Comoros or Cloud Coup Coup Land as it is sometimes known has a history of unstable politics and multiple coups, thus its nickname! The country's three major islands, Grade Comore, Anjouan and Moheli (the fourth, Mayotte is actually still a part of France) have experienced almost twenty coups since independence.
The political violence and instability has left Comoros desperately poor, it is one of the worlds poorest countries and it has few natural resources with which to recover its failing economy.
As a result of its colonial history and the ongoing political debate regarding the separate status of Mayotte, there are regular demonstrations throughout Comoros and a fairly high level of anti-French sentiment. However, the situation has been relatively calm since elections in 2010.
You should remain vigilant and maintain a low profile while moving around, avoid any crowds or political gatherings as these can quickly turn violent. Monitor local media to keep abreast of local developments during your stay.
The three main islands are generally crime-free, but you should take sensible precautions against pick pocketing and mugging. Do not walk around town centres unaccompanied at night. Safeguard your valuables and cash and keep copies of important documents, including passports, in a separate place to the documents themselves. Deposit them in hotel safes, where practicable.
Violent crime is uncommon; Moheli, for example, has not reported a homicide in decades. The most commonly reported crime is home break-ins. Most reported crimes are crimes of opportunity due to poverty. Physical harassment and violent crime are very rare. In fact male travellers face more nuisances from pushy prostitutes who frequent almost every nightclub than anything else.
The islands are strictly Islamic so you should behave in a respectful manner. Women should dress modestly and Westerners should drink alcohol discreetly, especially during Ramadan. Alcohol is readily available in Moroni from Indian and Chinese merchants near Volo Volo. Castle beer from South Africa and cheap boxed wine from France are common. Most merchants will supply black plastic bags so that no one will notice you bought alcohol...except that they only give black bags to customers buying alcohol!
Although the Comoros are a rather liberal Muslim country, it is disrespectful for women to expose their shoulders, much of their chest, knees, and especially stomach and lower back. Locals will not expect foreign, non-Muslim women to cover their heads. Public affection between men and women is not acceptable. Non-Muslim religious proselytizing is illegal, as is giving Bibles to locals.
Individual reactions may vary upon being photographed, but visitors must be advised that taking unauthorised photographs of the locals will, at best, offend an individual and at worst, cause irrational and potentially violent reactions.
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