COMORES

Comores                                      
The Comoros do not receive the same attention and approbation as its neighbours, Seychelles and Zanzibar. Beaches with turquoise waters hemmed in by coral reefs, the atolls are most famous for it's great diving opportunities. Fantastic sunsets, and air scented with the spices and tropical perfume of vanilla, nutmeg or ylang-ylang spices, A history of political instability has left the islands with one of the poorest and most undeveloped economies in the world, and since independence from France in 1975 the political atmosphere on the islands has been volatile and insecure.The cessation of maritime trade, together with the shrinking demand of its major exports and economy mainstays such as essential oils and spices, has resulted in these 'Perfumed Isles' becoming the 'Forgotten Islands' of the Indian Ocean. But the islands offer a fantastic holiday for those seeking a destination where nature and scenery hold the biggest appeal: there is superb diving in an underwater wonderland of corals and fish, a variety of animal and bird life that is unique to the islands, and diverse terrain from volcanic craters to undisturbed beaches to explore.



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 General Information

Time
Local time is GMT +3.

Electricity
Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round two-pin plugs and one with receptacle with male grounding pin, are in use.

Language
French and Arabic are the official languages. There are many varieties of Comorian spoken too.

Getting around
Share-taxis are a common form of transport as are taxi-brousses. Between islands there are internal flights (not to Mayotte), and boat services connect the four islands in the archipelago. Ferries are the easiest and cheapest way of island hopping.

Health Certificate
There is a risk of malaria throughout the year, and dengue fever outbreaks occur. Cholera outbreaks also occur, but are a low risk to travellers. Visitors should drink bottled or boiled water as a preventative measure. Medical facilities are limited and medications may not be available. Travellers are advised to bring their own personal medical kit and travel insurance should be comprehensive.

Tipping
Tips of 10% are appreciated for good service.

Safety
The islands are relatively crime-free, but visitors should be aware that muggers and pickpockets will target those who look like they are carrying valuables. It is not advisable to walk around at night, particularly in the town centres. Cyclones are possible between January and April, and Le Kartala volcano on Ngazidja is active and erupts periodically. It is advisable to check on the situation before visiting that part of the island. Foreign governments currently advise against travel to Anjouan due to the unstable political situation.

Customs
The islands are largely Muslim and visitors should respect local traditions and sensitivities, especially during the month of Ramadan. Women in particular are advised to dress conservatively, covering shoulders and legs when away from the beach.

Business
The slow pace of island life is a typical aspect of doing business in the Comoros, where nothing happens too quickly or professionally (French Mayotte is more Western in its approach to punctuality and efficiency). Dress is tidy, but fairly casual, and being an Islamic country, women are expected to dress conservatively. Women are traditionally subservient to men and do not hold key positions in business, so visiting businesswomen will find that they are not treated with the same respect as their male counterparts. Business is usually conducted in French, and sometimes in Arabic, but few people speak English. Business hours are generally 7.30am to 12pm and 3pm to 5.30pm Monday to Thursday, and Fridays until 11am (Islamic holy day). During the holy month of Ramadan very little business gets is conducted.

Communications   ( Country Code +269 )
The international dialling code for the Comoros is +269. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0027 for South Africa). International calls made within the country require operator assistance. There is limited cell phone coverage, but this is growing. The Societe Nationale des Telecommunications provides a GSM 900 network. Internet access is scarce. A few hotels provide Interne.

More Country Information from Foreign & Commonwealth Office.