white crescent with the convex side facing the hoist and four white, five-pointed stars placed vertically in a line between the points of the crescent; the horizontal bands and the four stars represent the four main islands of the archipelago - Mwali, Njazidja, Nzwani, and Mayotte (a territorial collectivity of France, but claimed by Comoros); the crescent, stars, and color green are traditional symbols of Islam

Economy Comoros
Economy - overview: 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 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, contributes 40% to GDP, employs 80% of the labor 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, to privatize commercial and industrial enterprises, to improve health services, to diversify exports, to promote tourism, and to reduce the high population growth rate. Increased foreign support is essential if the goal of 4% annual GDP growth is to be met. Remittances from 150,000 Comorans abroad help supplement GDP.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $441 million (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $700 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 40%
industry: 4%
services: 56% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line: 60% (2002 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.5% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 144,500 (1996 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 80%
Unemployment rate: 20% (1996 est.)
Budget: revenues: $27.6 million
expenditures: NA, including capital expenditures of NA (2001 est.)
Agriculture - products: vanilla, cloves, perfume essences, copra, coconuts, bananas, cassava (tapioca)
Industries: tourism, perfume distillation
Industrial production growth rate: -2% (1999 est.)
Electricity - production: 21.27 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 19.78 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption: 700 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports: NA (2001)
Oil - imports: NA (2001)
Exports: $28 million f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities: vanilla, ylang-ylang, cloves, perfume oil, copra
Exports - partners: France 46.9%, Germany 18.8%, US 12.5% (2003)
Imports: $88 million f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities: rice and other foodstuffs, consumer goods; petroleum products, cement, transport equipment
Imports - partners: France 31.6%, Japan 13.7%, South Africa 10.3%, Kenya 5.1%, UAE 5.1%, Thailand 4.3% (2003)
Debt - external: $232 million (2000 est.)
Economic aid - recipient: $10 million (2001 est.)
Currency: Comoran franc (KMF)
Currency code: KMF
Exchange rates: Comoran francs (KMF) per US dollar - 435.9 (2003), 522.741 (2002), 549.779 (2001), 533.982 (2000), 461.775 (1999)
note: prior to January 1999, the official rate was pegged to the French franc at 75 Comoran francs per French franc; since 1 January 1999, the Comoran franc is pegged to the euro at a rate of 491.9677 Comoran francs per euro
Fiscal year: calendar year

Communications Comoros
Telephones - main lines in use: 13,200 (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 2,000 (2003)
Telephone system: general assessment: sparse system of microwave radio relay and HF radiotelephone communication stations
domestic: HF radiotelephone communications and microwave radio relay
international: country code - 269; HF radiotelephone communications to Madagascar and Reunion
Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 4, shortwave 1 (2001)
Radios: 90,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: NA
Televisions: 1,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .km
Internet hosts: 11 (2003)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 5,000 (2003)

Transportation Comoros
Highways: total: 880 km
paved: 673 km
unpaved: 207 km (1999 est)
Ports and harbors: Fomboni, Moroni, Moutsamoudou
Merchant marine: total: 62 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 452,801 GRT/681,343 DWT
by type: bulk 9, cargo 31, chemical tanker 1, combination bulk 1, livestock carrier 1, passenger 4, petroleum tanker 5, refrigerated cargo 3, roll on/roll off 1, short-sea/passenger 2, specialized tanker 4
foreign-owned: Bahamas 1, Bulgaria 1, Cyprus 1, Greece 7, Honduras 1, India 1, Kenya 1, Lebanon 7, Liberia 1, Marshall Islands 3, Pakistan 4, Panama 2, Russia 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1, Saudi Arabia 2, Syria 4, Turkey 21, United Kingdom 1, United States 1, Yemen 2 (2004 est.)
Airports: 4 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2004 est.)

Military Comoros
Military branches: Comoran Security Force
Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 154,843 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49: 91,825 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure: $6 million (2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 3% (2003)

This page was last updated on 1 January 2003

This is a snapshot of the CIA World Fact Book as it existed on 26 March 2005