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definitions - Mayotte

Mayotte (n.)

1.(MeSH)A group of Indian Ocean Islands, the islands of Great Comoro, Anjouan, Mayotte, and Moheli, lying between northeast Mozambique and northwest Madagascar. The capital is Moroni. In 1914 they became a colony attached to Madagascar administratively and were made a French overseas territory in 1947. Except for Mayotte which remained French, Comoros became an independent republic in 1975. Comoros represents the Arabic qamar, moon, said by some scholars to be linked with the mystical Mountains of the Moon said to be somewhere in equatorial Africa. (From Webster's New Geographical Dictionary, 1988, p283&Room, Brewer's Dictionary of Names, 1992, p122)

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-Barakani, Mayotte • Chris Mayotte • Coat of arms of Mayotte • Colonial and Departmental Heads of Mayotte • Communes of Mayotte • Coupe de Mayotte • Demographics of Mayotte • Economy of Mayotte • Elections in Mayotte • Flag of Mayotte • General Council of Mayotte • Geography of Mayotte • History of Mayotte • Islam in Mayotte • Judith Ann Mayotte • Kangani, Mayotte • LGBT rights in Mayotte • List of Mayotte-related topics • List of airports in Mayotte • List of cities in Mayotte • List of islands of Mayotte • List of mammals of Mayotte • List of non-marine molluscs of Mayotte • List of political parties in Mayotte • Longoni, Mayotte • Mayotte Division Honneur • Mayotte Drongo • Mayotte Scops-owl • Mayotte Sunbird • Mayotte national football team • Mayotte national rugby union team • Mayotte's 1st constituency • Mayotte, Nossi-Bé, and Comoro • Outline of Mayotte • Politics of Mayotte • Postage stamps and postal history of Mayotte • Rugby union in Mayotte • Sada, Mayotte • Scouting and Guiding in Mayotte • Telecommunications in Mayotte • Tim Mayotte

analogical dictionary



Department of Mayotte
Flag of Mayotte Coat of arms
(and largest city)
Mamoudzou (prefecture)
Official language(s) French
Vernacular languages Shimaore (Swahili), Malagasy
Ethnic groups  92% Comorian (Bantu, Arab, and Malagasy), 3% Swahili, 2% French, 1% Makua, 2% other[1]
Demonym Mahoran
Government Overseas department
 -  President of the General Council Daniel Zaïdani
 -  Prefect Thomas Degos
Overseas department of France and overseas region
 -  since 31 March 2011 
 -  Total 374 km2 (~185th)
144 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 0.4
 -  2009 estimate 194,000[2] 
 -  2007 census 186,452[3] (179th)
 -  Density 498.5/km2 (~21st)
1,291.2/sq mi
GDP (nominal) 2005 estimate
 -  Total US$1.13 billion (€0.91 billion)[4] 
 -  Per capita US$6,500 (€5,200)[4](2005 est.) 
HDI (2003) n/a (unranked) (unranked)
Currency Euro (EUR)
Time zone (UTC+3)
ISO 3166 code YT
Internet TLD .yt
Calling code 262 (was +269 before 2007)

Mayotte (French: Mayotte, pronounced: [majɔt]; Shimaore: Maore, IPA: [maˈore]; Malagasy: Mahori) is an overseas department and region[5] of France consisting of a main island, Grande-Terre (or Mahoré), a smaller island, Petite-Terre (or Pamanzi), and several islets around these two. The archipelago is located in the northern Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean, namely between northwestern Madagascar and northeastern Mozambique. Mayotte's area is 374 square kilometres (144 sq mi), and with its estimated 194,000 people is very densely populated (520 /km2 or 1,300 /sq mi). Its biggest city and prefecture is Mamoudzou. The territory is geographically part of the Comoro Islands, but has been politically separate since a 1974 referendum in which it elected to remain under French rule. The territory is also known as Mahoré, 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). On March 31, 2011, Mayotte became an overseas department.



  Beach scenery in Mayotte

The main island, Grande-Terre (or Mahoré), 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 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 Mahoré.


For the history of Mayotte before 1974 see also History of the Comoros.

