The Comoros (i/ˈkɒməroʊz/; Arabic: جزر القمر, Juzur al-Qumur / Qamar), officially the Union of the Comoros (Comorian: Udzima wa Komori, French: Union des Comores, Arabic: الاتحاد القمريal-Ittiḥād al-Qumurī / Qamarī), is a sovereign archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean located at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel off the eastern coast of Africa between northeastern Mozambique and northwestern Madagascar. Other countries near the Comoros areTanzania to the northwest and the Seychelles to the northeast. Its capital is Moroni, on Grande Comore.
At 1,660 km2 (640 sq mi), excluding the contested island of Mayotte, the Comoros is the third-smallest African nation by area. The population, excluding Mayotte, is estimated at 798,000. As a nation formed at a crossroads of many civilizations, the archipelago is noted for its diverse culture and history. The Union of the Comoros has three official languages – Comorian, Arabic and French – though French is the sole official language on Mayotte.
Officially, in addition to many smaller islands, the country consists of the four major islands in thevolcanic Comoros archipelago: northwesternmost Grande Comore (Ngazidja); Mohéli (Mwali);Anjouan (Nzwani); and southeasternmost Mayotte (Maore). Mayotte, however, has never been administered by an independent Comoros government and continues to be administered byFrance (currently as an overseas department) as it was the only island in the archipelago that voted against independence in 1974. France has since vetoed United Nations Security Councilresolutions that would affirm Comorian sovereignty over the island. In addition, areferendum on the question of Mayotte becoming an overseas department and a region of Francein 2011 was held on 29 March 2009 and passed overwhelmingly.
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. Since independence in 1975, the country has experienced numerous coups d'étatand as of 2008 about half the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.