The first inhabitants of the island were explorers and immigrants from Indonesia and Polynesia. After that people all around the Indian Ocean began to come to Anjouan and the Comoro Islands. In about 1500, the Sultanate of Ndzuwani (Anjouan) was founded, which took over the entire island (for further information see: List of sultans on the Comoros). The sultanate was the most powerful of all the Comorian sultanates. In 1816, Sultan Alawi bin Husein requested French assistance against the Sultanate of Zanzibar which was threatening his domain. The island came under French protection in 1886. France abolished slavery in then-Ndzuwani in 1899, and formally annexed it in 1912. The strictly republican annexation was opposed by the last reigning sultan but his meager forces were crushed when they offered resistance.
John Mucknell marooned his enemies on Anjouan in 1644. His ship, the John, was owned by the East India Company, but after ridding himself of opposition in this manner, he turned pirate and returned to Britain.
Anjouan joined the State of Comoros when it became independent in 1975.
In 1997, the islands of Anjouan and Mohéli seceded from the Comoros. On 3 August 1997, Anjouan declared itself the independent State of Anjouan (État d’Anjouan) with Foundi Abdallah Ibrahim as president. An independence referendum was subsequently held in October, with over 99% voting in favour. The island then asked to be integrated again into the French Republic; but France refused. A constitution was adopted for Anjouan in a referendum on 25 February 1998.
In 1999, Anjouan had internal conflicts and on 1 August of that year, the 80-year-old Foundi Abdallah Ibrahim resigned, transferring power to a national coordinator, Said Abeid. The government was overthrown in a coup by army and navy officers on 9 August 2001. Mohamed Bacar soon rose to leadership of the junta that took over and by the end of the month he was the leader of the country. Despite two coup attempts in the following three months, including one by Abeid, Bacar’s government remained in power, and was apparently more willing to negotiate with Comoros.
After the creation of the Union, the islands were reunified with Comoros in 2002 and a new Union of the Comoros constitution mandated the election of a President of Anjouan along with presidents for the other two autonomous islands and a President of the Union. Bacar was elected for a 5-year term as President of the island of Anjouan. His term expired on 14 April 2007 and the president of the assembly, Houmadi Caambi, became acting president from 15 April until he was overthrown by forces loyal to Bacar on 10 May.
Peace talks were held between the government and the local regime in Anjouan and agreed to hold free elections in which Mohamed Bacar would stand. Although the Union government delayed the election - citing alleged irregularities and intimidation — Bacar unilaterally printed ballots and held an illegal election in June. The result, due to electoral fraud, was an overwhelming victory of 90 percent. In July 2007, he once again declared the island of Anjouan to be independent of the Comoros.
In February 2008, the Comoros rejected the African Union's extended sanctions against Anjouan and instead opted for a military solution. In early March, the Comoros armed forces and around 400 international reinforcements from the African Union assembled on the island of Mohéli. Hostilities began on March 11, when Comorian forces staged an armed incursion on the island but diplomacy continued with an intervention by South African President Thabo Mbeki who attempted to delay the planned invasion to the distinct displeasure of the Comorian government. There were further incursions between 14 March and 16 March and clashes between local forces loyal to Mohamed Bacar and, presumably, those from the African Union invasion force which then retreated back to Mohéli.
On 19 March, a French military helicopter on a clandestine mission from French-administered Mayotte crashed in the sea close to the city of Sima on Anjouan. Critics of the action allege the helicopter was involved in an attempt to bring Bacar into French exile, and that Bacar was able to hold out so long only because he was protected by the French.
The main operation and, ultimately, the invasion of Anjouan began on the evening of 24 March when five boats transporting approximately 1,500 soldiers had left Mohéli on their way to Anjouan. In the early hours of 25 March, an amphibious landing was made by Comoran troops supported by contingents from the African Union. The combined forces quickly advanced on the town of Ouani to secure the airfield. After the airport was secured the invasion force apparently split where part of it headed south-west to engage Anjouanais loyalists in the capital, Matsumudu, and the remainder headed south-east capturing the port of Bambao M'Sanga and the second city of Domoni without resistance.
Mohamed Bacar managed to escape to Mayotte by 26 March to seek political asylum. He was subsequently held in custody there by the French administration and brought to the island of Réunion, where he was charged for entering French territory illegally and possession of weapons. On 15 May, France rejected Bacar's request for asylum but the French refugee office ruled that the ousted leader could not be extradited to Comoros because of the risk of persecution. France's State Secretary for Overseas, Yves Jégo, said France would support the Comoran government's efforts. "We will continue to act in consultation with the Comoros so that the law can be applied and Col Bacar can be tried."
