Capital | Moroni
Population | 752,438 (July 2009 est.)
Area | 2170 sq km
Official language | Arabic, French
Holidays | Independence Day, 6 July (1975)
Currency | Comoran francs (KMF)
Time Zone | UTC+3
Best time to visit | May to October (dry season) – or in the 15th and 16th centuries when Shirazi Arab royal clans arrived building mosques and royal houses.
Connecting with the Culture | Discovering the coral reefs and white sandy beaches at Chiroroni. Breating the scents of the ylang-ylang distellery at Bamboa. Walking through the crumbling, decaying palaces at Hari ya Moudji. Wandering the maze-like lanes of the Medina of Morni. Finding the perfect hand-crafted souvenier at Mitsoudje. Green sea turtle, watching at Chissioua Ouenetou. Swinning in the pristoine waters ofn Anjouan.
Read | The Comoros Islands: Struggle Against Dependency in the Indian Ocean , by Malyn Newitt, which outlines the turbulent recent history of the region.
Listen | to a performance by the Maalesh Group, a group of musicians led by the Comoran born Maalesh who sings songs of injustice and hope in Comoran, Swahili and Arabic.
Eat | langouste a la vanille (lobster cooked in vanilla sauce) or rice and meat infused with cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg; or fish with coconut.
In a word | Habari or salama (`Hello’ in Comoran)
Characteristics | Magnificent blue-green clear ocean waters; fields of ylang-ylang, jasmine, cassis and orange flower; blazing sunsets; long white beaches; beautiful rainforests; political turmoil; excellent seafood; mosques; scuba diving; big-game fishing. The `grande marriage’, a two-to-nine day public wedding festivity (toirab) which caters to the entire village, and which the man must pay for. Swahili-inspired architecture with arcades; balustrades and carved wooden latticework; Comoran women with faces applied with a yellowish paste of sandalwaood and coral (m’sidzanou)
Surprises | Studding the Indian Ocean between the African mainland and Madagascar, the island of Comoros offers an amazing diversity of people and cultures. Despite a succession of political coups and civilian riots, the island boasts cobblestone medinas, ports bustling with dhows, tropicla moonrises over white-sand beaches and blazing ocean sunsets that set the sky on fire. All wrapped in the fragant aroma of ylang-ylang oil, African warmth, French chic and Arabic Aesthetics and a colorful history of sultans, eloping princesses and plantation owners.