Region: Southern Africa
Population: 731,775 (July 2008 est.)
Surface area: 2,170 sq km
Currency: Comoran franc (KMF)
GDP per Capita: Purchasing power parity US $1,100 (2007 est.)
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 favor 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.
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, 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.
Major Export Commodities: vanilla, ylang-ylang (perfume essence), cloves, copra
Remittances: US $12 million (2006)
Human Development Index 2007/2008 ranking: 134 out of 177
Official Development Assistance and Major Development Partners: Net ODA in 2006 was US $ 19.93 million. Major development partners include France, IDA, and the European Community.
Total External Debt: US$ 232 million (2000 est.)
United Nations Membership Date: 12 November 1975
New York Mission:
Permanent Mission of the Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros to the United Nations
866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 418
New York, N.Y. 10017 USA
CIA World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. www.cia.gov
World Development Indicators. World Bank www.worldbank.org
Development, Recipient Aid Charts. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. www.oecd.org
Human Development Report 2007/2008.United Nations Development Programme. www.undp.org
Updated June 2008