Facts about Mauritius

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MauritiusAlthough known to Arab and Malay sailors as early as the 10th century, Mauritius was first explored by the Portuguese in the 16th century and subsequently settled by the Dutch - who named it in honor of Prince Maurits van NASSAU - in the 17th century. The French assumed control in 1715, developing the island into an important naval base overseeing Indian Ocean trade, and establishing a plantation economy of sugar cane. The British captured the island in 1810, during the Napoleonic Wars. Mauritius remained a strategically important British naval base, and later an air station, playing an important role during World War II for anti-submarine and convoy operations, as well as the collection of signals intelligence. Independence from the UK was attained in 1968. A stable democracy with regular free elections and a positive human rights record, the country has attracted considerable foreign investment and has earned one of Africa's highest per capita incomes. Recent poor weather, declining sugar prices, and declining textile and apparel production, have slowed economic growth, leading to some protests over standards of living in the Creole community.

Geography of Mauritius

Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar
20 17 S, 57 33 E
total: 2,040 sq km
note: includes Agalega Islands, Cargados Carajos Shoals (Saint Brandon), and Rodrigues
water: 10 sq km
land: 2,030 sq km
Area comparative:
almost 11 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
177 km
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200 NM or to the edge of the continental margin
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
tropical, modified by southeast trade winds; warm, dry winter (May to November); hot, wet, humid summer (November to May)
small coastal plain rising to discontinuous mountains encircling central plateau
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Piton 828 m
Natural resources:
arable land, fish
Natural hazards:
cyclones (November to April); almost completely surrounded by reefs that may pose maritime hazards
Environment current issues:
water pollution, degradation of coral reefs
Geography - note:
the main island, from which the country derives its name, is of volcanic origin and is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs

Population of Mauritius

1,274,189 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 23.9% (male 149,486/female 147,621)
15-64 years: 69.5% (male 430,288/female 431,753)
65 years and over: 6.6% (male 31,939/female 49,740)
Median age:
30.8 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
14.59 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.63 years
male: 68.66 years
female: 76.66 years
Fertility rate:
1.95 children born/woman
noun: Mauritian(s)
adjective: Mauritian
Ethnic groups:
Indo-Mauritian 68%, Creole 27%, Sino-Mauritian 3%, Franco-Mauritian 2%
Hindu 48%, Roman Catholic 23.6%, other Christian 8.6%, Muslim 16.6%, other 2.5%, unspecified 0.3%, none 0.4%
English (official), Creole, French (official), Hindi, Urdu, Hakka, Bhojpuri
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85.6%
male: 88.6%
female: 82.7% 


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Mauritius
Government type:
parliamentary democracy
Port Louis
Administrative divisions:
9 districts and 3 dependencies*; Agalega Islands*, Black River, Cargados Carajos Shoals*, Flacq, Grand Port, Moka, Pamplemousses, Plaines Wilhems, Port Louis, Riviere du Rempart, Rodrigues*, Savanne
12 March 1968 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 12 March (1968)
12 March 1968; amended 12 March 1992
Legal system:
based on French civil law system with elements of English common law in certain areas
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Sir Anerood JUGNAUTH (since 7 October 2003); Vice President Abdool Raouf BUNDHUN (since 25 February 2002)
head of government: Prime Minister Navinchandra RAMGOOLAM (since 5 July 2005)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister
elections: president and vice president elected by the National Assembly for five-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held 19 September 2008 (next to be held in 2013); prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president, responsible to the National Assembly.
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly (70 seats; 62 elected by popular vote, 8 appointed by the election commission to give representation to various ethnic minorities; members serve five-year terms).
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court
Political parties and leaders:
Alliance Sociale or AS; Hizbullah [Cehl Mohamed FAKEEMEEAH]; Mauritian Labor Party or MLP [Navinchandra RAMGOOLAM]; Mauritian Militant Movement or MMM [Paul BERENGER] - in coalition with MSM; Mauritian Social Democrat Party or PMSD [Charles Xavier-Luc DUVAL]; Militant Socialist Movement or MSM [Pravind JUGNAUTH] - governing party; Rodrigues Movement or MR [Joseph (Nicholas) Von MALLY]; Rodrigues Peoples Organization or OPR [Serge CLAIR]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
various labor unions


Since independence in 1968, Mauritius has developed from a low-income, agriculturally based economy to a middle-income diversified economy with growing industrial, financial, and tourist sectors. For most of the period, annual growth has been in the order of 5% to 6%. This remarkable achievement has been reflected in more equitable income distribution, increased life expectancy, lowered infant mortality, and a much-improved infrastructure. The economy rests on sugar, tourism, textiles and apparel, and financial services, and is expanding into fish processing, information and communications technology, and hospitality and property development. Sugarcane is grown on about 90% of the cultivated land area and accounts for 15% of export earnings. The government's development strategy centers on creating vertical and horizontal clusters of development in these sectors. Mauritius has attracted more than 32,000 offshore entities, many aimed at commerce in India, South Africa, and China. Investment in the banking sector alone has reached over $1 billion. Mauritius, with its strong textile sector, has been well poised to take advantage of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

$14.27 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 5.9%
industry: 29.8%
services: 64.3%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
Labor force - by occupation:
construction and industry 36%, services 24%, agriculture and fishing 14%, trade, restaurants, hotels 16%, transportation and communication 7%, finance 3% 
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 90.8%
hydro: 9.2%
other: 0% 
food processing (largely sugar milling), textiles, clothing; chemicals, metal products, transport equipment, nonelectrical machinery; tourism
sugarcane, tea, corn, potatoes, bananas, pulses; cattle, goats; fish
clothing and textiles, sugar, cut flowers, molasses
Export partners:
UK 31.9%, France 20.2%, US 11.4%, Madagascar 6.3%, Italy 5.4% 
manufactured goods, capital equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals
Import partners:
France 11.4%, South Africa 10.8%, India 8.8%, China 5.7%, Finland 5.5%, Bahrain 5.1%, Germany 4.9%
Mauritian rupee (MUR)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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