Mayotte is a French overseas department and Indian Ocean region
between Madagascar and the Indian Ocean coast of Mozambique, the
capital is Mamoudzou.
Mayotte is an overseas department and region of France. Previously, it had been a regional authority of the French Republic since 1976 (Collectivité territoriale de la République française, since 2001 under the name Collectivité départementale). On March 31, 2011, Mayotte received the status of the 101st French department; it became part of the European Union as an Outermost Region (OMR) on 1 January 2014 and has the same status as, say, French Guiana.
98% of the population are Sunni Muslims. The official language is French, but the main language spoken is Mahorian, a variant of Swahili. The island is called "Mahoré" in Mahorian, from which the name of the language "Mahorian" and the attribute "Mahorian" are derived. The inhabitants of Mayotte are called "Mahorer".
The Mayotte archipelago consists of the main island "Grande Terre" (also called Mayotte, like the entire overseas territory itself), the side island "Petite Terre" (Pamanzi) and several smaller and uninhabited islands (îlots). The land area is about 374 km². At around nine million years old, Mayotte is the oldest volcanic island in the Comoros. Coral reefs surround the islands. In the rainy season from November to March, temperatures are higher than in the dry season. The highest point is Mont Benara on the main island at 660 meters. The capital, Mamoudzou, is also on the main island, while Dzaoudzi Pamandzi International Airport is on Petite Terre.
Due to its location on the edge of the Indian Ocean and the lack of light sources on the island, Mayotte is hardly affected by light pollution.
In 2018, an 820 meter high submarine volcano arose on the seabed fifty kilometers east of Mayotte at a depth of around 3500 meters, which was noticeable in the same year with an earthquake swarm and a fish kill in the region. Approximately five cubic kilometers of lava were pumped, making this probably the largest underwater eruption ever observed.
Mayotte was in the hands of Malagasy rulers and local sultans since
the 1500s. Slave hunts by the Sakalava people of Madagascar largely
depopulated the island until it was declared a protectorate by France in
1841 at the request of the defenseless sultan for a sum of 1000
Piastres. As the only island group in the archipelago, it maintained
ties with France in the 1974 vote and thus renounced independence. Since
then, the state of the Comoros has claimed Mayotte and does not
recognize its affiliation with France. This is based on a UN resolution
In a referendum held on March 29, 2009, a majority of Mayotte residents supported that the area should receive the competences of the overseas departments and regions under Article 73 of the French Constitution. As a result, on March 31, 2011, Mayotte became the 101st department of France.
According to Marie-Claire Thull, in the early 2010s, Mayotte's per capita gross domestic product was ten times that of the Comoros. However, GDP per capita is less than a third compared to heartland France. The French Embassy in Germany announced in December 2010 that the aim of French policy was "to bring the standard of living of the Mahorian population up to the level of the motherland residents".
Mayotte became part of the European Union on 1 January 2014 as an Outermost Region (OMR).
Mayotte is represented in the French National Assembly with two deputies (since June 2012) and in the Senate with two senators. From 1976 to 2001, Mayotte was a territorial entity (Collectivité territoriale) under Article 72 of the Constitution, in July 2001 it received the designation Collectivité départementale and in 2007 under Article 74 the status of Collectivité d'outre-mer ("overseas entity"). Mayotte has a General Council and has been an overseas department since March 31, 2011, but was not part of the European Union until the end of a transition period on December 31, 2013.
A small contingent of French soldiers from the Détachement de Légion Etrangère de Mayotte (Foreign Legion) is still stationed on the island.
French law has applied on the island since 2014. Mayotte residents had until December 31, 2013 to decide which law applied to them, either:
general (French) law as it applies in European France (Code civil, notaries, administration, courts, etc.) or
the so-called statut personnel, then European law did not apply, nor did laïcité. This status was only possible for the Islamic residents of Mayotte and immigrants from the Comoros or from north-western Madagascar. The administration of justice was carried out by Islamic kadis. Affected was the legal status of women (including unilateral divorce, polygamy), inheritance law (e.g. discrimination based on religious affiliation) and land law. According to Muslim law, marriages were contracted from the age of 15.
The legal specificity of the statut personnel was an obstacle to Mayotte's full incorporation into the French state and the European Union. On March 29, 2009, a referendum was held on whether Mayotte should be transformed into a fully-fledged French department. With a turnout of 61.4%, 95.2% voted “yes”.
With the incorporation that took place in 2011, the legal system was adapted to that of the mother country. On January 1, 2014, Mayotte received the status of an "outermost region" and has been part of the EU ever since. Since then, French law has been mandatory.