Introduction Mauritius

Background: Discovered by the Portuguese in 1505, Mauritius was subsequently held by the Dutch, French, and British before independence 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 and declining sugar prices have slowed economic growth, leading to some protests over standards of living in the Creole community.

Geography Mauritius
Location: Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar
Geographic coordinates: 20 17 S, 57 33 E
Map references: Political Map of the World
Area: total: 2,040 sq km
land: 2,030 sq km
water: 10 sq km
note: includes Agalega Islands, Cargados Carajos Shoals (Saint Brandon), and Rodrigues
Area – comparative: almost 11 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 177 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate: tropical, modified by southeast trade winds; warm, dry winter (May to November); hot, wet, humid summer (November to May)
Terrain: 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
Land use: arable land: 49.26%
permanent crops: 2.96%
other: 47.78% (2001)
Irrigated land: 200 sq km (2000 est.)
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
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: the main island, from which the country derives its name, is of volcanic origin and is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs
People Mauritius
Population: 1,230,602 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 24.4% (male 151,043/female 148,847)
15-64 years: 69.1% (male 424,472/female 425,974)
65 years and over: 6.5% (male 31,506/female 48,760) (2005 est.)
Median age: total: 30.5 years
male: 29.65 years
female: 31.46 years (2005 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.84% (2005 est.)
Birth rate: 15.62 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate: 6.83 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.41 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.65 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2005 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 15.03 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 17.74 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 12.27 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.38 years
male: 68.4 years
female: 76.41 years (2005 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.96 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 700 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: less than 100 (2001 est.)
Nationality: noun: Mauritian(s)
adjective: Mauritian
Ethnic groups: Indo-Mauritian 68%, Creole 27%, Sino-Mauritian 3%, Franco-Mauritian 2%
Religions: Hindu 48%, Roman Catholic 23.6%, other Christian 8.6%, Muslim 16.6%, other 2.5%, unspecified 0.3%, none 0.4% (2000 census)
Languages: Creole 80.5%, Bhojpuri 12.1%, French 3.4% (official), other 3.7%, unspecified 0.3% (2000 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85.6%
male: 88.6%
female: 82.7% (2003 est.)
Government Mauritius
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Mauritius
conventional short form: Mauritius
Government type: parliamentary democracy
Capital: 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
Independence: 12 March 1968 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 12 March (1968)
Constitution: 12 March 1968; amended 12 March 1992
Legal system: based on French civil law system with elements of English common law in certain areas
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Sir Anerood JUGNAUTH (since 7 October 2003) and Vice President Abdool Raouf BUNDHUN (since 25 February 2002)
head of government: Prime Minister Paul BERENGER (since 30 September 2003)
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; election last held 25 February 2002 (next to be held NA 2007); prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president, responsible to the National Assembly
election results: Karl OFFMANN elected president and Raouf BUNDHUN elected vice president; percent of vote by the National Assembly – NA%; note – Karl OFFMANN stepped down on 30 September 2003
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly (66 seats; 62 elected by popular vote, 4 appointed by the election commission from the losing political parties to give representation to various ethnic minorities; members serve five-year terms)
elections: last held on 11 September 2000 (next to be held September 2005)
election results: percent of vote by party – MSM/MMM 52.3%, MLP/PMSD 36.9%, OPR 10.8%; seats by party – MSM/MMM 54, MLP/PMSD 6, OPR 2
Judicial branch: Supreme Court
Political parties and leaders: 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
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Usha JEETAH
chancery: 4301 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 441, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 244-1491, 1492
FAX: [1] (202) 966-0983
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador John PRICE
embassy: 4th Floor, Rogers House, John Kennedy Street, Port Louis
mailing address: international mail: P. O. Box 544, Port Louis; US mail: American Embassy, Port Louis, Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-2450
telephone: [230] 202-4400
FAX: [230] 208-9534
Flag description: four equal horizontal bands of red (top), blue, yellow, and green
Economy Mauritius
Economy – overview: 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. Sugarcane is grown on about 90% of the cultivated land area and accounts for 25% of export earnings. The government’s development strategy centers on expanding local financial institutions and building a domestic information telecommunications industry. Mauritius has attracted more than 9,000 offshore entities, many aimed at commerce in India and South Africa, and 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).
