27 interesting facts about Comoros

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The most interesting facts about Comoros, from enduring over 20 coups in just 40 years and the world’s largest producer of ylang-ylang.

underwater turtles in Comoros
Interesting facts about Comoros include its marine life (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Union of the Comoros
Population: 864,335
Area: 2,235 sq km
Capital city: Moroni
Major languages: Arabic, French, Shikomoro
Major religions: Sunni Muslim 
Time zone: UTC+3 (East Africa Time)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about Comoros

1. Comoros is an island nation located in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Southern Africa, between Mozambique and Madagascar.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

2. Comoros is known as the “Perfume Isles” due to their fragrant plant life, particularly that of the ylang-ylang flower.
– Source: CNN Travel

3. In fact, Comoros is the world’s largest producer of ylang-ylang, supplying around 80% of the world’s ylang-ylang flowers which form the base of the famous perfume Chanel No 5.
– Source: BBC Travel

A ylang-ylang flower
A ylang-ylang flower (Shutterstock)

4. The first confirmed human inhabitants of Comoros are believed to be of Malayo-Polynesian descent, arriving by the 5th or 6th century CE.
– Source: Britannica

5. The first Europeans known to Comoros are thought to have been the Portuguese during the late-16th century.
– Source: Britannica

6. In 1843, France officially took possession of the Comoros Islands, and in 1886, the archipelago became a French protectorate.
– Source: BBC News

A map of Comoros and south eastern Africa
Comoros is located in the Indian Ocean (Shutterstock)

7. In 1961, Comoros was given autonomy and following a 1974 referendum, the islands gained independence in 1975.
– Source: BBC News

8. The Comoros archipelago is actually made up of four main islands, as well as many smaller ones: Grande Comore, Moheli, Anjouan and Mayotte. However, Mayotte voted against independence and is still governed by France.
– Source: BBC News

9. The flag of Comoros is made up of four horizontal stripes of yellow, white, red and blue, as well as a green triangle featuring a white crescent and four white stars. The four stripes and stars represent the four main islands while the green and crescent represent Islam.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

The flag of Comoros flying against a blue sky
The flag of Comoros (Shutterstock)

10. Comoros is one of 27 countries that does not have a single UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, it does have four properties on the Tentative List of sites to be submitted for nomination.
– Source: UNESCOThe Telegraph

11. Comoros is one of the least visited countries in the world, only receiving around 28,000 tourists in 2017 (the latest available data).
– Source: UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

12. On the island of Grande Comore is the 2,361m (7,746ft)-high Karthala volcano, one of the most active in the world. It last erupted in 2007 with eruptions happening, on average, every 11 years, but rarely cause significant damage. The mountain, which is also the highest point in Comoros, is a popular trekking destination. 
– Source: Reuters, Lonely Planet

An ash field on the slopes of Karthala volcano
Karthala volcano (Shutterstock)

13. In 1997, the two smaller islands of Comoros, Moheli and Anjouan, broke away claiming resentment of domination by the main island, Grande Comore. They asked France to recolonise them but France refused and they rejoined the union in 2001.
– Source: The Economist

14. The name Comoros originates from the Arabic “Juzur al Qamar” meaning “Islands of the Moon”.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

15. The name of the capital city of Comoros, Moroni, derives from “mroni,” which means “at the river” in Shingazidja, the language spoken on the island of Grande Comore.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Boats along the shore of Moroni
The capital city of Comoros is Moroni (Shutterstock)

16. Comoros is Africa’s third-smallest country by area and Africa’s fourth-smallest by population.
– Source: World Bank1World Bank2

17. The national dish of Comoros is Langouste a la Vanille – grilled lobster in a creamy vanilla sauce.
– Source: CNN Travel

18. In 2021, Comoros qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time after they drew 0-0 at home to Togo. the country had never even won a major game until 2016 when they beat Botswana 1-0.
– Source: BBC Sport

19. The Comorian islands of Anjouan and Mohéli are the only place in the world where you can see the endangered Livingstone fruit bats. Their wingspan reaches 1.5m (4.9ft) and they live in small colonies high up in the mountains.
– Source: Lonely Planet

A Livingstone fruit bat hanging upside down in a tree
A Livingstone fruit bat (Shutterstock)

20. Natural resources in Comoros are in short supply so the islands’ chief exports are cloves, vanilla, cloves and essential oils used in perfume.
– Source: BBC News, Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC)

21. Opened in 2001, Mohéli National Park was the first protected area in Comoros. The park, which includes several marine reserves, is co-managed by village communities and aims to conserve the rich biodiversity found in the region.
– Source: United Nations Environmental Programme

22. The island of Mohéli is a significant turtle nesting site. Local villagers used to eat turtles, but now they are involved in scientific monitoring and turtle protection in order to promote ecotourism.
– Source: Lonely Planet

23. Comoros has a diverse range of endemic animal species including 21 species of birds, nine species of reptiles and two species of fruit bats, as well as over 500 endemic plant species.
– Source: WWF

A Comoros Green Pigeon (Treron griveaudi) perched in a tree tropical forest
A Comoros Green Pigeon (Shutterstock)

24. Since independence, Comoros has endured more than 20 coups and secession attempts. On average, a coup is attempted in Comoros every two years which has led the islands to be nicknamed “the coup-coup islands”.
– Source: United Nations High Commission for Refugees, The Economist

25. From 2007 to 2013, the entire Comoros population of 700,000 people were given three doses of a malaria drug derived from an ancient Chinese drug. By 2014, it was announced that malaria had been eliminated in Comoros.
– Source: CBS News

26. Three former presidents of Comoros were involved in a bizarre scheme to sell Comoros passports to fund development. The aim was to provide stateless people in the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait with Comoros citizenship in return for cash to help develop the poor Indian Ocean archipelago. The scheme fell apart with an estimated $100 million going missing.
– Source: Reuters, The Guardian

27. Comoros practises two distinct forms of marriage, known as the Petit Mariage and the Grand Mariage. A Grand Mariage can feature a host of elaborate rituals, last for two weeks and cost tens of thousands of dollars.
– Source: The Guardian


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