Moroni was ruled from the 12th to 19th century by Muslim sultans after Arab
traders had established it as a small port in the 10th century in a small cove in
south-west Grande Comore (Njazidja) island of the Comoros islands. It
derives its name from the Arabic for "in the heart of the fire" due to its
proximity to Mount Karthala (below), an active volcano that has erupted some twenty
times in the last hundred years alone (it last erupted in 2006 ~ but just for a
The French established
rule over Comoros in 1841 when the island was ceded to them by the King of Mayotte, Andrian Tsouli.
Moroni and the rest of the islands were then administered from the original
capital of the Comoro, Dzaoudzi, on the island of Mayotte until 1958 when the
capital was transferred to Moroni. On independence in 1975 in retained its
status as capital. It has been the scene of many violent
protests since independence with the country
having had more than twenty coups or attempted coups since that time. Many
areas of Moroni are quite run down with rubbish littering the streets and
inadequate sewerage and water disposal facilities leaving an unpleasant odour
in the air.
Moroni with its population of some 60,000, despite many modern office blocks, hotels and
restaurants, retains an Arabic feel with wooden boats scattered
along the seafront, narrow winding streets,
close built whitewashed housing and shops, numerous mosques and a pilgrimage
centre, Chiounda. Perhaps the most famous of its mosques is the
Ancienne Mosque du Vendredi (right) built at the beginning of the
15th century and, whilst still a place of worship, is also a
popular tourist attraction.
Although there are high
levels of unemployment in Moroni, many are engaged in the
manufacture of soft drinks, essential oils such as Ylang Ylang,
metal, wood products and cement. Others rely on the limited
tourist industry for employment or in the production and export
through the port of vanilla, cloves, cocoa and coffee.