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The Comores are an archipelago consisting of the islands of Ngazidja (formerly Grande-Comore), Nzwani (formerly Anjouan), Mwali (formerly Moheli), and Mayotte in the Indian Ocean. The first settlers were probably Melanesian and Polynesian peoples, who came to the Comoros by the 6th century AD; later immigrants arrived from East Africa, Arab lands, Indonesia, Persia, and Madagascar. The Portuguese discovered the islands about 1503, and Frenchmen first landed in 1517. The Englishman James Lancaster visited the islands toward the end of the 16th century. For many years however, Arab influence predominated over that of Europeans. Malagasy invasions also took place in the 16th century. In 1843, a Malagasy who ruled over Mayotte ceded the island to France, and in 1865, the Malagasy ruler of Mohéli signed a friendship treaty with France. In 1886 Anjouan, Grande Comore, and Mohéli became a French protectorate, and in 1908 the islands were joined administratively with French-ruled Madagascar. In World War II, the islands were occupied by a British force and turned over to the Free French. The Comoros were granted administrative autonomy within the Republic of France on 9 May 1946, acquiring overseas territorial status, and on 22 December 1961 achieved internal autonomy under special statute. This status was amended on 3 January 1968 to give the territory greater internal autonomy. Independence was granted on 1 October 1978.

The island of Anjouan declared its independence from the Federation on Aug. 3, 1997, after months of protests and clashes with security forces. The secessionists wanted a return to French rule, contending that independence from France has brought economic disaster and political chaos. Mohéli, the smallest island, also seceded. But France refused to support the secession of either island.

After a military coup in 1999 a new constitution was approved in March 2002, and the three islands were reunited. Each island elected its own president, and in May a federal president was elected from Grande Comoro. In Feb. 2003, a coup was thwarted.

A power-sharing agreement signed in Dec. 2003 gave the individual islands semiautonomous status and led to elections for a national assembly in 2004. In 2006, a new federal president was elected.


The National Symbol


A national flag was adopted on 13 June 1963 for the Territoire d’Outremer des Comores. Later different flags were adopted. The sixth and for the moment the last flag was adopted on 9 January 2002. On the flags are a crescent and four five-pointed stars.


The national symbol of the Comores is known from the declaration of independence on 1 October 1978. It consists of a sun, charged with a crescent on which are four five-pointed stars for the four islands of the archipelago. Around the sun is the name of the country in french and comorian and the whole is surrounded by a garland of olive, charged on the junction with a listel with the motto  UNITE - JUSTICE - PROGRES.


The four stars include a star for Mayotte even when this Island did never join the federation and is still a french overseas department.


No new national symbol was adopted after the political changes of 2003.


See illustration at the head of this article.[1]





The short living independent state of Anjouan adopted a flag on the day of the declaration of independence. It showed a white Hand of Fatima, issuant from a white crescent. This was the symbol of the former Anjouan Sultanate which existed from about 1500 until 1912.

The symbol is on the obverse of the Ordre Royal de l’Étoile d’Anjouan, founded in 1874 by Sultan Said Abdallah. By decrees of 10 May and 12 September 1896 the order was recognized  by the French Government and became a french colonial order. After Independence the order was apparently continued by the new government.



Locket from the star of the Ordre Royal d’Anjouan, showing the Hand-and-Crescent emblem




© Hubert de Vries 2008-11-17

[1] ) Retrieved from Wikipedia

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