The Comoros officially the Union of the Comoros is an island nation in the Indian Ocean, located off the eastern coast of Africa, on the northern end of the Mozambique Channel, between northern Madagascar and northeastern Mozambique. The nearest countries to the Comoros are Mozambique, Tanzania, Madagascar, and the Seychelles.
It is the southernmost member state of the Arab League. At 1,862 km2 (719 sq mi), (excluding Mayotte) the Comoros is the third-smallest African nation by area. And with a population estimated at 798,000, it is the sixth-smallest African nation by population—although it has one of the highest population densities in Africa. Its name derives from the Arabic word qamar ("moon").
The country officially consists of the four islands in the volcanic Comoros archipelago: Ngazidja (French: Grande Comore), Mwali (French: Mohéli), Nzwani (French: Anjouan), and Mahoré (French: Mayotte), as well as many smaller islands. However, the government of the Union of the Comoros (or its predecessors, since independence) has never administered the island of Mayotte, which France still administers as an overseas collectivity. Mayotte was the only island in the archipelago that voted against independence from France, and France has vetoed United Nations Security Council resolutions that would affirm Comorian sovereignty over the island. In addition, a 29 March 2009 referendum on Mayotte's becoming an overseas department of France in 2012 was passed overwhelmingly by the people of Mayotte.
The archipelago is notable for its diverse culture and history, as a nation formed at the crossroads of many civilizations. Though in the contested island of Mayotte the sole official language is French, the "Union of the Comoros" has three official languages: Comorian (Shikomor), Arabic and French.
The "Union of the Comoros" is the only state to be a member of each of the African Union, Francophonie, Organisation of the Islamic Conference, Arab League, and Indian Ocean Commission. However, it has had a troubled history since independence in 1975, marked by numerous coups d'état. About half the population live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.