The islands have a total land area of 2,236 square kilometers (including Mahoré), and claim territorial waters of 320 square kilometers. Le Karthala (2316 m) on Grande Comore is an active volcano.
The archipelago is notable for its diverse culture and history, as a nation formed at the crossroads of many civilizations. Though in the contested island of Mayotte the sole official language is French, the "Union of the Comoros" has three official languages: Comorian (Shikomor), Arabic and French.
Flora and fauna
Several mammals are unique to the islands themselves. The Macao, a lemur found only on Mahoré, is protected by French law and by local tradition. Another, Livingstone's fruit bat, although plentiful when discovered by explorer David Livingstone in 1863, has been reduced to a population of about 120, entirely on Nzwani. The world's largest bat, the jet-black Livingstone fruit bat has a wingspan of nearly two meters. A British preservation group sent an expedition to Comoros in 1992 to bring some of the bats to Britain to establish a breeding population.
22 species of bird are unique to the archipelago and 17 of these are restricted to the Union of the Comoros. These include the Karthala Scops-owl, Anjouan Scops-owl and Humblot's Flycatcher.