In 1500 the Maore or Mawuti (contraction of the Arabic جزيرة الموت Jazīrat al-Mawt -meaning island of the dead / 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 neighbouring sultanate of Mwali (Mohéli 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 قاض 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 along with the other Comoro Islands in 1843. It was the only island in the archipelago that voted in referendums in 1974[6] 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.[7] It was the last time, as of 2011, that France cast a lone veto in the Council.[8] 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.[9] The outcome was a 95.5 per cent vote in favour of changing the island's status from a French "overseas community" to become France's 101st département.[10] 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.[11] Additionally, French social welfare and taxes apply in Mayotte, though some of each will be brought in gradually.[12]

  Sea near Mamoudzou


Politics of Mayotte takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic French overseas community, whereby the President of the General Council is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government.

Mayotte also sends one deputy to the French National Assembly and two senators to the French Senate.

The situation of Mayotte proved to be awkward for France: while the local population very largely did not want to be independent from France and join the Comoros, some international criticism from post-colonial leftist regimes was heard about Mayotte's ongoing ties to France. Furthermore, the peculiar local administration of Mayotte, largely ruled by customary Muslim law, would be difficult to integrate into the legal structures of France, not to mention the costs of bringing the standards of living to levels close to those of Metropolitan France. For these reasons, the laws passed by the national parliament had to state specifically that they applied to Mayotte for them to be applicable on Mayotte.

The status of Mayotte was changed in 2001 towards one very close to the status of the departments of France, with the particular designation of departmental collectivity. This change was approved by 73% of voters in a referendum. After the constitutional reform of 2003 it became an overseas collectivity while retaining the title "departmental collectivity" of Mayotte.

Mayotte became an overseas department of France (or DOM, département d'outre-mer) on 31 March 2011 following the result of the March 2009 Mahoran status referendum, which was overwhelmingly approved by around 95% of voters.[13][14] Becoming an overseas department will mean it will adopt the same legal and social system as used in the rest of France. This will require abandoning some customary laws, adopting the standard French civil code, and reforming the judiciary, educational, social and fiscal systems, and will take place over a period of about 20 years.[15] Despite its domestic constitutional evolution from the status of an overseas collectivity to that of an overseas department, Mayotte will remain an 'Overseas country and territory' (OCT) in association with the Union and will only become an outermost region of the European Union on the request of the French government, and through the process outlined in Declaration 43 annexed to the Treaty of Lisbon.

  Administrative divisions

Mayotte is divided into 17 communes. There are also 19 cantons (not shown here) each of which corresponds to one of the communes, except for the commune of Mamoudzou which is divided into three cantons. There are no arrondissements.

Communes of Mayotte
  1. Dzaoudzi
  2. Pamandzi
  3. Mamoudzou
  4. Dembeni
  5. Bandrélé
  6. Kani-Kéli
  7. Bouéni
  8. Chirongui
  9. Sada
  10. Ouangani
  11. Chiconi
  12. Tsingoni
  13. M'Tsangamouji
  14. Acoua
  15. Mtsamboro
  16. Bandraboua
  17. Koungou



The official currency of Mayotte is the euro.[16]

In 2005 the GDP of Mayotte at market exchange rates was US$1.13 billion (€0.91 billion).[4] In that same year the GDP per capita of Mayotte at market exchange rates, not at PPP, was US$6,500 (€5,200),[4] which was 10 times higher than the GDP per capita of the Comoros that year, but only a third of the GDP per capita of Réunion and 19% of the GDP per capita of Metropolitan France.[4]


1958 1966 1978 1985 1991 1997 2002 2007
23,364 32,607 47,246 67,205 94,410 131,320 160,265 186,452
Official population figures from past censuses.

As of the July 2007 census there were 186,452 people living in Mayotte.[3] According to the 2002 census, 64.7% of the people living in Mayotte were born in Mayotte, 3.9% were born in the rest of the French Republic (either metropolitan France or overseas France except Mayotte), 28.1% were immigrants from the Comoros, 2.8% were immigrants from Madagascar, and the remaining 0.5% came from other countries.[17]

  A view of Sada with a mosque in the background.

