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Comoros

Geography & Topography

Capital: Moroni; 53,000

Area: 1,862 square kilometers (719 square miles)

Language: Arabic, French, Shikomoro

Religion: Sunni Muslim, Roman Catholic

Currency: Comoran franc

History

The Comorian live on a group of islands in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mozambique, Africa. The Comoros chain consists of four main islands plus several smaller ones. Comorian communities can be found on all of the islands in the chain, as well as in Madagascar. The different Comorian groups, take their name from the particular island on which they live.

The islanders reflect a diversity of origins. Most Comorians speak island-specific varieties of Comorian (Shikomoro), a Bantu language related to Swahili and written in Arabic script. Comorian, Arabic, and French are the official languages; French is the language of administration.

Performing Arts

Music

The Comoros are at a unique cultural and musical crossroads. Involved in the western Indian Ocean trade for over a thousand years, the islands have absorbed cultural and musical influences from East Africa, the Middle East, Madagascar, and southern India. As a result there is a remarkably wide range of musical styles in the Comoros: solo and choral, through composed and stanzaic, improvised and rehearsed, accompanied and acapella.Contemporary Artists in the Islands and in Europe have been utilizing traditional sounds and themes and putting them in a modern idiom to produce some very interesting music.

The most recognisable instruments in traditional Comorian music are:

Accordion

Accordion: A box-shaped musical instrument of the bellows-driven free-reed aerophone family. he instrument is played by compressing or expanding the bellows whilst pressing buttons or keys, causing valves, called pallets, to open, which allow air to flow across strips of brass or steel, called reeds, that vibrate to produce sound inside the body.

Gong

Gong: A circular metal platelike percussion instrument, usually having a turned-down rim. In most forms it is struck in the centre with a felt- or leather-covered beater, producing a sound of either definite or indefinite pitch. Its vibrations issue from the centre, in contrast to bells, which vibrate principally at the rim. Gongs may have shallow or deep rims (kettle gongs) and may be bossed (knobbed in the centre) or unbossed.

 

Some interesting facts:

  • Comoros is the second-largest producer of vanilla in the world, right after its “neighbor” Madagascar. The country also is the largest producer of ylang-ylang, which is used to make fragrance oils.
  • Anjouan, Grande Comore, and Moheli are the three main islands that make up the country of Comoros. The Comoros archipelago contains all three of these islands, plus another island, Mayotte, which is claimed by Comoros, but administered by France.
  • The country’s motto is “Unité – Solidarité – Développement” (French). It means ‘Unity – Solidarity – Development’.

 

More information on the Comorian community: