What You Need To Know
The Comoros Islands are an archipelago of four islands and several islets located in the western Indian Ocean about ten to twelve degrees south of the Equator and less than 200 miles off the East African coast. They lie approximately halfway between the island of Madagascar and northern Mozambique at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel and have an amazing nature rich with wildlife wonders.
Islands: Grande Comore, Anjouan, Mohéli, Grande-Terre, Pamanzi.
The Comoros is the only state to be a member of the African Union, Francophonie, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Arab League (of which it is the southernmost state, being the only member of the Arab League which is entirely within the Southern Hemisphere) and the Indian Ocean Commission.
As of 2008 about half the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day
Area: 2,034 km²
Capital : Moroni
Population: 798 000 (2011)
- The KMF is the local currency in Comoros is called Comorian Franc.
- the coins and notes you will see in Comoros are in francs. There are eight coins that are legal tender but only four of them are regularly used now. These are the 25, 50, 100 and 250 franc coins. The lower-denominated coins (the 1, 2, 5 and 10 franc coins) are not often used since the old spectre of inflation has rendered them practically useless and worthless.As for banknotes you will find five of these you can use while you are there. They are denominated as follows – the 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 franc notes.
- Cash is the main means of paying for goods and services in Comoros. The Banque International du Comore (BIC – affiliated to BNP) is the only established bank on Grande Comore, and banking facilities are minimal to non-existent on the other islands. The two cash machines found at the BIC and the Itsandra Hotel work occasionally.
- You can withdraw cash (local currency only) against a credit card from a small Bureau de Change office attached to the main BIC branch (on left hand side of main entrance).Only one or two hotels accept credit cards for payment of bills (this can sometimes be problematic due to technical / connection problems with the equipment), but will not provide local currency against credit cards. Some hotels and restaurants will accept some foreign currencies (Euros and US Dollars preferred). Change may be given in local currency.
The different languages are: Comorian Arabic French
Health and security
- The people in Comoros are prone to diseases like cholera, dengue, leprosy, malaria and tuberculosis. As per the Comoros health report of 2007, the birth rate of Comoros is 36.35 births per 1,000 people. On the other hand the death rate is 7.95 deaths per 1,000 people. The infant mortality rate is 70.66 deaths per 1,000 live births (2007 data report).People of Comoros are heavily prone to malaria. Also cholera is another disease prevalent in Comoros. Immigrants suffer from diarrhea. Even less than half of the population in Comoros can have safe drinking water. As a result, the parasitic infestation has got dominance in the area. Vaccinations against typhoid and Hepatitis A are recommended. As per a report of 2001, the percentage of people (adults) who are infected with HIV/AIDS is 0.12%. A lot is needed to be done in order to improve the condition of health in Comoros. .
- As a result of its colonial history and the ongoing political debate regarding the separate status of Mayotte, there are regular demonstrations throughout Comoros and a fairly high level of anti-French sentiment. However, the situation has been relatively calm since elections in 2010.You should remain vigilant and maintain a low profile while moving around, avoid any crowds or political gatherings as these can quickly turn violent. Monitor local media to keep abreast of local developments during your stay.
The three main islands are generally crime-free, but you should take sensible precautions against pick pocketing and mugging. Do not walk around town centres unaccompanied at night. Safeguard your valuables and cash and keep copies of important documents, including passports, in a separate place to the documents themselves. Deposit them in hotel safes, where practicable.
Violent crime is uncommon; Moheli, for example, has not reported a homicide in decades. The most commonly reported crime is home break-ins. Most reported crimes are crimes of opportunity due to poverty. Physical harassment and violent crime are very rare. In fact male travellers face more nuisances from pushy prostitutes who frequent almost every nightclub than anything else.
- Individual reactions may vary upon being photographed, but visitors must be advised that taking unauthorised photographs of the locals will, at best, offend an individual and at worst, cause irrational and potentially violent reactions.
- Although the Comoros are a rather liberal Muslim country, it is disrespectful for women to expose their shoulders, much of their chest, knees, and especially stomach and lower back. Locals will not expect foreign, non-Muslim women to cover their heads. Public affection between men and women is not acceptable. Non-Muslim religious proselytizing is illegal, as is giving Bibles to locals.
- One of the attractions in Comoros is Mount Karthala, which is an active volcano.Mount Karthala is the highest point in Comoros and lies in the island of Grand Comore. This active volcano erupted about twenty times since nineteenth century. Frequent eruptions have shaped Mount Karthala into caldera. The crater lake, which was formed after the volcanic eruption in the year 1991, is no longer to be found here. The mountain consists of evergreen forests, which is the habitat of various rare species of flora and fauna in Comoros.
The crater of the mountain is one of largest in the world. The crater measures approximately a mile in diameter. The volcano is very much active. The most recent volcanic eruption occurred in 2003. Mount Karthala of Ngazidja Island in Comoros has the distinction of being the highest point in the Indian Ocean archipelago. The peak of the mountain is calculated to be 2361 meters above sea level.
- The Nouvelle Mosquee de Vendredi is a mosque in the Indian Ocean country of Union of the Comoros. The Vendredi Mosque is noted for its unique Comoran architectural style. The Nouvelle Mosquee de Vendredi in Comoros is situated in the country capital Moroni. The Vendredi mosque is used to hold daily prayers. Visitors to the mosque may enter the mosque in order to observe the internal architecture of the structure.The steps that lead to the mosque entrance are a favorite spot for Comorans for making constructive discussions. The Vendredi Mosque is the end result of long Islamic history in the Indian Ocean island nation. The trend started with the first Arab presence in the island in the 11th century. The presence has been bolstered by successive waves of Arab influence in Comoros.
The Comoros enjoys a tropical climate dominated by two major seasons; a cool dry season between May and October and a warm, humid season between November and April. The rainy season, November to April, sees the highest temperatures, and the most tropical cyclones; the wettest month of the year is January when between 11 and 14 inches (275mm to 375mm) of rain falls. Rainfall and temperature vary from island to island, but generally temperatures average from 78°F to 86°F (26°C to 29°C) in the wet season and about 66°F (19°C) from May to October. The weather in Comoros is fairly pleasant all year, even when it is wet, but for a beach holiday the best time of year to visit Comoros is in the cool, dry season. The best months for missing the heat, humidity and rain are August, September and October.