GDP (purchasing power parity): $15.68 billion (2004 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 4.7% (2004 est.)
GDP – per capita: purchasing power parity – $12,800 (2004 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 7.6%
industry: 30%
services: 62.4% (2004 est.)
Labor force: 560,000 (2004 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture and fishing 14%, construction and industry 36%, transportation and communication 7%, trade, restaurants, hotels 16%, finance 3%, other services 24% (1995)
Unemployment rate: 10.8% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line: 10% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 37 (1987 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 4.5% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 22.5% of GDP (2004 est.)
Budget: revenues: $1.231 billion
expenditures: $1.582 billion, including capital expenditures of NA (2004 est.)
Public debt: 29.2% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture – products: sugarcane, tea, corn, potatoes, bananas, pulses; cattle, goats; fish
Industries: food processing (largely sugar milling), textiles, clothing; chemicals, metal products, transport equipment, nonelectrical machinery; tourism
Industrial production growth rate: 8% (2000 est.)
Electricity – production: 1.836 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 90.8%
hydro: 9.2%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity – consumption: 1.707 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity – exports: 0 kWh (2002)
Electricity – imports: 0 kWh (2002)
Oil – production: 0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil – consumption: 21,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil – exports: NA
Oil – imports: NA
Current account balance: $284.1 million (2004 est.)
Exports: $2.012 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports – commodities: clothing and textiles, sugar, cut flowers, molasses
Exports – partners: UK 33.1%, France 20.4%, US 14.8%, Madagascar 5.1%, Italy 4.1% (2004)
Imports: $2.245 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports – commodities: manufactured goods, capital equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals
Imports – partners: South Africa 11.3%, China 9.4%, India 9.3%, France 9.2%, Bahrain 5.3%, Japan 4.1% (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $1.676 billion (2004 est.)
Debt – external: $1.78 billion (2004 est.)
Economic aid – recipient: $42 million (1997)
Currency (code): Mauritian rupee (MUR)
Currency code: MUR
Exchange rates: Mauritian rupees per US dollar – 27.499 (2004), 27.902 (2003), 29.962 (2002), 29.129 (2001), 26.25 (2000)
Fiscal year: 1 July – 30 June
Communications Mauritius
Telephones – main lines in use: 348,200 (2003)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 462,400 (2003)
Telephone system: general assessment: small system with good service
domestic: primarily microwave radio relay trunk system
international: country code – 230; satellite earth station – 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean); new microwave link to Reunion; HF radiotelephone links to several countries; fiber optic submarine cable (SAT-3/WASC/SAFE) provides connectivity to Europe and Asia
Radio broadcast stations: AM 4, FM 9, shortwave 0 (2002)
Radios: 420,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 2 (plus several repeaters) (1997)
Televisions: 258,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .mu
Internet hosts: 3,985 (2003)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 2 (2000)
Internet users: 150,000 (2003)
Transportation Mauritius
Highways: total: 2,000 km
paved: 1,960 km (including 60 km of expressways)
unpaved: 40 km (2002)
Ports and harbors: Port Louis
Merchant marine: total: 8 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 22,946 GRT/27,102 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 4, passenger/cargo 2, refrigerated cargo 2
foreign-owned: 6 (India 4, Switzerland 2) (2005)
Airports: 6 (2004 est.)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2004 est.)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2004 est.)
Military Mauritius
Military branches: National Police Force (includes the paramilitary Special Mobile Force or SMF and National Coast Guard)
Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 313,271 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 248,659 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures – dollar figure: $12.5 million (2004)
Military expenditures – percent of GDP: 0.2% (2004)
Transnational Issues Mauritius
Disputes – international: Mauritius claims the Chagos Archipelago (UK-administered British Indian Ocean Territory), and its former inhabitants, who reside chiefly in Mauritius, were granted UK citizenship but no right to patriation in the UK; claims French-administered Tromelin Island
Illicit drugs: minor consumer and transshipment point for heroin from South Asia; small amounts of cannabis produced and consumed locally; significant offshore financial industry creates potential for money laundering, but corruption levels are relatively low and the government appears generally to be committed to regulating its banking industry

Disclaimer. Credit and sources:
About, Inc., A part of The New York Times Company
CIA World Factsbook;