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Ramadan is the 9th and holiest month in the Islamic calendar and lasts 29–30 days. Muslims fast every day for its duration and most restaurants will be closed until the fast breaks at dusk. Nothing (including water and cigarettes) is supposed to pass through the lips from dawn to sunset. Non-Muslims are exempt from this, but should still refrain from eating or drinking in public as this is considered very impolite. Working hours are decreased as well in the corporate world. Exact dates of Ramadan depend on local astronomical observations and may vary somewhat from country to country. Ramadan concludes with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, which may last several days, usually three in most countries.
If you're planning to travel to Mayotte during Ramadan, consider reading Travelling during Ramadan.
Mayotte was ceded to France along with the other islands of the Comoros group in 1843. When Comoros voted for independence in the 1970s, Mayotte decided to remain a French "collective". In March 2009, the islands voted overwhelmingly (95.2%) to become France's 101st 'departement' effective in 2011. The island is 95% Muslim and many Muslim customs such as polygamy, Islamic-inspired law, and male dominance are commonplace, although all will be reversed in accordance with French law by 2011. A large amount of the island's population is composed of illegal aliens from neighboring Comoros. Despite the island's French ownership, less than half of the population understands French and very few speak French fluently.
Tropical; marine; hot, humid, rainy season during northeastern monsoon (November to May); dry season is cooler (May to November).
Generally undulating, with deep ravines and ancient volcanic peaks.
Inter Iles Air uses an SAAB-340B aircraft to link Mayotte to Anjouan and Moroni several times a week.
The primary port is Dzaoudzi. Ferry service to Anjouan and Grande Comore is sporadic and costs about the same as a flight on Inter Iles Air.
The easiest way to get around Mayotte is with bush taxis ("taxi brousse") who will take you around the island for a few euros. Passenger and car ferries operate continuously between Dzaoudzi and Mamoudzou costing under a euro roundtrip for foot passengers.
Currency is the Euro (€). Local produce (bananas, manioc, fish) is inexpensive, imported items (dairy products, manufactured products) are expensive.
- A hike (almost a climb) to the summit of Mont Choungui will offer a spectacular panorama of the island
- Makis (ring-tailed lemurs) can be found in remote regions of the island.
- Diving is mandatory. Expect spectacular sights in the world's largest lagoon.
- Sea turtles come to roost on the southern beaches.
- In August-September, humpback whales can be found with their calves in the lagoon.
Voluntary service: Volontariat Civil à l'Aide Technique (VCAT) [dead link] Conditions: you must be French or from another EU-member state or a country belonging to the European Economic Area. You must be over 18 and under 28 years old (inclusive). You must not have had your civic rights revoked by a court or have been convicted of certain offences.
Cyclones can occur during the rainy season.
Mayotte is a malaria-infested zone. Consult your doctor for anti-malaria medicine, and pile on mosquito repellent.
90% of the population is Muslim, following a very tolerant Islam. Say hello to people you will cross while hiking, always smile, and you will be respected.