At 1,660km2 (640sqmi), excluding the contested island of Mayotte, the Comoros is the third-smallest African nation by area. The population, excluding Mayotte, is estimated at 798,000. As a nation formed at a crossroads of different civilizations, the archipelago is noted for its diverse culture and history.
The archipelago was first inhabited by Bantu speakers who came from East Africa, supplemented by Arab and Austronesian immigration. It became a French colony in the 19th century before becoming independent in 1975. Since independence the country has experienced numerous coups d'état.