Following the March 2008 invasion of Anjouan, the interim president of Anjouan was Laili Zamane Abdou In May 2008, The Constitutional Court of the Comoros approved five candidates to contest the Anjouan presidential election of 15 June and invalidated the candidacy of Mohamed Bacar. Comoran President A.A. Sambi supported engineer Moussa Toybou for the position who won a bare plurality in the initial balloting. In the second round of the elections held on 29 June, he was contested by political veteran Mohamed Djaanfari but won with 52% of the vote.
Anjouan is part of the Comoros Islands located in the Mozambique Channel. The second most important (and the most populous) city on Anjouan is Domoni.
The highs on the island range from 27 to 32 °C (81 to 90 °F) year-round. The weather is warm and humid from December to April and slightly cooler from May to November.
The Anjouan scops owl is a rare owl. The Anjouan sparrowhawk is a possibly extinct subspecies of the Frances's goshawk.
African mainlanders, Creoles, Arabs, Malay-Polynesians, Antalotes and Shirazis make up the population of Anjouan. The main religion is Sunni Islam. Although the island is filled with large numbers of mosques, religious observance is not as strict as it is in many other countries observing Islam. Alcohol is forbidden to Muslims.
The island uses the Comorian franc as a currency which is printed by the Bank of France and issued by the central bank of the country, the Central Bank of the Comoros. The economy of the island is dependent on agriculture and related industries. These industries employ over 80% of the work force. The island's main food staple is rice, most of which must be imported. Anjouan is the world's primary exporter of ylang-ylang oil, an ingredient in almost all perfumes.
As part of the Union of the Comoros, the banking system of Anjouan is regulated by the Central Bank of the Comoros, created in 1981. Anjouan, pursuant to the Regulation of Banks and Comparable Establishments of 1999, licensed more than 300 offshore banks. All of the shell banks and other entities are located offshore and have no permanent presence in the Comoros. Anjouan sold the right to issue bank licenses and delegated most of its authority to operate and regulate the offshore business to private, non-Comoran domiciled parties.
In 2002, after Anjouan’s reentry into the Union of the Comoros as an autonomous island, Anjouan’s Offshore Finance Authority was established to promote the island as a tax haven to attract foreign capital.
In 2005, new laws were passed and all of the banking licenses issued there previous to that date were cancelled. Those that could show proper due diligence were reset by the newly rearranged Offshore Finance Authority, monopolized by Anjouan Corporate Services Limited since 2003, which has claimed the authority as registered agent for all International Business Companies and banking license issuance on the island since that time and authorized directly by the Legislative Assembly in Anjouan. It should also be noted that the company claiming to sell licenses previous to 2003 were sued in the London High Court on behalf of the Anjouan Government and lost, The High Court of Justice in London confirmed after seeing all the legal documentation that Anjouan Corporate Services Ltd, were legally entitled to operate the offshore business, with full consent of the Anjouan Government. All Banking Licenses were being issued as a Class B Banking License and have terms of one year, which were renewable as long as no complaint had been made against the Bank in violation of anti-money laundering regulations, fraud, or Banking laws.
As mentioned on the Official website of the Central Bank of Comoros, in the part "Flash News": "The Central Bank of Comoros recalls that up to date, no license has been delivered for the exercise of financial offshore activities in one of the islands of the Union of the Comoros". Consequently, banking licenses issued by "Anjouan’s Offshore Finance Authority" and "Anjouan Corporate Services Limited" were not recognized by legal authorities. The Anjouan authorities have abandoned the development of the offshore financial sector since the summer of 2008. However, the law creating non-financial offshore companies was legally adopted by the Parliament of Anjouan and non-financial firms registered in Anjouan are recognized legally.
Presidential elections were held in Anjouan on 15 June following the 2008 invasion of Anjouan to oust Mohamed Bacar as President of Anjouan. About 128,000 people were eligible to vote. Mohamed Djaanfari, a former vice-president of the Assembly of the Union of the Comoros, and Moussa Toybou, a former minister in Said Mohamed Djohar's government, advanced to the runoff round held on 29 June. The final official result, as confirmed by the constitutional court on 3 July 2008, declared Toybou the winner with 52.42% of the vote to Djaanfari's 47.58%.
December 20, 2010 Anissi Chamsidine is elected Governor of the island of Anjouan. He works for a full reconciliation with the Union of Comoros. To show this will, the separatist flag was dropped and replaced by a new flag with the same symbol than that of the Union of Comoros (the Moslem crescent and four stars symbolizing the four islands of the archipelago). Henceforth the leader of the autonomous island of Anjouan is named Governor instead of President and the Commissioners instead of Ministers.
Anjouan invested heavily in its national security under Mohamed Bacar. Main components were the Gendarmerie commanded by Commander Abdou, the younger brother of Bacar. A battalion size militia of approximately 500 backed the Gendarmerie. Since the eviction of Bacar in March 2008, the Anjouanais defence forces are led by the Government of the Union of the Comoros.
The main strategic area is the airfield at Ouani with its 1.5 km runway and the bay with the coastal road from the chief town Mutsamudu in the east out to the city of Sima in the west.