One of the world's poorest countries, Comoros is made up of three islands that have inadequate transportation links, a young and rapidly increasing population, and few natural resources. The low educational level of the labor force contributes to a subsistence level of economic activity, high unemployment, and a heavy dependence on foreign grants and technical assistance.
Agriculture, including fishing, hunting, and forestry, contributes 50% to GDP, employs 80% of the labour force, and provides most of the exports. Export income is heavily reliant on the three main crops of vanilla, cloves, and ylang-ylang; and Comoros' export earnings are easily disrupted by disasters such as fires. The country is not self-sufficient in food production; rice, the main staple, accounts for the bulk of imports.
Political problems have inhibited growth, which averaged only about 1% in 2006-09 but more than 2% per year in 2010-12. Remittances from 150,000 Comorans abroad help supplement GDP.
In September 2009 the IMF approved Comoros for a three-year $21 million loan, but the government has struggled to meet program targets, such as restricting spending on wages, strengthening domestic revenue collection, and moving forward on structural reforms. In December 2012, IMF and the World Bank's International Development Association supported $176 million in debt relief for Comoros, resulting in a 59% reduction of its future external debt service over a period of 40 years. (Source: World Factbook, 2013)