The main religion in Mayotte is Islam,[18] with 97% of the population Muslim and 3% Christian.[6] 85,000 of the total 90,000 inhabitants of the island are Comorians. The Comorians are a blend of settlers from many areas: Iranian traders, mainland Africans, Arabs and Malagasy. Comorian communities can also be found in other parts of the Comoros chain as well as in Madagascar.


French is the only official language of Mayotte. It is the language used for administration and the school system. It is the language most used on television and radio as well as in commercial announcements and billboards. In spite of this, Mayotte is one of the French overseas territories where the knowledge of French is the least developed. At the 2002 census, only 55% of people older than 15 declared they could read and write French, although this figure is higher than those who can read and write Shimaore (41%) or Arabic (33%).

With the mandatory schooling of children and the economic development both implemented by the French central state, the French language has progressed significantly on Mayotte in recent years. The survey conducted by the Ministry of National Education showed that while first and second language speakers of French represented 56.9% of the population in general, this figure was only 37.7% for the parents of CM2 (5th year of primary school) pupils, but reached 97.0% for the CM2 pupils themselves (whose age is between 10 and 14 in general).

Nowadays there are instances of families speaking only French to their children in the hope of helping their social advancement. With French schooling and French-language television, many young people turn to French or use many French words when speaking Shimaore and Kibushi, leading some to fear that these native languages of Mayotte could either disappear or become some sort of French-based creole.[19]

The native languages of Mayotte are:

Kibushi is spoken in the south and north-west of Mayotte, while Shimaore is spoken elsewhere.

Arabic is taught in the Quranic schools. Various dialects of the Comorian language essentially imported by immigrants who have arrived in Mayotte since 1974: Shindzwani (the dialect of Anjouan, or Nzwani), Shingazidja (the dialect of Grande Comore, or Ngazidja), and Shimwali (the dialect of Mohéli, or Mwali).

A survey was conducted by the French Ministry of National Education in 2006 among pupils registered in CM2 (equivalent to fifth grade in the US and Year 6 in England and Wales). Questions were asked regarding the languages spoken by the pupils as well as the languages spoken by their parents. According to the survey, the ranking of mother tongues is the following (ranked by number of first language speakers in the total population; note that percentages add up to more than 100% because some people are natively bilingual):[20]

  • Shimaore: 55.1%
  • Shindzwani: 22.3%
  • Kibushi: 13.6%
  • Shingazidja: 7.9%
  • French: 1.4%
  • Shimwali: 0.8%
  • Arabic: 0.4%
  • Kiantalaotsi: 0.2%
  • Other: 0.4%

However, when also counting second language speakers (e.g. someone whose mother tongue is Shimaore but who also speaks French as a second language) then the ranking becomes:

  • Shimaore: 88.3%
  • French: 56.9%
  • Shindzwani: 35.2%
  • Kibushi: 28.8%
  • Shingazidja: 13.9%
  • Arabic: 10.8%
  • Shimwali: 2.6%
  • Kiantalaotsi: 0.9%
  • Other: 1.2%


Approximately 25% of the adult population, and five times as many women as men, enter trance states in which they are possessed by certain identifiable spirits who maintain stable and coherent identities from one possession to the next. [21]

