In the first centuries after the beginning of the Christian era, the Comoros began to be populated by Indonesian sailors of Malay-Polynesian origin. Around AD 1000 Persian seafarers landed on the islands, and over time immigrants from Arabia and Africa followed. From the 16th century, commercial branches were founded on the islands, including by Portuguese, Dutch and French, while Islamic immigrants from East Africa and South Arabia founded small feudal sultanates along the coast. The Europeans soon gave up their settlements in the Comoros and the Arab-Islamic influence was able to assert itself.
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The islands were taken over by the individual sultans, who let black slaves from the African continent work for them on the plantations. In the 19th century, raids by pirates from Madagascar on the Comoros increased, after which the colonial power of France was requested by the sultans for military support. In 1841, the southernmost of the four large Comoros, called the Mayotte, became a French protectorate. From here, there was a lively trade in vanilla, spices, bananas, sisal and ylang-ylang (a plant that provides the raw material for the production of perfume). From 1886, the entire archipelago (alongside Mayotte, Grande-Comore, Anjouan and Moh¨¦li) was declared a French protectorate.
After the last sultan abdicated in the Comoros in 1909, the islands were merged into the “Comores” colony in 1912. From 1912 until after the end of the Second World War, the islands were administered from Madagascar, also French. In 1946, the Comoros was given the status of a French overseas territory, which included limited internal autonomy. The city of Dzaoudzi on the island of Mayotte was named as the capital.
In 1956, France promised full autonomy, which was finally granted in 1968. In a referendum in 1958, the majority of the population voted to maintain the status of a French overseas territory. On Mayotte, however, the population voted for closer ties to France. In 1961, Prince Said Mohamed Cheikh, who came from a former sultan’s family, became head of government. After his death in 1970, Said Ibrahim took over the leadership of the government, and from 1974 Ahmed Abdallah Abderemane, leader of the “Union D¨¦mocratique des Comores” (UDC).
The Comoros only finally became independent in 1975, when the residents of the three islands of Grande Comore, Moh¨¦li and Anjouan spoke in favor of independence with 95% of the votes. The decisive pioneer for sovereignty was the independence movement “Mouvement de Liberation National des Comores” (MOLINACO), which was founded in 1963 in exile. Prime Minister Abderemane has also called for the country’s independence since taking office. In 1976, over 60% of the population on the island of Mayotte spoke out in favor of remaining under French leadership.
In 1978 the Comoros Islands Grande Comore (Njazidja), according to AbbreviationFinder, Anjouan (Nzwani) and Moh¨¦li (Mwali) received a new constitution as the “Islamic Federal Republic of the Comoros”. Islam became the state religion. Ahmed Abdallah Abderemane became President (until 1989), Salim Ben Ali head of government. Four years later, the Union Comorienne pour le Progr¨¨s (UCP) was founded, which became the dominant political force and combined socialist and Islamic elements in its program.
In 1989 President Abderemane fell victim to a coup. His successor was Said Mohamed Djohar (UCP, until 1995). The first half of the 1990s were characterized by failed coup attempts, the dissolution of the Federal Assembly and government reforms. Announced elections were repeatedly postponed, leading to serious unrest among the population. In 1995 President Djohar was deposed by a coup by French mercenaries. The previous head of government, Caambi El-Yachroutou, was appointed interim president and formed a new government. After the presidential election in March 1996, Mohamed Taki Abdulkarim became the new President of the Comoros. A constitutional amendment from the same year increased the president’s powers.
In August 1997, the islands of Nzwani (Anjouan) and Mwali declared their independence from the Islamic Federal Republic of the Comoros from resentment at the accused electoral fraud and the increasing turn of the state to Islam. The Comorian government in Moroni did not recognize the unilaterally declared independence and sent troops to the two islands. The Organization for African Unity (OAU) subsequently sought mediation between the separatists and the government. In April 1999, an agreement was reached that gave Nzwani and Mwali extensive self-determination. Shortly before ratification of the agreement, the army launched another coup d’¨¦tat with the aim of maintaining “national unity”. General Azali Assoumani declared himself the new President of the Comoros, dissolved the parliament and temporarily suspended the constitution.
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In February 2001, an agreement was signed between General Assoumani and separatist leader Said Abeid of the island of Nzwani, which created a new constitution based on greater independence for the three Comoros islands in a federalist new state called “Union des Comores / Union of the Comoros” provided. Islamist Ahmed Abdallah Sambi won the presidential election for this new state.
The renegade Colonel Mohamed Barca occupied the island of Nzwami (Anjouan) from May 2007; he sought independence. In March 2008, the African Union (AU) sent 1,500 soldiers to the island and brought them back under control.
In a referendum in May 2009, central power over the islands was strengthened and the pace of voting harmonized. With the constitutional amendment, the three island presidents were downgraded to governors and the island ministers to government councilors. In addition, according to the new constitution, the president has the option of dissolving the Union parliament.