The archipelago was first settled by Bantu speakers who came from East Africa, Arabs and Austronesians. It then became part of the French colonial empire during the 19th century, before becoming independent in 1975. Since declaring independence, the country has experienced more than 20 coups or attempted coups, with various heads of state assassinated. Along with this constant political instability, the population of the Comoros lives with the worst income inequality of any nation, with a Gini coefficient over 60%, while also ranking in the worst quartile on the Human Development Index. As of 2008 about half the population lived below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day. The French insular region of Mayotte, which is the most prosperous territory in the Mozambique Channel, is a major destination for migrants from the independent islands.