Comoros is an independent state comprising a group of islands in the Indian Ocean. Located at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel, the islands lie about 290 km (about 180 mi) from Mozambique and about 320 km (about 200 mi) from Madagascar. Comoros has been a self-governing state since 1975 when three of the four islands of the Comoros archipelago broke away from French rule. The islands became a French colony following the Berlin conference of 1886-7 and remained under French political control until 1975. Three of the islands: Ngazidja, Mwali, and Nzwani, declared themselves independent from France in 1975 and became the Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoro Islands.