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    Economy

Comoros, with an estimated gross domestic product (GDP) per capita income of about $700, is among the world's poorest and least developed nations. Although the quality of the land differs from island to island, most of the widespread lava-encrusted soil formations are unsuited to agriculture. As a result, most of the inhabitants make their living from subsistence agriculture and fishing.

Agriculture, involving more than 80% of the population and 40% of the gross domestic product, provides virtually all foreign exchange earnings. Services including tourism, construction, and commercial activities constitute the remainder of the GDP. Plantations engage a large proportion of the population in producing the islands' major cash crops for export: vanilla, cloves, perfume essences, and copra. Comoros is the world's leading producer of essence of ylang-ylang, used in manufacturing perfume. It also is the world's second-largest producer of vanilla. Principal food crops are coconuts, bananas, and cassava. Foodstuffs constitute 32% of total imports.

The country lacks the infrastructure necessary for development. Some villages are not linked to the main road system or at best are connected by tracks usable only by four-wheel-drive vehicles. The islands' ports are rudimentary, although a deepwater facility functions in Anjouan. Only small vessels can approach the existing quays in Moroni on Grande Comore, despite improvements. Long-distance, ocean-going ships must lie offshore and be unloaded by smaller boats; during the cyclone season, this procedure is dangerous, and ships are reluctant to call at the island. Most freight is sent first to Mombasa, Kenya or the island of Reunion and transshipped from there.

France, Comoros' major trading partner, finances small projects only. The United States receives a growing percentage of Comoros' exports but supplies only a negligible fraction of its imports (less than 1%).

Comoros has an international airport at Hahaya on Grande Comore. Comoros has its own currency, the Comorian Franc, which is currently valued at 437 CF = U.S. $1.

GDP (purchasing power parity): $419 million.
Annual growth rate: 0.5%.
Per capita income: $720.
Agriculture (40% of GDP): Products--vanilla, cloves, perfume essences, copra, banana, cassava, coconuts.
Services (56% of GDP): Commerce, tourism.
Industry (4% of GDP): Types--perfume distillation.
Trade: Exports (1999 est.)--$7.9 million: vanilla, cloves, perfume essences, copra. Major markets--France, Germany. Imports (1998 est.)--$35.84 million: rice, petroleum, meat, wheat flour, cotton textiles, cement. Major suppliers--France 38%, Pakistan 13%, Kenya 8%, South Africa 8%.