About 70% of the 10,000 babies born every year in the island's only maternity hospital in the main town of Mamoudzou are born to illegal migrants, mainly from the Comoran islands, according to official statistics.
It is said to be one of France's busiest - to the point that the government is considering declaring the hospital as non-French territory so that children born there do not automatically qualify for French citizenship.
"The truth is we're suffocating in Mayotte. We can't access our hospitals anymore. We have to go to Reunion Island or elsewhere for treatment," Marianne, a protester, told the AFP news agency.
"We can't give birth in Mayotte anymore because there are too many deliveries. Our safety is at stake."
Why is Mayotte French?
Mayotte is an island of 250,000 people that is part of the Comoros archipelago off the coast of Africa.
The Comoros was a French colony until 1975 when it declared independence.
But Mayotte opted to remain part of France, voting overwhelmingly in 2009 in favour of becoming an integral part of France, mainly because of the economic benefits associated with becoming French.
In 2011, it became the 101st French department, in accordance with the 2009 referendum.
It is a predominantly Muslim country, and although French is the official language, only about half of the population can read or write it.
Fourteenth Ordinary Session
26 – 30 January 2009
Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA
DECISION ON THE COMORIAN ISLAND
The Executive Council:
1. TAKES NOTE of the Report of the Government of the Union of the Comoros on
the situation in the Comorian Island of Mayotte;
2. RECALLS all the previous resolutions of the Organization of African Unity (OAU)
on the Comorian Island of Mayotte and RECALLS ALSO that the Comorian
people, at the referendum of 22 December 1974, expressed their will for
independence in the political unity and the territorial integrity of the archipelago of
3. CONSIDERS that the referendums organized on 8 February 1976 and 11 April
1976 by the former colonial power in the Comorian Island of Mayotte constitute a
serious violation of the territorial integrity of the Comoros and
CONSIDERS that the inclusion of the Comorian Island of Mayotte in the
Constitution of the French Republic is contrary to international law;
4. CONDEMNS the organization on 29 March 2009 of a referendum on the
departmentalise of the Comorian Island of Mayotte and DEMANDS an immediate
end to that process;
5. REAFFIRMS that the Comorian Island of Mayotte belongs to the Union of the
6. REQUESTS for the immediate establishment of a dialogue between the Union of
the Comoros and France in order to determine together the modalities for the
return of Mayotte to the Union of the Comoros;
7. DECIDES to reactivate the Ad-Hoc Committee of Seven on the Comorian Island