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Mayotte, Land and Resources

The main island has an area of 374 km (144 sq mi) and is volcanic in origin. It has a mountainous terrain with a rocky coastline. The highest mountain, Mount Benara, has an elevation of 660 m (2,166 ft), but the most striking feature of the island is the bare sugarloaf mountain of Outchongui in the south. Mayotte is almost entirely surrounded by a coral reef, which is rich in marine life and provides extensive protected anchorages within its lagoon. The island climate is dominated by the monsoons from the Indian Ocean, which bring cyclones and torrential rain between November and April. Temperatures vary from about 18 C (65 F) in the dry season to about 30 C (85 F) during the rainy season. The island's soils are rich in minerals and at one time supported tropical rain forest. Almost all of this forest has been cleared, however, mostly by sugar planters in the 19th century, and it has been succeeded by palm trees, food crops, and scrub. Erosion and depleted soil fertility have been environmental problems, but the island has abundant supplies of freshwater.

 
 

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