- Total374 km2
144 sq mi
212,645 (Aug 2012)
| Mamoudzou, Dzaoudzi, Kaweni, Labattoir, Pamandzi|
Mayotte (French: , Shimaore: Maore, Malagasy: ) is an overseas department and region of France. It consists of a main island, Grande-Terre (or Maore), a smaller island, Petite-Terre (or Pamandzi), and several islets around these two. The archipelago is located in the northern Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Southeast Africa, between northwestern Madagascar and northeastern Mozambique.
Mayottes area is 374 square kilometres (144 sq mi) and, with its 212,645 people, is very densely populated at 569 per km² (1,473 per sq mi). The biggest city and prefecture is Mamoudzou on Grande-Terre. However, the Dzaoudzi–Pamandzi International Airport is located on the neighbouring Petite-Terre island. The territory is geographically part of the Comoro Islands, but the people of Mayotte chose to remain politically a part of France in the 1974 referendum. The territory is also known as Maore, the native name of its main island, especially by advocates of its inclusion in the Union of Comoros. In a 2009 referendum, the population overwhelmingly approved accession to status of department (95.2% voted in favour of departmental status). Mayotte became an overseas department on 31 March 2011 and became an outermost region of the European Union on 1 January 2014.
The term Mayotte (or Maore) may refer to the group of islands, of which the largest is known as Maore (French: ), and it includes Maores surrounding islands, most notably Pamanzi (Petite-Terre), or to the largest island mentioned.
The main island, Grande-Terre (or Maore), geologically the oldest of the Comoro Islands, is 39 kilometres (24 mi) long and 22 kilometres (14 mi) wide, and its highest point is Mount Benara, at 660 metres (2,165 ft) above sea level. Because of the volcanic rock, the soil is relatively rich in some areas. A coral reef encircling much of the island ensures protection for ships and a habitat for fish. Dzaoudzi was the capital of Mayotte (and earlier the capital of all the colonial Comoros) until 1977. It is situated on Petite-Terre (or Pamanzi), which at 10 square kilometres (4 sq mi) is the largest of several islets adjacent to Maore.
In 1500, the Maore or Mawuti (contraction of the Arabic ????? ????? Jazirat al-Mawt -meaning island of death and corrupted to Mayotte in French) sultanate was established on the island. In 1503, Mayotte was observed by Portuguese explorers, but not colonized.
In 1832, it was conquered by Andriantsoly, former king of Iboina on Madagascar; in 1833, conquered by the neighboring sultanate of Mwali (Moheli island in French); on 19 November 1835, again conquered by the Ndzuwani Sultanate (Anjouan sultanate in French); a governor was installed with the unusual Islamic style of Qadi (from the Arabic ??? which means judge, sort of a resident magistrate in British terms), but in 1836, regained its independence under a last local Sultan.
Mayotte was ceded to France in 1841. It was the only island in the archipelago that voted in referendums in 1974 and 1976 to retain its link with France and forgo independence (with 63.8% and 99.4% of votes respectively). The Comoros continue to claim the island. A draft 1976 United Nations Security Council resolution recognizing Comorian sovereignty over Mayotte, supported by 11 of the 15 members of the Council, was vetoed by France. It was the last time, as of 2011, that France cast a lone veto in the Council. The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a series of resolutions on the issues, whose tenor can be gauged from their title: "Question of the Comorian Island of Mayotte" up to 1995. Since 1995, the subject of Mayotte has not been discussed by the General Assembly.
Mayotte became an overseas department of France in March 2011 in consequence of a 29 March 2009 referendum. The outcome was a 95.5 per cent vote in favour of changing the islands status from a French "overseas community" to become Frances 101st departement. Its non-official traditional Islamic law, applied in some aspects of the day-to-day life, will be gradually abolished and replaced by the uniform French civil code. Additionally, French social welfare and taxes apply in Mayotte, though some of each will be brought in gradually. Comoros continues to claim the island, while criticising the French military base there.