Like Aladdin's magical lantern, overlooking the Indian Ocean, the moonlight radiates on the southern side of the African continent, the Comoros or Union of Comoros, celebrated its 43rd anniversary of independence from the French colonialism on Friday, July 6.
Comoros is a state composed of a number of islands, located in the Indian Ocean, close to the east coast of Africa on the northern end of the Mozambique Channel between northern Madagascar and northeastern Mozambique. The nearest countries to Comoros are Mozambique, Tanzania, Madagascar, and Seychelles.
Comoros is 1.862 square kilometers (863 square miles), making it the third smallest African country in terms of area size. It has an estimated population of 798.000 inhabitants, making it the smallest African nation in terms of population; albeit one of the highest African countries in terms of population density, and it is the southernmost state in the Arab League. The name Comoros is derived from the original Arabic word that means Moon.
The state consists of four major islands in the volcanic archipelago of Comoros, which are: Ngazidja, Mwali (Moheli) Island, Nzwani (Anjouan) Island, and Mayotte (Maore) Island; as well as many other smaller islands.
The archipelago is characterized by the cultural and historical diversity, as the nation was built on the crossroads of many civilizations. Comoros has three official languages: Comorian (Shikomori), Arabic, and French.
The Union of Comoros is the only state that is a member of the African Union, the International Organization of la Francophonie, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Arab League, the Indian Ocean Commission and many other international organizations.
The first inhabitants of Comoros were believed to have been settlers from Polynesia, Malaysia, Malays, Indonesia and the Estorians, who found their way to the islands by sailing boats. They settled in the sixth century AD, which is the date of the first known archeological site in Anjouan. The Swahili were the first to arrive at the islands as a part of the great Bantu expansion that took place in Africa during the first millennium.
The growth of Comoros is divided into time periods starting with Swahili influence and settlement at the Dembeni period (9th � 10th century), during that time each island remained as one central village.
From the eleventh to the fifteenth centuries, trade with Madagascar and the Middle East flourished, resulting in city expansions, and appearance of new small villages. Comoros citizens and historians stated that the first Arabs who settled there go way back than their known arrival in Archipelago.
Historians also traced origins of Comorian ancestor to the Arab who sailed from Yemen and the ancient kingdom of Saba in Aden. Merchants from the Middle East were also the first to introduce Islam to the islands. Once Islam spread and gained popularity, constructions of large mosques began.
Like other coastal areas in the region, Comoros was one of the most crucial trading routes for Muslims at the time. Despite the fact that Comoros is off the eastern coast, it is located along the main sea route between Kilwa and Mozambique, thus becoming an outlet for Zimbabwean gold.
Arab's leverage increased with the rise of Zanzibar under Arab-Omani rule (Oman). Comorian culture was also impacted by Arab culture, which was reflected in several areas, especially in the architecture and religious field.
When Europeans showed interest in Comoros, the dominating Arab culture on the islands made many people recall it by the Arab heritage rather than the Swahili and African culture.
French colonial rule began in Comoros for the first time in 1841.
The first French colonists landed on the island of Mayotte, and the Malagasy king, who ruled the island of Mayotte Andrian Tsouli, signed an agreement in April 1841, under which the island was surrendered to the French forces.
In 1886, Moheli Island was placed under French protection by Queen Salimba Muchimba. In the same year, AL Sultan SaA�d Ali agreed to French protection after strengthening his authority on the Grande Comore, although he retained his rules until 1909.
In 1909, Al-Sultan SaA�d Mohammed Sultan Anjouan ceded his throne to the French. Comoros became French, and it was called: Les Comores, the French colony was officially established in 1912, and the islands were placed under the rule of the French colonial ruler in Madagascar in 1941.
Comoros served as a stop in the way of traders to the Far East and India until the opening of the Suez Canal, which greatly reduced the transit of traders through the Mozambique Channel.
French settlers, French-owned companies, and rich Arabs built an economy dependent on agriculture. To this day, the country uses third of its land to grow crops for export.
An agreement was reached with France in 1973 regarding the independence of Comoros in 1978.
However, on July 6, 1975, the Comorian Parliament issued a unilateral decision proclaiming its independence.
Source: International Islamic News Agency