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Safety Travel Safety: Africa: Comoros

Comoros: Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros
Capital: Moroni
Population: 614,382
Currency: Comoran franc (KMF)
Languages: Arabic (official), French (official), Shikomoro (a blend of Swahili and Arabic)
Religions: Sunni Muslim 98%, Roman Catholic 2%
Borders: 0 km

The Union of the Comoros is a developing nation located in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa. Comoros consists of three islands, Grand Comore, Moheli, and Anjouan that cover about 900 square miles. Grand Comore is home to the capital city Moroni, and is the most developed of the three islands. Facilities for tourism are limited and telecommunication links are extremely unreliable. French, Arabic, Swahili, and Comorian Creole are spoken.

Comoros has experienced frequent strikes and civil unrest, resulting in violent clashes between police and demonstrators. As the government continues to try and consolidate its rule, periodic strikes and protests both for and against the current government will likely continue to occur. In addition, small and isolated outbreaks of violence also occur between youths in neighboring villages, usually contained within specific areas. This has been mainly attributed to rivalries between villages during sporting events.

Although foreign residents and visitors have not been targeted, the potential for further outbreaks of civil disorder remains high. U.S. citizens should avoid political rallies and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.

Conditions are subject to rapid change on each of the three islands of the Comoros due to a lack of political structure and economic development. U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Port Louis, Mauritius when visiting Comoros if staying for an extended period of time.

U.S. travelers are advised to be vigilant against pick-pocketing and other forms of petty crime when visiting crowded market areas, parks, and at the beaches. Violent crime is uncommon. The most commonly reported crime is breaking into homes and vehicles in order to steal electronic equipment.

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country�s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating the laws of Comoros, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs in Comoros are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18, whether or not the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien intended to engage in such illicit sexual conduct prior to going abroad. For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct includes any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18. The law defines a commercial sex act as any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by a person under the age of 18.

Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998, it is a crime to use the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transmit information about a minor under the age of 16 for criminal sexual purposes that include, among other things, the production of child pornography. This same law makes it a crime to use any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transport obscene materials to minors under the age of 16.

Medical facilities in Comoros are poorly equipped. Travelers should bring their own supplies of prescription drugs and preventive medicines.

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Comoros is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

In Comoros, one drives on the right side of the street. Roads are generally adequate but are very narrow and poorly lit at night. Travelers should exercise extreme caution when driving after dark. Most urban roads are paved, but many rural roads are not. Speed limits range from 30 to 40 miles an hour. Drivers and front seat passengers are required to wear seat belts. There are no laws regarding child safety seats.

There are no organizations in Comoros that provide emergency or roadside assistance. Individuals involved in accidents rely on passersby for assistance.

Taxis or a rental car with driver are preferable to public transportation.

Safety of public transportation: Poor
Urban road conditions/maintenance: Fair
Rural road conditions/maintenance: Poor
Availability of roadside/ambulance assistance: Poor

As there is no direct commercial air service between the U.S. and Comoros by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate such service, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Civil Aviation Authority of Comoros for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Comorian air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA website at

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at (618) 229-4801.

Please also refer to the separate Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.

August 25, 2004

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