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Translating Arabic Speaking Countries: Comoro Islands

The Comoro Islands consist of four main islands, three of which make up the Union of the Comoros. The fourth island, Mayotte, is a department and region of France. The islands are situated below the equator just off the southeast coast of Africa, close to Madagascar, and are an archipelago of volcanic islands. This blog will focus on the islands that are part of the Union of Comoros.

gpi-comoros islands-map

The website, If It Were My Home, provides an interesting perspective comparing basic living standards of a person in the Comoro Islands to a person living in the United States (other similar country comparison are also provided on the site).

According to the site:

If Comoros were your home instead of The United States you would:

(click each item for more detailed information)

gpi-comoros islands-land

Comoro Islands Demographics
  • The Islands have a population of 788,000 people.
  • Gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is about $810.
  • Unemployment is low for the region at 6.5%.
  • The government only has 33 members, of which, only three are women which is low for the region.
  • The country in total is about 718 square miles which would be a little bigger than the city of London.
Languages of the Comoro Islands
  • There are three official languages in the Union of Comoros: Shikomoro/Comorian, Arabic and French.
  • Shikomoro is related to Swahili and spoken by about 97% of the population.
  • Government and education are conducted in French, due to past colonization.
  • Arabic became one of the main languages on the islands with the growth of Islam locally.

GPI-Comoros islands-flag

Comoro Islands Culture
  • The Comoro Island flag represents Islam with a green triangle, the four white stars represent the four islands, not just those within the union.
  • While cement is becoming more commonplace for home building, most homes today are made of a mixture of basalt, a mud/straw mixture called cob, braided coconut fronds and limestone from coral.
  • Rice, root vegetables, fish and coconut milk are the main staples for the local diet.
Comoro Islands Consumers
  • Ecommerce is not much of a factor on the islands as only about 7% of the population have used the internet in the past 12 months
  • While most of the world relies on fossil fuels, the Comoro Islands do not use any, they get their energy from combustible renewable energy resources.
  • 70% of the island population is involved in some form of farming and/or fishing. This is where they get their own food and how they earn their living.
Future of Comoro Islands
  • The Islands are known as the ‘Perfume Islands’. This is for the export business they have with vanilla, cloves, copra, and ylang ylang. Export of these items is most of their export business which amounts to 4% of the country’s gross national product (GNP).
  • Much of the money for the islands comes to them in the form of aid from other countries, the World Bank and from island nationals living abroad who send money back to family members.
  • Recently the Comoro Islands began selling citizenship. The target market being people living in the Gulf States that cannot get citizenship in their country of residence and employment. This is one strategy to raise more money for the country, which does not have much else to count on otherwise.

The Comoro Islands seem to be a land that time has forgotten. It has not adopted modern living styles which are found in neighboring countries and islands. Farming is the primary job of most residents. While they have a tropical location and beautiful beaches, tourism has not become an industry for them. The internet is barely available on the islands. This will likely change in the future, but change does not appear to be on their current horizon.