Mauritius officially the Republic of Mauritius (Mauritian Creole: Republik Moris; French: République de Maurice) is an island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about 900 kilometres (560 mi) east of Madagascar. In addition to the island of Mauritius, the Republic includes the islands of Cargados Carajos, Rodrigues and the Agalega Islands. Mauritius Island is part of the Mascarene Islands, with the French island of Réunion 200 km (120 mi) to the southwest and the island of Rodrigues 570 km (350 mi) to the northeast. Mauritius's area is 2040 km2; its capital city is Port Louis.
The British took control of the islands during the Napoleonic Wars, and Mauritius became independent from the UK in 1968. It is a parliamentary republic and is a member of the Southern African Development Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the African Union, La Francophonie and the Commonwealth of Nations. Mauritius has an upper middle income economy.
The main languages spoken in Mauritius are Mauritian Creole, French and English. English is the only official language but the lingua franca is Mauritian Creole and the newspapers and television programmes are usually in French. Rodriguan Creole is a minority language and is spoken in certain parts of the country only. The country is composed of several ethnicities, including Asian, African, Chinese and French. The first European explorers found no indigenous people living on the island.
The island of Mauritius is renowned for having been the only known home of the dodo. This bird was an easy prey to settlers due to its weight and inability to fly, and became extinct less than eighty years after the initial European colonization.
The island was known to Phoenician, Arab, and Malay sailors as early as the 10th century and was originally named Revis Island by the Arabs. Portuguese sailors first visited it in 1507 and established a visiting base leaving the island uninhabited. Five ships of the Dutch Second Fleet were blown off course during a cyclone while on their way to the Spice Islands and landed on the island in 1598, naming it in honor of Prince Maurice of Nassau, the Stadtholder of the Netherlands.
In 1638, the Dutch established the first permanent settlement. Because of tough climatic conditions including cyclones and the deterioration of the settlement, the Dutch abandoned the island after nearly a century in 1710. France, which already controlled the neighboring Île Bourbon (now Réunion), took control of Mauritius in 1715 and later renamed it Île de France (Isle of France). Under French rule, the island developed a prosperous economy based on sugar production.
In the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) the British set out to gain control of the island. Despite winning the Battle of Grand Port, Napoleon's only naval victory over the British, the French surrendered to a British invasion at Cap Malheureux three months later. They formally surrendered on 3 December 1810, on terms allowing settlers to keep their land and property and to use the French language and law of France in criminal and civil matters. Under British rule, the island's name reverted to the original one. Mauritius then went on to become independent in 1968. It became a republic in 1992.
In 2006, Mauritius asked to be an observing member of Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) in order to become closer to those countries.
According to the 2009 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which measures governance using a number of different variables, Mauritius' government earned the highest rank for "participation and human rights" and "sustainable economic opportunity", as well as earning the highest score in the index overall. Mauritius came second in "rule of law", and fourth in terms of "human development".
Deputy Prime Minister
Vice Prime Minister
Vice Prime Minister
Leader of the Opposition
Districts and dependencies
The island of Mauritius itself is divided into nine districts:
Mauritius also claims the following territories:
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 of the order of 5% to 6%, far above the sub-Saharan African average. Despite the rapid growth, that growth has been equitable and income equality has improved as its Gini coefficient fell from 45.7 to 38.9 between 1980 and 2006. This has been reflected in increased life expectancy, lowered infant mortality and improved infrastructure.
Estimated at 8,725.99€ for 2009 at purchasing power parity (PPP), Mauritius has the sixth-highest GDP per capita in Africa, behind Seychelles (13,611.58€ at PPP), Equatorial Guinea (11,901.84€ at PPP), Gabon (10,184.32€ at PPP), Libya (10,156.07€ at PPP) and Botswana (9,475.28€ at PPP). The economy is mainly dependent on sugarcane plantations, tourism, textiles, and services, but other sectors such as seafood processing, information technology and medical tourism are rapidly developing as well. Mauritius, Libya, and Seychelles are the only three African nations with a "high" Human Development Index rating. Réunion, as part of France, is not listed by the UN in their Human Development Index ranking.
Sugar cane is grown on about 90% of the cultivated land area and accounts for 25% of export earnings. Mauritius is a good example of a monocrop economy but since it is no more dependent only upon agriculture, using this term would not be apt. However, a record-setting drought severely damaged the sugar crop in 1999. The government's development strategy centres on foreign investment. Mauritius has attracted over 9,000 offshore entities, many aimed at commerce in India and South Africa, while investment in the banking sector alone has reached over 0.71€ billion. Economic performance during the period from 2000 through 2004 combined strong economic growth with unemployment at 7.6% in December 2004. France is the country's biggest trading partner, has close ties with the country, and provides technical assistance in various forms.
In order to provide locals with access to imports at lower prices and attract more tourists going to Singapore and Dubai, Mauritius is gearing towards becoming a duty-free island within the next four years. Duty has been eliminated for several products and decreased for more than 1850 products including clothing, food, jewelry, photographic equipment, audio visual equipment and lighting equipment. In addition, reforms aimed at attracting new business opportunities have also been implemented. However, one of the biggest impediments is the traffic movement between the towns, which is slowing the development of Mauritius. The corporate tax has recently been reduced to 15% to encourage non-resident companies to trade or invest through a permanent establishment or otherwise.
Mauritius ranks first among all countries in FDI inflows to India, with cumulative inflows amounting to 7.75€ billion. The top sectors attracting FDI inflows from Mauritius between January 2000 and December 2005 were electrical equipment, telecommunications, fuels, cement and gypsum products and services sector (financial and non-financial).
Mauritius is one country that has achieved successful economic and human development with a dual-track approach to economic liberalisation, whereby poorer sections of society have participated in its economic growth. The experience of Mauritius has been used, alongside a number of other countries that have adopted a dual-track approach, to highlight the benefits to both economic growth and human development. However, inflation and its impact on living costs remains a major issue. Between 2006 and 2008, the average rate of inflation was 9.1%; between 2007 and 2010, the Consumer Price Index, which gives an idea of the cost of products that are commonly consumed, rose from a yearly average of 103.8 points to 120.2 points.
The population estimate for the whole republic is 1,283,415. For the island of Mauritius only, as at 31 December 2010, it is 1,245,289. Mauritian society includes people from many different ethnic groups. The republic's residents are the descendants of people from India (Indo-Mauritian), continental Africa (Mauritian Creole people usually known as 'Creoles' in Mauritian Creole), France (Franco-Mauritian) and China (Sino-Mauritian), among other places.
The tables below come from the FAOSTAT database produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and was downloaded from FAOSTAT on 07/17/2011.