Located in the north of the Mozambique Channel, between Africa and Madagascar, the Comoros have hidden their surf potential for a long time, until a recent expedition found waves on Anjouan. The volcanic archipelago is made up of four islands; Grande Comoros, Anjouan and Mohéli form the independent Comoros Union, while Mayotte remains a French territory. Tourism is undeveloped thanks to political instability (18 coups in 24yrs, often led by the well-known mercenary Bob Dénard) and a lack of infrastructure. With a mix of African, Malagasy, Arab and Persian origins, it's hard to make a living for most Comorians in one of the poorest countries in the world, where poverty creates health problems like malaria and cholera. Grande Comoros, the biggest island of the archipelago and overshadowed by the 2361m (7746ft) peak of the Karthala volcano, holds a couple of low tide beachbreaks north of Moroni (Itzandra) sprinkled with a few coral heads. Also check the east coast beaches around Chomoni and the northern reefs near the salted lake. The little reef-fringed island of Mohéli has waves off Fomboni beach, but Anjouan has the best potential for the surf with a variety of waves and good exposure to the different swells. The island was in turmoil when they proclaimed independence from the Union of Comoros, but the separatists were overthrown by a military operation in early 2008. The superb tropical landscape of the island provides the perfect garden for producing ylang-ylang, a delicate yellow flower used for essential oils and fragrances.