The Comoros (Arabic: جزر القمر, Ǧuzur al-Qumur / Qamar), officially the Union of the Comoros (Comorian: Udzima wa Komori, French: Union des Comores, Arabic: الاتحاد القمري al-Ittiḥād al-Qumurī / Qamarī) is a sovereign archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean, located at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel off the eastern coast of Africa, between northeastern Mozambique and northwestern Madagascar. Other countries near the Comoros are Tanzania to the northwest and the Seychelles to the northeast. Its capital is Moroni, on Grande Comore.
At 1,862 km2 (719 sq mi), excluding the contested island of Mayotte, the Comoros is the third-smallest African nation by area. The population, excluding Mayotte, is estimated at 798,000. The name "Comoros" derives from the Arabic word قمر qamar ("moon"). As a nation formed at a crossroads of many civilizations, the archipelago is noted for its diverse culture and history. The Union of the Comoros has three official languages – Comorian, Arabic and French – though French is the sole official language on Mayotte.
Officially, in addition to many smaller islands, the country consists of the four major islands in the volcanic Comoros archipelago: northwesternmost Grande Comore (Ngazidja); Mohéli (Mwali); Anjouan (Nzwani); and southeasternmost Mayotte (Maore). Mayotte, however, has never been administered by the Comoros government (or, before independence, its predecessors). Instead, Mayotte continues to be administered by France (currently as an overseas department) as it was the only island in the archipelago that voted against independence in 1974. France has since vetoed United Nations Security Council resolutions that would affirm Comorian sovereignty over the island. In addition, a referendum on the question of Mayotte becoming an overseas department of France in 2011 was held held on 29 March 2009 and passed overwhelmingly.
The Comoros is the only state to be a member of all of the following: the African Union, Francophonie, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Arab League (of which it is the southernmost state) and the Indian Ocean Commission. Since independence in 1975, the country has experienced numerous coups d'état and, as of 2008, about half the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.