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Comoros, independent state comprising a group of islands in the Indian Ocean. Located at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel, the islands lie about 290 km (about 180 mi) from Mozambique and about 320 km (about 200 mi) from Madagascar. Comoros has been a self-governing state since 1975 when three of the four islands of the Comoros archipelago broke away from French rule. The three islands are Njazidja (also called Grande Comore), Nzwani (Anjouan) and Mwali (Moheli). The capital city, Moroni, is located on Njazidja. Comoros claims sovereignty over the fourth island, Mayotte (also known as Mahore), but Mayotte is still a dependency of France with the status of a territorial collectivity. Islam is the state religion of Comoros.

Government

According to a 2001 constitution, the three islands of Comoros constitute a union. Each island elects its own legislature and president, which are responsible for establishing and enforcing its own fundamental laws in accordance with the national constitution. On the national level, legislative power is vested in the Assembly of the Union, whose 30 members serve five-year terms. Half of the members are selected by the individual islands’ legislatures (each island selects five members), and the other half are popularly elected. The head of state is a president, who is popularly elected to a four-year term. The presidency rotates among the three islands. Two vice presidents, representing the other two islands, assist the president. Judicial power resides with the Supreme Court, which rules on fiscal and administrative issues, and the High Council, which considers constitutional matters.

Sources

Comoros

Greenway, Paul, and Deanna Swaney. Lonely Planet Madagascar & Comoros. 3rd ed. Lonely Planet, 1997. Spectacularly illustrated travel guide to the Comoros Islands.

Ottenheimer, Martin, and Harriett Ottenheimer. Historical Dictionary of the Comoro Islands. Scarecrow, 1994. Alphabetical arrangement of general information about Comoros: geography, history, politics, and culture.

Contributors

Newitt, Malyn D. D., B.A., Ph.D. Professor of History in the Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, King's College, London. Author of The Comoro Islands: Struggle Against Dependency in the Indian Ocean and other books.

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