Flag of Mauritius

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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.


Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar

Geographic coordinates:

20 17 S, 57 33 E


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

Land boundaries:

0 km


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


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

Land use:

arable land: 49.02%
permanent crops: 2.94%
other: 48.04% (2005)

Irrigated land:

220 sq km (2003)

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


1,240,827 (July 2006 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) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 30.8 years
male: 30 years
female: 31.8 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.82% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

15.43 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

6.86 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

-0.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 14.59 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 17.23 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 11.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 72.63 years
male: 68.66 years
female: 76.66 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

1.95 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.1% (2001 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

700 (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

less than 100 (2001 est.)


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% (2000 census)


Creole 80.5%, Bhojpuri 12.1%, French 3.4%, English (official; spoken by less than 1% of the population), other 3.7%, unspecified 0.3% (2000 census)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85.6%
male: 88.6%
female: 82.7% (2003 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Mauritius
conventional short form: 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; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations


18 years of age; universal

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)
elections: last held on 3 July 2005 (next to be held in 2010)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - AS 38, MSM/MMM 22, OPR 2; appointed seats - AS 4, MSM/MMM 2, OPR 2

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court

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):

$16.28 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$6.252 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

3.1% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$13,200 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 6.1%
industry: 29.9%
services: 64% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

570,000 (2005 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:

10.5% (2005 est.)

Population below poverty line:

10% (2001 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

37 (1987 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

5.6% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

21.9% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $1.377 billion
expenditures: $1.77 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2005 est.)

Public debt:

26.2% of GDP (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

sugarcane, tea, corn, potatoes, bananas, pulses; cattle, goats; fish


food processing (largely sugar milling), textiles, clothing, chemicals, metal products, transport equipment, nonelectrical machinery, tourism

Industrial production growth rate:

8% (2000 est.)

Electricity - production:

1.941 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

1.805 billion kWh (2003)

Oil - consumption:

21,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Current account balance:

$151 million (2005 est.)


$1.949 billion f.o.b. (2005 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)


$2.507 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

manufactured goods, capital equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals

Imports - partners:

South Africa 11.3%, China 9.4%, India 9.2%, France 9.2%, Bahrain 5.3%, Japan 4.1% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$1.605 billion (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$2.958 billion (2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$42 million (1997)

Currency (code):

Mauritian rupee (MUR)

Fiscal year:

1 July - 30 June

Telephones - main lines in use:

353,800 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

510,000 (2004)

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)

Television broadcast stations:

2 (plus several repeaters) (1997)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

4,954 (2005)

Internet users:

180,000 (2005)


6 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 1 (2005)


total: 2,254 km
paved: 2,254 km (including 75 km of expressways) (2003)

Merchant marine:

total: 8 ships (1000 GRT or over) 26,308 GRT/28,488 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 4, passenger/cargo 2, refrigerated cargo 2
foreign-owned: 6 (India 4, Switzerland 2) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Port Louis

Military branches:

National Police Force (includes the paramilitary Special Mobile Force or SMF and National Coast Guard)

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