Human habitation may date to about 2000 BC, but such early haitation is based primarily on leged. Persians are belieed to have establishing Islam as the dominant religion. Persian sultanates established trade relations with ports all along the Indian Ocean which led to a thriving economy based on trade. Gradually Arab traders displaced the Persians. Spices and slaves were especually important. The Sultanate of Ndzuwani (Anjouan) was founded about the time the Europeans entered the Indian Ocean (about 1500). The Ndzuwani sultanate became the most powerful of all the Comorian sultanates. Sultan Alawi bin Husein requested French assistance against the Sultanate of Zanzibar which was threatening his domain (1816). This was just after the Napoleonic Wars. The islands was recognized as within the French zone of influence by the Great Powers following the Berlin Conference which played an important role in the Scramble for Africa (1887). The Comoros chose to remain part of the French Republic (1958). They remained a part of France until three of the islands: Ngazidja (Grande Comore), Mwali (Moheli), and Nzwani (Anjouan), declared independence from France (1975). Since then the history of the islands has been stormy. There have been more than 20 coups or attempted coups and declations of independence by individual islands. Eventually most of the islanders chose independence and chanhed their names to the local language. The fourth, Mayptte, chose to remain a part of France. They have formed the Union of Comoros, but each of the three islands have substantial autonomy. The fourth major island, Maore (Mayotte) voted to fully integrate with France (2009). The Comoros Union Government which claims the island and labels the referendum null and void. Thus Mayote is administered as part of France.
The Comoros were not settled in pre-history despite being located close to East africa where humans evolved. The reason was of course that humans did not have the technology to cross any significant expanse of open ocean.
Human habitation on the Comoros may date to about 2000 BC, but such early haitation is based primarily on leged. It is known that the Phonecians entered the Atlantic and traded off west Africa. There are gends that they and other Europeans reached the Comomros, but there is no proof. The Islands are thought to have been explored by Arab and Persian traders in pre-Islamic times. The earliest verifiavle human presence is pre-Islamic (6th century AD). Like Madagascar the Island were settled by small numbers of Malayo-Indonesian peoples (5th century AD). It is only when when Bantu-speaking peoples from the African mainland arived that the Islands acquired a substatial population. It is not clear who arrived first and in what numbers. Soe Aficans arrived as fee people. Other Africans were brought as slaves, although the time line us unclear.
Persian Shirazi traders are believed to have establishing Islam as the dominant religion (8th century AD). Some sources claim a later date. The Shirazi are a group of the Swahili people living on the Swahili Coast of East Africa. Tradition claims a Persian origin, but this has not been substntited. Shirazi sultanates established trade relations with ports all along the Indian Ocean which led to a thriving economy based on trade. Gradually Arab traders largely displaced the Shirazis. The western Indian Ocean (Arabian Sea) became essetially an Arab lake and the Arabs became aruling class over a largely African popultion. Spices and slaves were especually important. The Islands were unknown to Europeans during the era that the arabs dominated the Indin Ocean. The Sultanate of Ndzuwani (Anjouan) was founded about the time the Europeans entered the Indian Ocean (about 1500). The Ndzuwani sultanate was the most powerful of all the Comorian sultanates. European only occassionally visited the islands for trade and supplies, but for ceturies did not attempt to seize control. European ships bgan arriving in greater numbers as trade epsnded (17th century). Ndzwani soon became a major supply point on European
trade routes with the East. Ndzwani was usually by a single sultan, who at times attempted to extend his authority to Mayotte and Mwali. Ngazidja for what ever reason was rarely ruled by one sultan. The Comoro sultans unlike the Zanzibar Sultan was no heavily involved in the slave trade. But slaves were brought from the mainland.
The Arabs beginning in the 8th century dominated the Indian Ocean, especially the Arabian Sea. This meant that they controlled the lucrative maritime commerce with the Orient. This did not change until Bartholomeu Dias reached the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa (1486), showing that Ptolemy was wrong about the possibility of a sea route to Asia. This open the way for direct mritime trade with the Eat. Vasco da Gama reached India (1498). Portugal was thus the first European nation to reach India, the Indies, and China. This was an accomplishment od enormous importance. Portugal thus broke the Ottoman-Mamreluke-Venetian monopoly. The balance of power not only began to shift from eastern to western Europe, but more importantly from Asia to Europe. It opened a new chapter in international reltions. Pther European countries entered both the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Soon after Columbus first reached America. A showdown soon came in the Indian Ocean between the Europeas and the Ottomans and Arabs. The decisive battle was fought near the port of Diu, India. The Portuguese fought a combined fleet of the Mamlûk Burji Sultanate of Egypt, the Zamorin of Calicut and the Sultan of Gujarat. The Portuguese had technical maritime support from the Republic of Venice and the Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik). In some historical accounts, the battle is referred to as the Second Battle of Chaul. Diu was of great historical significance because it ended the Arab monopoly on the Indian Ocean. It was the beginning of European naval dominance in Asia. It also opened a new front in the centuries old struggle between Christian and Muslim powers. The new front was of emense strategic importance. Dominance of the Indian Ocean controlled trade with Asia, not only India, but the Spice Islands and China as well. Diu was the beginning of Portuguese domination of the Indian Ocean and made possible the development of the Portuguese Empire. The Portuguese victory was made possible by the increasing European technological advances and the failure of the Arabs to promote modern science and other secular thought unrestrained by religious orthodoxy. Shortly after Diu, the Comoos first appeared on a European map (1527). [Ribero] Soon after the first Europeans (Portuguese) visited the island. Englishman Sir James Lacaster visited the Islands (1591). While the Europeans broke Arab seapower. The primary influence on the Comoros was Arab as the Europeans did not challenge the Arab sultanates dominting the islands. This was to an extent the case in East Africa as well until the Royal Navy began supressing the largely Arab Indian Ocean slave trade.
