France gained colonial control over Mayotte in 1843. It is the most populous of the four Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean off Mozambique in Africa. Mayotte chose to remain a French dependency rather than join the other Comoran islands in declaring independence in 1975. Comoros laid claim to Mayotte shortly after independence and continues to do so. In July 2000, 70% of voters opted to accept greater autonomy but to remain a part of France.
In a 2009 referendum, voters approved accession to the status of department by a large majority. In fact, 95% voted in favor of departmental status. On March 31, 2011, Mayotte became an overseas department. An overseas department is part of France that is located elsewhere, not a part of mainland France.
On January 1, 2014, Mayotte is set to become part of the European Union. That will make Mayotte the European Union's outermost region.
During the mid-19th-century ‘scramble for Africa’, Sultan Adriansouli, who had gained quite a few enemies during his rise to power, formed an accord ceding the island to the French in exchange for protection from his rivals. The official transfer of Mayotte took place in May 1843 and the island was transformed first from a sultanate into a haven for French planters and slaveholders, and then into a full colony of France.
A majority of Mahorais voted against independence in a 1974 referendum, and when Ahmed Abdallah Abderemane unilaterally announced the independence of all four islands, Mayotte’s leaders asked France for its intervention. French Foreign Legionnaires and a couple of warships were sent to patrol the territory, and the Comoros’ transition to independence went ahead without Mayotte. Another referendum was held in 1976, during the height of Ali Soilih’s chaotic reign in the independent Comoros, and this time a whopping 99% of the population voted to stay with France. The UN regularly calls on France to hand Mayotte back to the Union des Comores, but faced with a population staunchly opposed to a break with France the French seem disinclined to do so.
The Geography of Mayotte
Total Size: 374 square km
Size Comparison: slightly more than twice the size of Washington, DC
Geographical Coordinates: 12 50 S, 45 10 E
World Region or Continent: Africa
General Terrain: generally undulating, with deep ravines and ancient volcanic peaks
Geographical Low Point: Indian Ocean 0 m
Geographical High Point: Benara 660 m
Climate: tropical; marine; hot, humid, rainy season during northeastern monsoon (November to May); dry season is cooler (May to November)
Languages Spoken: Mahorian (a Swahili dialect), French (official language) spoken by 35% of the population
Independence: none (territorial collectivity of France)
National Holiday: Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
Nationality: Mahorais (singular and plural)
Religions: Muslim 97%, Christian (mostly Roman Catholic)
Economy of Mayotte
Major Industries: newly created lobster and shrimp industry, construction
Agricultural Products: vanilla, ylang-ylang (perfume essence), coffee, copra
Natural Resources: NEGL
Major Exports: ylang-ylang (perfume essence), vanilla, copra, coconuts, coffee, cinnamon
Major Imports: food, machinery and equipment, transportation equipment, metals, chemicals
Currency: euro (EUR)
National GDP: $466,800,000
Places to Visit in Mayotte :
- Dzaoudzi Pamandzi International Airport
- Dzaoudzi Pamandzi Airport