"The Island Lagoon"
The most prominent characteristic of Mayotte is its vast lagoon which is separated from the sea by a barrier reef (coral reefs). This barrier reef is one of the most impressive in the world as it completely surrounds the island, leaving only a few openings. According to Mahoran legend, this is to protect the island from foreign invasions. With an average depth of 20-70m, the Mayotte lagoon is a natural aquarium being home to a remarkable diversity of animal and plant species.
Mayotte is, geologically, the oldest the island of the archipelago. Its terrain is very eroded and its highest peak, Mount Benara in Grande Terre, rises to 594 meters above sea level, the plateau of M'Tsapéré is 572 m. Mayotte is composed of several islands, the largest is Pamandzi followed by Mtsamboro. The island are surrounded by several small islands including the two separated by the lagoon. Dzaoudzi city was Capitol of Comoros during the Internal Autonomy and Capitol of Mayotte today. Since 1841, Mayotte was first French Protectorate along with the 3 sister islands of Grande Comore, Moheli and Anjouan which were officially colonized by France in 1912. In 1975, the latter voted for independence while Mayotte chose, by referendum, to remain French. Today the island is administered by the French government however it is still considered to be Comorian by the Comoros government and a majority of the Comorian population.
Petite Terre: Capitol of Mayotte, the island houses the essential architecture of the colonial period as well as the airport.
Grande Terre: Mainland is the largest of two main islands. It is now the center of the development of Mayotte. Mamoudzou, the capital monopolizes visitors upon landing barge.