AN ARCHIpELAGO OF four islands in the Indian Ocean, the Comoros Islands have a land area of 838 sq. mi. (2,235 sq. km.), with a population of 798,000 (2005 est.), and a population density of 710 people per sq. mi. (275 people per sq. km.), the highest population density of any African country. The Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros, formerly a French colony, has 3.5 percent arable land, with an additional 7 percent used for meadows and pasture. Some 16 percent of the land area is forested, with a timber industry operating on the island of Njazidja.

The country is relatively poor and undeveloped, and even though it has a burgeoning tourism industry, it has a very low carbon dioxide emissions, with less than 0.1 metric tons per capita in 1990, rising to 0.12 metric tons per person in 2003. Some 89.4 percent of its electricity production is from fossil fuels, with the remainder from hydropower. All the country's carbon dioxide emissions are from liquid fuels, with much of this coming from automobiles and buses, and domestic electricity consumption. There is a small public transportation system in the islands.

Located in the Indian Ocean, global warming and climate change pose a severe risk of flooding for the islands, which are subjected to annual monsoons. Scientists envisage a loss of marine wildlife around the Comoros in the future, owing to the rising average temperature of the Indian Ocean. Scientists also foresee a shortage of drinking water.

The Comoros government took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992, and ratified the Vienna Convention two years later. The government of President Azali Assoumani has not expressed an opinion on the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

SEE ALSO: Indian Ocean; Oceanic Changes; Sea Level, Rising.

BIBLIOGRApHY. Gemma Pitcher and P.C. Wright, Madagascar & Comoros (Lonely Planet, 2004); World Resources Institute, "Comoros—Climate and Atmosphere," www. (cited October 2007).

JUSTIN CORFIELD Geelong Grammar School, Australia

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