The Outermost Regions of the EU are: (France), Martinique (France), St Martin (France), French Guiana (France), La Réunion (France), Canary Islands (Spain), Azores (Portugal), Madeira (Portugal) and (from early 2014) Mayotte (France). Mayotte's defense is provided by the Mayotte Foreign Legion Detachment (DLEM). It is surrounded by coral reefs and the ancient Arab sailors whose ships often came to grief on its shores named it the "Island of Death".
The overseas départment of Mayotte is home to the 270-strong Détachement de Légion étrangère de Mayotte (Foreign Legion Detachment in Mayotte, or DLEM). The smallest unit in the Foreign Legion, the DLEM is able to act as a ready reaction force, and contributes to regional security by conducting maritime surveillance in the Mozambique Channel, humanitarian assistance operations, and holding training exercises with the armed forces of neighboring countries, particularly Madagascar.
The island officially became the 101st department of France on March 31, 2011, following a referendum in which 95% of Mahorans chose to join France and break away from the Comoros. Mayotte’s significance to the French Government increased following the popular vote in 2009 to determine whether the island would become a fully-fledged overseas départment of France or retain the slightly lesser status as a collectivité d’outre-mer, or “overseas collectivity”. The majority of Mahorais – over 95 percent – voted in favor and, as such, Mayotte became the 101st French départment, comparable to the départments of metropolitan France.
Located between Africa and Madagascar, Mayotte has an abundance of endemic fauna and flora. Baobabs and tulip trees, from Gabon and Takamakas, are spread throughout both the humid and dry forests. THere is also ylang-ylang and magnificent wild orchids, of which nearly 50 species, including the vanilla plant, exist on Mayotte. The wild fauna, diverse and permanent, is quite surprising: the maki, a type of lemur, is found only on Mayotte. There’s also the roussette (flying fox), a large bat that flies around both day and night. To discover this rich wildlife, a 100 km hiking trail runs around the island, allowing tourists to admire the stunning views, discover a fascinating geological history, immerse themselves in the Mahori nature, and mingle with the locals.
One of Mayotte's greatest assets is its coral reef, bordering one of the largest enclosed lagoons in the world. The double barrier phenomenon is a mystery of the Mayotte lagoon. Sheltered from the ocean's fury, the lagoon is a haven of peace, housing a great variety of flora and fauna. A real natural aquarium in which colorful fish live side by side with large sea mammals, the lagoon offers an exceptional view of underwater life. Mayotte is also home to one of nature's most beautiful sights: humpback whales teaching their newborns. Several species of dolphins can be found inside and outside the lagoon.
Mayotte is also an excellent site for observing sea turtles. Swimming with them, or watching them laying their eggs is among the more unique experiences possible on the lagoon island. A multi-faceted area, Mayotte has inherited a mosaic of cultures: African, Persian, Asian, Madagascan, European and Arabic. This crossing of several different worlds and civilizations has forged a rich and authentic culture. Thus, there are a multitude of religious, cultural, folk and sporting events that take place annually on Mayotte.
Unlike other islands on the Comoros Archipelago, which claimed their independence bade in the 1960s, Mayotte affirmed its attachment to France on several occasions. In 1974, on the eve of the independence of the Comoros (obtained in 1975), over 60% of the population refused a separation from mainland France. It confirmed this decision during the self-determination referendum in 1976, with over 99.4% approving to continue as an Overseas Territory within the French State.
In 2001, Mayotte became a departmental territory and on 29 March 2009, 95.2% of the population voted in favor of changing the status of Mayotte to an Overseas Department and Region (DROM). On 31 March 2011, the departmental territory of Mayotte became the 101st French department (5th department in the Overseas Territories) and now exercises the powers devolved to Overseas Departments and Regions.
In neighbouring Comoros, the step is highly controversial. The government of Comoros since independence has claimed that Mayotte is part of the Comoran territory, and it is given right by the African Union and partially by the UN. In a strong-worded statement, outgoing Comoran President Abdallah Sambi spoke of the "French occupation of Mayotte," announcing that Comoros would take legal steps to prove the island was part of its territory. Government would call for international arbitration or an international court decision to seek the return of its territory, he announced.
In addition to the review of the civil status and the justice reform, this institutional change was combined with a gradual alignment of the minimum wage and social benefits with levels in mainland France, a tax reform, and the creation of a Mayotte economic, social and cultural development fund (FMDESC}, which has replaced the current Mayotte development fund.
As planned following the process to change to department status, France requested the accession of Mayotte, which was an Overseas Country and Territory (OCT), to the status of Outermost Region (OMR). Consequently, on 11 July 2012, the European Council, gathering the 27 Heads of Government of member countries, voted In favour of this accession from 2014 onwards.
Urban collective taxis are the only public transport. Outside the capital, the "bush taxis" apply a tariff according to the distance. A service of barges ensures the link between Grande-Terre and Petite-Terre: one is reserved for cars, another one for pedestrians and motorcycles. Payment for the round trip transportation is made at the ferry terminal in Mamoudzou, Grande-Terre. The crossing takes about 15 minutes.
In Mayotte, the bites of some mosquitoes can transmit malaria, dengue and chikungunya. It is therefore recommended to comply with prevention and control advice by local health authorities (protection by any means against mosquito bites: repellents, impregnated clothing, insecticide dispensers, coils, mosquito nets, etc.).
The Indian Ocean island of Mayotte has been a department of France since 2011, but locals feel abandoned by the country's central authorities. After more than two weeks of general strikes, which have often turned into riots, by June 2016 Mayotte was at a dead end, faced with illegal immigration, crime, unemployment and poverty. Despite the French prime minister announcing a series of measures at the start of this month, locals said the island is on the verge of collapse.
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