  See also


  1. ^ ben cahoon. "Information on Mayotte". Worldstatesmen.org. http://www.worldstatesmen.org/Mayotte.htm. Retrieved 1 April 2011. 
  2. ^ Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2009) (PDF). World Population Prospects, Table A.1. 2008 revision. United Nations. http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/wpp2008/wpp2008_text_tables.pdf. Retrieved 12 March 2009. 
  3. ^ a b (French) INSEE, Government of France. "INSEE Infos No 32" (PDF). http://www.insee.fr/fr/insee_regions/reunion/zoom/mayotte/publications/inseeinfos/pdf/insee%20infos%20n32.pdf. Retrieved 2 December 2007. 
  4. ^ a b c d e (French) INSEE. "8.1 Produit intérieur brut" (PDF). http://www.insee.fr/fr/insee_regions/mayotte/themes/dossiers/tem/tem_8-1-pib.pdf. Retrieved 21 August 2010. 
  5. ^ Mayotte devient le 101e département français, 2011-04-04, http://www.gouvernement.gouv.fr/gouvernement/mayotte-devient-le-101e-departement-francais, "C'est pourquoi Mayotte devient le 101e département français et le 5e département d'Outre-Mer et région d'Outre-Mer." 
  6. ^ a b "Africa :: Mayotte". CIA. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mf.html. Retrieved 1 April 2011. 
  7. ^ "France Cast UN Veto". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Feb 7, 1976. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=8O0NAAAAIBAJ&sjid=hG0DAAAAIBAJ&pg=6434,579759&dq=france+mayotte+veto&hl=en. Retrieved 13 April 2011. "The vote was 11-1 with three abstentions -- the United States, Britain and Italy." 
  8. ^ Celine Nahory, Giji Gya, Misaki Watanabe. "Subjects of UN Security Council Vetoes". Global Policy Forum. http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/membship/veto/vetosubj.htm. Retrieved 13 April 2011. 
  9. ^ (French) "Enquête sur le Futur 101e Département". http://www.lefigaro.fr/lefigaromagazine/2009/03/14/01006-20090314ARTFIG00183--enquete-sur-le-futur-101-e-departement-.php. 
  10. ^ "Mayotte votes to become France's 101st department". Telegraph.co.uk. 29 March 2009. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/comorosandmayotte/5072354/Mayotte-votes-to-become-Frances-101st-dpartement.html. Retrieved 1 April 2011. 
  11. ^ (French) Mayotte vote en faveur de la départementalisation, Le Monde, 29 March 2009
  12. ^ "Mayotte becomes 101st department". The Connexion. 31 March 2011. http://www.connexionfrance.com/Mayotte-department-101-France-Outre-Mer-overseas-Indian-Ocean-12618-view-article.html. Retrieved 2 April 2011. 
  13. ^ Elise Cannuel (31 March 2011). "EU shores spread to Indian Ocean island". Deutsche Welle. http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,14957924,00.html. 
  14. ^ "Mayotte accède à son statut de département dans la confusion". Le Monde. http://www.lemonde.fr/politique/article/2011/03/31/mayotte-embrouillamini-autour-de-son-accession-au-statut-de-departement_1501415_823448.html. 
  15. ^ Marina Mielczarek (31 March 2011). "Mayotte devient le 101ème département français". Radio France Internationale. http://www.rfi.fr/france/20110331-mayotte-devient-le-101eme-departement-francais. 
  16. ^ (French) Minister of the Economy, Industry and Employment (France). "L'évolution du régime monétaire outre-mer". http://www.finances.gouv.fr/notes_bleues/nbb/nbb208/outre.htm. Retrieved 30 November 2008. 
  17. ^ (French) INSEE, Government of France. "Population Selon le Lieu de Naissance" (XLS). http://www.insee.fr/fr/insee_regions/reunion/zoom/mayotte/recensements/Tableau02/mig1det.xls. Retrieved 17 May 2007. 
  18. ^ "Europe | Mayotte backs French connection". BBC News. 29 March 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7970450.stm. Retrieved 1 April 2011. 
  19. ^ (French) Mayotte Hebdo (18 June 2004). "Le shimaoré fout le camp!". http://www.malango-mayotte.com/traditions-le_shimaore_fout_le_camp.htm. Retrieved 17 May 2007. 
  20. ^ (French) Daniel Barreteau. "Premiers résultats d'une enquête sociolinguistique auprès des élèves de CM2 de Mayotte" (PDF). http://www.ac-mayotte.fr/IMG/pdf/Interv_BARRETEAU_CM2.pdf. Retrieved 17 May 2007. 
  21. ^ Lambek, Michael 1988 Spirit Possession/Spirit Succession: Aspects of Social Continuity among Malagasy Speakers in Mayotte. American Ethnologist: 15 (4): 710-731

  External links

Wikimedia Atlas of Mayotte

Coordinates: 12°50′35″S 45°08′18″E / 12.84306°S 45.13833°E / -12.84306; 45.13833



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