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  • Date :
  • 7/26/2003



Mayotte was ceded to France along with the other islands of the Comoros group in 1843. It was the only island in the archipelago that voted in 1974 to retain its link with France and forego independence


Location: Southern Africa, island in the Mozambique Channel, about one-half of the way from northern Madagascar to northern Mozambique

Geographic coordinates: 12 50 S, 45 10 E

Coastline: 185.2 km

Area: total: 374 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 374 sq km

Climate: tropical; marine; hot, humid, rainy season during northeastern monsoon (November to May); dry season is cooler (May to November)


Population: 170,879 (July 2002 est.)

Population growth rate: 4.41% (2002 est.)

Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
 total population: 1.1 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
noun: Mahorais (singular and plural)
adjective: Mahoran

Languages: Mahorian (a Swahili dialect), French (official language) spoken by 35% of the population


Economic activity is based primarily on the agricultural sector, including fishing and livestock rising. Mayotte is not self-sufficient and must import a large portion of its food requirements, mainly from France. The economy and future development of the island are heavily dependent on French financial assistance, an important supplement to GDP. Mayotte's remote location is an obstacle to the development of tourism.

Industries: newly created lobster and shrimp industry, construction


Telephones main lines in use: 12,000 (1998)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 0 (2000)


Television broadcast stations: 3 (2001)

Televisions: 3,500 (1994)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):


Railways: 0 km (2002)
note: linked to Senegal's rail system through Kayes (2001)

Highways: total: 93 km
1 (2001)


Country name:

Conventional long form: Territorial Collectivity of Mayotte
conventional short form: Mayotte

Government type: NA

Capital: Mamoutzou

Administrative divisions: none

Independence: none

Constitution: 28 September 1958 (French Constitution)

Legal system:French law

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Jacques CHIRAC of France (since 17 May 1995), represented by Prefect Jean-Jacques BROT (since 3 July 2002)
elections: French president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; prefect appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of the Interior; president of the General Council elected by the members of the General Council for a six-year term
head of government: President of the General Council Younoussa BAMANA (since NA 1977)
cabinet: NA

Political parties and leadersDemocratic Front or FD [Youssouf MOUSSA]; Mahoran Popular Movement or MPM [Younoussa BAMANA]; Federation of Mahorans or RPR [Moustoifa MOHAMED]; Movement for Department Status Mayotte or MDM [Younoussa BEN ALI]; Socialist Party or PS (local branch of French Parti Socialiste) [Ibrahim ABUBACAR]; Union for French Democracy or UDF [Henri JEAN-BAPTISTE]; note - may no longer be in existence


Muslim 97%, Christian (mostly Roman Catholic)


It is thought that the earliest inhabitants of the islands were journeymen from Indonesia-Polynesia, but traces of this original Asian culture have blended seamlessly into successive waves of African, Arab and Shirazi immigrants. The most notable of these early immigrants were the Shirazi Arab royal clans, who appeared in Comoros in the 15th and 16th centuries and stayed to build mosques, set up royal house and introduce architecture and carpentry.
From the 15th century to the middle of the 19th, the power brokers happily played musical sultanates between themselves until the French turned their attention to the islands in the middle of the 19th century. The French finally acquired the islands through a cunning mixture of strategies, including the divide and conquer ploy, chequebook politics and a serendipitous affair between a sultana and a French trader that was turned to good use.
Solih began with a set of solid socialist ideals that were designed to take the islands kicking and screaming into the 20th century, and bury a moribund society that anointed the wealthy and privileged as its apparatchiks. Property was nationalized, women's veils came off and costly grand marriages and traditional funeral ceremonies were abolished.
After President Abdoukarim died in November 1998, the political vacuum began attracting a slew of slick characters, including interim President Majidine Ben Said Massonde and several secessionists trying to take advantage of the fuss to further their own political agendas. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) stepped in and attempted to broker a peace accord, but Anjouan's leadership would have no part of it. The military, which had been doing most of the dying during this political polka, finally installed Colonel Azaly Assoumani in a bloodless coup, dissolved the constitution and reopened talks with the OAU in July 1999.
The dramas haven't taken pause in the last couple of years: in August 2001, a military government took power on the island, planning to rejoin it with Comoros; plans were almost foiled by yet another coup attempt three months later. In December 2001 voters indicated that the trio of islands should remain one country, but each should be allowed more autonomy.

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