Only in the 19th century did European influence expand in East Africa, including the Comoros. Comoro rulers had security problems. There were Malagasy slsve raids. Sultan Alawi bin Husein requested French assistance against the Sultanate of Zanzibar which was threatening his domain (1816). This was just after the Napoleonic Wars. As France began to recover from the Napoleonic Wars, it began to build a new empire. This began in North Africa, but other territories were seized. Both France and Britain began to show an interest in the Comoros. William Sunley, a planter and British Consul was an important influence on Anjouan (1848–66), but it was the French who would prevail. The French purchased Mayotte (1841). Indepdent sultannates continued to control the other islands. Sultan Selim on Johanna island (Ndzuwani/Anjouan) seized the American whaler Maria, imprisoned her captain named Moores, and demanded a ransom (1850). Until this occurred the American whalers has been using Johanna island as a resupply port. We are not sure to what extent the U.S. Government was counsulted. There was, however, a small U.S. East Indian Squadron. There principal concern was Sumastran pirates and anti-slavery patrols. The East Indian Squadron staged the Johanna Expedition to free Cpt. Moores and rather than pay a ransom obtain compensation (February 1852). The Sultan refused until the sloop USS Dale bombarded the Sultan's harbor fortifications. This impressed Sultan Selim who paid US$1,000 and released Captain Moores. The Suez Canal was opened (1869). This greatly reduced the value of the Comoros economically as a supply port. They still were of some strategic importance. Sultan Said Ali bin Said Omar of Bambao, signed an agreement with the French government that accepted a protectorate over the entire island of Ngazidja (Grande Comore). The Sultanate of Bambao was a principality on the island of Grande Comore. Its capital was the town of Iconi. Sultan Said with French support united the sultanates of Grand Comore into the state of Ngazidja under his control. French protectorates were also established over Ndzwani (Anjouan), and Mwali (Mohéli). French Résidents (administrators) were posted on the three islands. The French left local control in the hands of the various sultans. The islands was recognized as within the French zone of influence by the Great Powers following the Berlin Conference which played an important role in the Scramble for Africa (1886-87). For several decades, the French ruled Mayotte which it had purchased separately. The French declared the three Comonro protectorates and Mayotte a single colony (1908). The Islands were attached to colonial Madagascar as a province (1912). After the German invasion and occupation of France during World War II (1940), the French colonial administration of Madagascar (including the Comoros) remained steadfastly loyal to Vichy France. The Brtish had to launch an expedition to seze the Islands (1942). They were returned to France after the War (1946). The Comoros were separated from Madagascar and became an overseas territory of France (1947). This gave them representation in the French National Assembly. As Madagscar moved toward independence, the Comoros chose to remain part of the French Republic (1958). Madagascar was given independence (1960). The Comoros were granted internal autonomy (1961). .
The Comoros remained a part of France until three of the islands: Ngazidja (Grande Comore), Mwali (Moheli), and Nzwani (Anjouan), voted for independence from France (1974). A majority om Mayotte voted to retain ties with France. The French National Assemby voted that each island shuld determine its future. Comorian President Ahmed Abdallah declared independence, but included all four islands in the declaration. Since then the history of the islands has been stormy President Aballah was deposed before the end of the year. . There have been more than 20 coups or attempted coups and declations of independence by individual islands. Eventually most of the islanders chose independence and chanhed their names to the local language. The fourth, Mayotte, chose to remain a part of France. They have formed the Union of Comoros, but each of the three islands have substantial autonomy. The fourth major island, Maore (Mayotte) voted to fully integrate with France (2009). The Comoros Union Government which claims the island and labels the referendum null and void. Thus Mayote is administered as part of France.
Ribero, Diego. Ribero was a Portuguese cartograoher.
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