The most recent official census by the Comoran
conducted in 1991, put the islands' population, exclusive
Mahoré, at 446,817. Official counts put the population of
at 67,167 in 1985 and 94,410 in 1991--a 40 percent
just six years.
Average population density in Comoros was 183 persons
square kilometer in 1980. This figure concealed a great
between the republic's most crowded island, Nzwani, which
density of 470 persons per square kilometer in 1991;
which had a density of 250 persons per square kilometer in
and Mwali, where the 1991 population density figure was
persons per square kilometer. Overall population density
increased to about 285 persons per square kilometer by
Mahoré's population density went from 179 persons per
kilometer in 1985 to 251 per square kilometer in 1991.
By comparison, estimates of the population density per
kilometer of the Indian Ocean's other island microstates
from 241 (Seychelles) to 690 (Maldives) in 1993. Given the
terrain of Njazidja and Nzwani, and the dedication of
tracts to agriculture on all three islands, population
on Comoros are becoming increasingly critical. A similar
situation obtains on Mahoré.
The age structure of the population of Comoros is
that of many developing countries, in that the republic
very large proportion of young people. In 1989, 46.4
the population was under fifteen years of age, an
proportion even for sub-Saharan Africa. The population's
growth was a relatively high 3.5 percent per annum in the
mid1980s , up substantially from 2.0 percent in the mid-1970s
percent in the mid-1960s.
In 1983 the Abdallah regime borrowed US$2.85 million
IDA to devise a national family planning program. However,
Islamic reservations about contraception made forthright
and implementation of birth control programs politically
hazardous, and consequently little was done in the way of
(see Status of Women
, this ch.).
The Comoran population has become increasingly
recent years. In 1991 the percentage of Comorans residing
cities and towns of more than 5,000 persons was about 30
up from 25 percent in 1985 and 23 percent in 1980.
largest cities were the capital, Moroni, with about 30,000
people, and the port city of Mutsamudu, on the island of
with about 20,000 people. Mahoré's capital, Dzaoudzi, had
population of 5,865 according to the 1985 census; the
largest town, Mamoudzou, had 12,026 people.
Migration among the various islands is relatively
Natives of Njazidja often settle in less crowded Mwali,
before independence people from Nzwani commonly moved to
In 1977 Mahoré expelled peasants from Njazidja and Nzwani
recently settled in large numbers on the island. Some were
allowed to reenter starting in 1981 but solely as migrant
The number of Comorans living abroad has been estimated
between 80,000 and 100,000; most of them lived in
Madagascar, and other parts of East Africa. The number of
Comorans residing in Madagascar was drastically reduced
anti-Comoran rioting in December 1976 in Mahajanga, in
least 1,400 Comorans were killed. As many as 17,000
Madagascar to seek refuge in their native land in 1977
About 40,000 Comorans live in France; many of them had
for a university education and never returned. Small
Indians, Malagasy, South Africans, and Europeans live on
islands and play an important role in the economy.
Data as of August 1994