Comoro Islands - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Comoro Islands, an archipelago of five islands located east of Tanzania and North-West of Madagascar has a total land area of 863.3 square miles and a population of close to one million. Comoros is among the more densely populated countries, with an average of 275 inhabitants per square kilometer. Its flora is rich and varied, and its ylang-ylang, jasmine and orange blossoms account for almost two third of the world’s perfume essence. Cloves, nutmeg, vanilla, and pepper grow well in this climate. Distilling perfume essence is the major industry. It is followed by tourism and handicrafts.
 
Travel Resources:

The cooler months of May through October are the best time to visit the country. In spite of its beaches, marine environment, mountain scenery, and water-sports the tourist industry is not at the level of Mauritius and Seychelles. Visitors come to experience its tropical vegetation and its natural terrain with its extinct and dormant volcanoes. A visit to the fishing village of Itsandra introduces the visitor to the local culture. The island of Nzwani is renowned for its scenic beauty and numerous waterfalls. Comorian cuisine utilizes many different types of spices and exotic ingredients as cloves, saffron, cinnamon and pomegranate juice. A typical Comorian meal is rice with meat, or fish dishes seasoned with one of the many locally produced ingredients like vanilla, coriander, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Lonely Planet Madagascar & Comoros978-1741046083$18Comoros is covered in around 30 pages. Rest is Madagascar.
Comoros Country Study Guide by International Business Publications, USA978-0739742938$90Great introduction to geography, history, people, language, culture, traditions, etc.
Comoro Grounded Adapter Plug – GUBB001FDA812$8



Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Comoro Islands were released in 1950 showing local scenes. The set of nine stamps (Scott #30 to #38) is relatively inexpensive with a catalog value of around $8 MNH and a little less for used. The designs show Anjouan Bay, Comoro woman grinding grain, and Moroni Mosque on Grand Comoro. Anjouan Bay along with the other islands are noted for numerous endemic species although more recently Anjouan made news because of an active separatist movement that led to an “invasion” of the islands by forces led by Comoros, with support from Sudan, Tanzania, Senegal, Libya, and France. The Mosque at the city center in Moroni, the capital is a major landmark.

Comoro Islands released a set of three stamps in 1952. The set (Scott #40 to #42) catalogs for around $25 MNH and $20 used. The designs show Mosque of Ouani and Coelacanth. Coelacanth’s are an order of fish that includes the oldest living lineage of lobe-finned fish PLUS tetrapods known to date. They were believed to have been extinct since the end of the Cretaceous period but were “discovered” in 1938 in Chalumna River in South Africa but has since been found in the Comoros and other areas in East Africa.

Other stamps of Comoro Islands enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. A set of six stamps released on June 20, 1967 in the Birds theme. The set (Scott #69 to #72 and C20-C21) catalogs for around $40 MNH and $30 used. The designs show Comoro sunbird, malachite kingfisher, Rothchild’s fody, and cuckoo-roller. Twenty two species of birds are known to be endemic to the archipelago with seventeen of them living only on territories controlled by the Union.
  2. In July 1975, following a referendum organized by France, the islands of Anjouan, Grand Comoro, and Moheli united to declare independence as the State of Comoro with Mayotte choosing to remain as a French Territory. Comoros Islands released a long set of twenty five stamps in 1975 that were “ETAT COMORIEN” overprints on issues of Comoro Islands from 1971-1975. The set (Scott #131 to #155) is sought after and catalogs for around $50 MNH and $15 used.
  3. A set of seven stamps and a souvenir sheet released on December 30, 1976 in the Endangered Species theme. The set (Scott #233 to #239) has a catalog value of around $25 MNH and $7 for used. The designs show Andean condor, Australian tiger, leopard, white rhinoceros, nyala, orangutan, and lemur. A sister set soon followed on April 14, 1977. That set (Scott #240 to #246) catalogs for around $16 MNH and $5 used. The designs show wolf, aye-aye, cephalopus zebra, giant tortoise, ocelot, penguin, and Sumatran tiger. The two sets however do not sport any of the endemic species from the islands, many of which are also endangered: Livingstone’s fruit bat, maki (smaller version of Lemur), scolopendra (venomous centipede), coelacanth, gecko, beaked dolphin, green turtle, and tail-less tenrec (similar to hedge hog).
  4. A set of four stamps released on December 24, 1986 in the Musical Instruments theme. The set (Scott #631 to #634) catalogs for around $10 MNH and $4 used. The designs show ndzoumara, ndzedze, gaboussi, and ngoma. 
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins of Comoros Islands are Bronze Centimes issues in 1890 when it was the Grande Comore Sultanate. The first coins have mintage between 50,000 and 200,000 and are valued in the $100 to $200 range in UNC. Comoros also issued a 5 Francs silver coin which has low mintage (around 2000) and that is valued into the 1000s for XF and above. The islands came under French protection in 1886 and used standard French coins. Gold coins from the 1960s and 1970s, Essais, FDC Sets, and Mini Sets have a good collector base and are valued highly.


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$5 and upUNCs from the 1960s start around $5. Year sets from the 1960s start around $50. Silver & Gold proofs along with other commemoratives go into the 100s.
Paper Money$5 and upRecent UNCs start around $5. High values (5000 Francs) and bundles start around $30. Rare notes go into the 100s.

Collectible memorabilia:

Spices, art  and handicrafts are the major buys from this beautiful country.


Last Updated: 12/2015.

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