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History[edit | edit source]
Mayotte is an overseas department and region of France officially named the Department of Mayotte. It consists of a main island, Grande-Terre , a smaller island, Petite-Terre , and several islets around these two. The archipelago is located in the northern Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Southeast Africa, between northwestern Madagascar and northeastern Mozambique.
Although, as a department, Mayotte is now an integral part of France, the majority of the inhabitants do not speak French as a first language. The language of the majority is Shimaore, a Swahili language variety closely related to the varieties in the neighbouring Comoros islands. The second most widely spoken native language is Kibushi, a Malagasy language variety most closely related to the Sakalava dialect of Malagasy with influences from Shimaore. The vast majority of the population is Muslim.
The island was populated from neighbouring East Africa with later arrival of Arabs, who brought Islam. A sultanate was established in 1500. In the 19th century, Mayotte was conquered by Andriantsoly, former king of Iboina on Madagascar, and later by the neighbouring islands Mohéli and then Anjouan before being purchased by France in 1841.
The people of Mayotte voted to remain politically a part of France in the 1974 referendum on the independence of the Comoros. Mayotte became an overseas department on 31 March 2011 and became an outermost region of the European Union on 1 January 2014, following a 2009 referendum with an overwhelming result in favour of the department status.
Timeline[edit | edit source]
1841 - Mayotte was purchased by France and it was the only island in the archipelago that voted in a referendum in 1974 and 1976 to retain its link with France and forgo independence
2009 - Mayotte became an overseas department of France in consequence of a referendum