Constitutional reforms adopted in 2009 represented a turning point in Comoros’ development, transforming relations between the islands, significantly reducing tensions, and improving the prospects for greater stability. The amendments adjusted the autonomy of the islands, converted the island presidents to governors, and reaffirmed the unity of the state and the role of the federal government.
Presidential elections were held in late 2010 and the new president took office in May 2011. With elections for Union deputies, Island Advisors, and Local Mayors held in February 2015 and presidential elections to follow suit in 2016, these developments are expected to contribute to greater political stability in the future and establish a new focus on a continuous reform program in the Comoros that breaks from a long history of political and institutional instability.
Comoros is characterized by geographical isolation, limited resources, a small domestic market, a narrow export base, and a considerable dependence on food imports and remittances. Since its independence, political instability has contributed to declining incomes and has taken a severe toll on the government's ability to deliver quality basic services.
Comoros remains vulnerable to macroeconomic volatility caused primarily by weak fiscal policy and a lack of fiscal space for investment in infrastructure and social sectors. Economic growth has consistently exceeded 2% since 2009 and reached 3.5% in 2013, benefiting from stronger agricultural exports (for example, vanilla and ylang ylang), increased construction activities, increased foreign aid, some direct investment, and resilient levels of remittances. However, in 2014 economic activity slightly decelerated to 3% as structural reforms in key infrastructure sectors like electricity and telecom continued to be delayed.
Comoros has a dense population of about 390 inhabitants per square kilometer. With a population growth rate estimated at 2.4%, the population is projected to reach one million in twelve years and to more than double by the year 2050. More than half of the population (53%) is younger than 20 years of age.
Poverty remains widespread, especially in rural and remote areas. According to the most recent Complete Household Survey (EIM 2004) the poverty incidence at the household level was 36.9% in 2004 and the share of the population with incomes below $1.25 per day was estimated at 48%. Poverty was mostly a rural phenomenon, with four out of five rural households classified as poor; in urban areas, only one in four was poor. The incidence of poverty varies significantly across the islands and is generally higher in rural areas and in Anjouan.
Comoros ranked 159th out of 187 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index in 2014. Progress has been made on several of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Comoros is on track to achieve the universal primary education goal and HIV/AIDS, with little progress on poverty and water access. The country also made progress toward reducing child mortality and maternal health, indicators that many other countries have found very difficult to achieve. One of the most challenging targets, especially in the wake of the food price crisis, will be to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
Last Updated: May 12, 2015