Comoros Islands – Africa
The Comoros Islands are part of an archipelago of four major islands (Ngazidja, Mwali, Nzwani, and Mahore), and several islets located in the western Indian Ocean, several hundred miles off the East African coast. The Comoros Islands lie between the coast of Mozambique and the country of Madagascar. This archipelago was formed from volcanic active in the sea floor during the Tertiary and Quaternary Eras. The total area of the archipelago is less than 800 square miles.
The Comoros Islands were a ruled by France, as a colony, from the late 1800s until 1975, when three of the major islands: Ngazidja, Mwali, and Nzwani, declared their independence and formed the Union Of Comoros. Ngazidja, also known as Grande Comore, is the largest and newest of the four major islands in this archipelago. The island of Ngazidja has an active volcano, Karthala, that is nearly 8,000 feet in height. Ngazidja is also the most westerly of the major islands. The smallest of the four major islands is Mwali, also known as Mohéli, which is nearly 30 miles southeast of Ngazidja. About 25 miles to the east of Mwali is Nzwani, also known as Ndzuwani or Anjouan. The island of Nzwani is home to the rare Anjouan scops owl (Otus capnodes). The Anjouan scops owl is found nowhere else in the world and with a population estimated to be less than 400, this species is considered critically endangered.
The Union of the Comoros is the third-smallest African nation, but once played a major role in the world economy as a way station for merchants sailing to the East. The capital city, Moroni is on Ngazidja.
In the deep water around these islands lives the famous African Coelacanth. This prehistoric fish, once thought by western scientists to have been extinct, has lived here for millions of years. There are also whales, sharks, manta rays, sailfish, and sunfish, in these waters.
Comoros, comprising the entire archipelago, became the 143rd member of the United Nations and was recognized as an independent country in 1975. However, the fourth major island of the archipelago, Mayotte, also known as Maore, became an overseas department of France in 2011, as a result of a referendum held in 2009. Currently, the island is administered by France. Mayotte, which lies nearly 50 miles to the southeast of Nzwani, is the oldest of the major islands and surrounded by a barrier reef.