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Brief History About Comoros

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Three of the Comoro Islands make up the independent state of Comoros, which is located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa.

Mayotte, a fourth island of the Comorian archipelago is claimed by the country of Comoros but administered by France.

The Comorian archipelago’s volcanic islands are renowned for their outstanding natural beauty and have earned the nickname “perfumed islands” due to their fragrant plant life.

The four major islands of the archipelago, which the Comorian author Sitti Sad Youssouf described as “four small effervescent stones, wedged between the nearby large red island [Madagascar] and the Mozambican coast,” combine African, Arabic, Malagasy, and French influences.

They were once crucial in the significant Indian Ocean trade between East Africa and Asian ports like India and Japan.

Although the early history of the islands is unknown, it is believed that Arab and Persian traders first discovered them in antiquity.

Like Madagascar, the islands were first inhabited by a small number of Malayo-Indonesian peoples, and they didn’t become significantly populated until Bantu-speaking peoples from the continent of Africa moved there. It is believed that Shrzi Persians arrived later, making Sunni Islam the main faith.

The succeeding Shrzi sultanates maintained commercial ties with other nations bordering the Indian Ocean and created a lucrative slave and spice trade-based economy.

The importance of the islands as an entrepôt was significantly diminished by the opening of the Suez Canal, but not its strategic importance.

The Comorian Archipelago was placed under French control in 1886–1887, and in 1947 it was designated as a French overseas territory. This agreement was reached by the colonial powers of Europe. In 1975, three of the islands became independent.

The Comoros are a group of islands located in the Indian Ocean, close to Madagascar and the southeastern coast of Africa.

They are positioned about 290 km from the eastern coast of Africa, and the four main islands from north to south are Grande Comore, Mohéli, Anjouan, and Mayotte.

The biggest and highest island in the group is Grande Comore. Mount Karthala, an active volcano that is the highest point in the nation at 7,746 feet, is where it rises close to its southern end.

In the last two centuries, Karthala has erupted more than a dozen times. The town of Mitsamiouli is located on the island’s north coast, while Moroni, its capital, is situated on its west coast in the shadow of the volcano.

A broad plateau with an average elevation of about 600 meters lies to the north of Mount Karthala. Typically, the soils are shallow and the surface is rough. There are no enduring streams, and the coast lacks significant inlets, making it unsuitable for shipping.

The smallest island in the group is Mohéli. The island, which is mostly made up of a plateau with an average elevation of around 1,000 feet, finishes in a ridge that rises more than 790 meters above sea level in the west.

The hillsides are covered with dense forests, and the valleys are typically fruitful. Shipping is hampered by a large sea swell. The two largest towns in Mohéli are Nioumachoua in the southwest and Fomboni on the northern shore.

Anjouan is a triangular island that rises in the middle of Mount Ntingui, a volcanic mountain that is roughly 5,200 feet high (1,580 metres).

Despite the good soil coverage, many regions are no longer arable due to extensive erosion. No reliable natural harbors exist. The main town is Moutsamoudou, which is on the northwest coast. In the middle of the 1980s, its port facilities underwent modernization.

The oldest of the four islands, Mayotte, is located southeast of Anjouan. It is claimed by Comoros, whose claim has been acknowledged by the UN General Assembly, but its legal situation is still in flux, therefore France is still in charge of running it.

People of Comoros

The islanders represent a variety of ancestries. People from Madagascar and other African nations have mixed with Malay immigration and Arab and Persian traders.

Comorian (Shikomoro), a Bantu language related to Swahili and written in Arabic script, is spoken by the majority of the islanders.

The official languages are French, Arabic, and Comoran. The language of administration is French. Islam is the official religion of Comora, whereas Sunni Islam is the majority religion.

More than two-thirds of the people live in rural areas, and most of the population is located on the two bigger islands; Grande Comore comprises over half of the country’s population, Anjouan around two-fifths, and Mohéli less than one-tenth.

The most populated urban area in the nation is Moroni, the capital. Although infant mortality is a serious issue, Comoros has high birth and death rates and a population growth rate that is roughly double the global average. Over half of the population is under the age of 15.

Although schemes to cultivate corn (maize), coconuts, and chickens had been launched by 1981 in order to help the Comoros attain food self-sufficiency, the economy was still in terrible shape at the start of the 21st century due to overcrowding, subpar harvests, and high unemployment.

Cassava, sweet potatoes, bananas, and mountain (dry-field) rice are produced via subsistence farming, although a large portion of the nation’s food must be imported. Additionally, sheep, cattle, goats, and chickens are raised.

Although forestry makes a small contribution to overall agricultural production, it has significantly decreased due to a shortage of arable land and ylang-ylang production.

The majority of the islands are covered with plantations growing various products, including cacao, coffee, cloves, vanilla (mainly on Grande Comore and Anjouan), coconuts (primarily on Mohéli), and perfume plants (especially ylang-ylang).

Although forestry makes a small contribution to overall agricultural production, it has significantly decreased due to a shortage of arable land and ylang-ylang production.

The legal framework combines Islamic and French legal principles. The Supreme Court oversees the judicial system.

Additional elements include a Constitutional Court and the Higher Council of the Magistracy, both of which have the responsibility of assisting the president in establishing an impartial judiciary.

A High Council that deals with electoral and constitutional problems as well as presides over disputes involving the islands and the federal union is also present.

Cultural life

The unique cultural fusion of the Comoros is the result of numerous peoples coming together over the years. These diverse influences may be seen in contemporary Comorian culture, which incorporates many of them.

For instance, the towns on the islands combine elements of Middle Eastern, French, and continental African architecture. The foundation for year-round religious observance and the framework for daily living is a type of Islam that is culturally tolerant.

Traditional Comorian women decorate their faces with msinzano, a paste made of powdered coral and sandalwood, and wear colorful sari-like gowns called shiromani (French msindanu).

In a generational society, seniors who simultaneously have political sway are primarily responsible for religious and ritual tasks.

Public weddings that are elaborate and expensive and run up to three weeks are typical. The marriages are typically arranged between an older man and a younger lady, and the guy is responsible for paying for the celebrations as well as for giving his bride a dowry.

Tourists are usually welcome to attend these gatherings, which frequently provide food for the entire neighborhood.

On Grande Comore, this tradition is known as a magnificent marriage and only the wealthiest can afford it. After hosting a grand wedding, a man is regarded as a grand notable—someone of high social status.

During the country’s mid-1970s presidential term, Ali Soilih made an unsuccessful attempt to outlaw this practice on the grounds that it added needless financial strain to an already struggling community and prevented the underprivileged from engaging in politics.

The mosque serves as the cultural and religious center of Comorians, but the public square—often just a small plaza hidden behind apartment buildings at the end of a circle of alleyways—serves as the hub of daily life.

In the public squares on Grande Comore, males congregate to one side, ranked by clan, age, and social standing, with the most honoured receiving the best seats.

While women sit to the opposite side, occasionally divided by a wooden or cloth divider, also seated according to status. They gather there to discuss current events and viewpoints, sip tea, and play games like mraha wa ntso and chess.

East African stews made with roots and Indian Ocean (especially South Asian and Indonesian) rice-based curry dishes combine to make Comorian cuisine.

Fresh fish and mutton, as well as locally grown spices like vanilla, coriander, cardamom, and nutmeg, are common ingredients in regional cuisine. The Comorian table has been influenced by French designs as well.

Also read: Brief History About Djibouti

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