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  Introduction Back To Top

Although 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 Back To Top

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.61 cu km/yr (25%/14%/60%)
per capita: 488 cu m/yr (2000)

Total renewable water resources:
2.2 cu km (2001)

Land boundaries:
0 km

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, 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

tropical, modified by southeast trade winds; warm, dry winter (May to November); hot, wet, humid summer (November to May)

Map references:
Political Map of the World

Geographic coordinates:
20 17 S, 57 33 E

Natural resources:
arable land, fish

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Piton 828 m

small coastal plain rising to discontinuous mountains encircling central plateau

Geography - note:
the main island, from which the country derives its name, is of volcanic origin and is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs; home of the dodo, a large flightless bird related to pigeons, driven to extinction by the end of the 17th century through a combination of hunting and the introduction of predatory species

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

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

177 km

Area - comparative:
almost 11 times the size of Washington, DC

Irrigated land:
220 sq km (2003)

Environment - current issues:
water pollution, degradation of coral reefs

Maritime claims:
measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin

Natural hazards:
cyclones (November to April); almost completely surrounded by reefs that may pose maritime hazards

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

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
1.83 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.67 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.1% (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
700 (2001 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.75 years
male: 70.28 years
female: 77.4 years (2008 est.)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 84.4%
male: 88.4%
female: 80.5% (2000 census)

Net migration rate:
-0.09 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:
Indo-Mauritian 68%, Creole 27%, Sino-Mauritian 3%, Franco-Mauritian 2%

Median age:
total: 31.5 years
male: 30.6 years
female: 32.3 years (2008 est.)

1,274,189 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
3.9% of GDP (2006)

Population growth rate:
0.8% (2008 est.)

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)

Death rate:
6.55 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 12.56 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 14.94 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 10.06 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 100 (2001 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 14 years
male: 14 years
female: 13 years (2005)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 23% (male 148,573/female 143,859)
15-64 years: 70.1% (male 443,968/female 449,670)
65 years and over: 6.9% (male 35,269/female 52,850) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
14.64 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Hindu 48%, Roman Catholic 23.6%, Muslim 16.6%, other Christian 8.6%, other 2.5%, unspecified 0.3%, none 0.4% (2000 census)

noun: Mauritian(s)
adjective: Mauritian

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Cesar CABRERA
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, US Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-2450
telephone: [230] 202-4400
FAX: [230] 208-9534

National holiday:
Independence Day, 12 March (1968)

18 years of age; universal

Government type:
parliamentary democracy

Political pressure groups and leaders:
other: various labor unions

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Keerteecoomar RUHEE
chancery: 4301 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 441, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 244-1491, 1492
FAX: [1] (202) 966-0983

International organization participation:

Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly (70 seats; 62 members elected by popular vote, 8 appointed by the election commission to give representation to various ethnic minorities; to 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

Legal system:
based on French civil law system with elements of English common law in certain areas; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations

Flag description:
four equal horizontal bands of red (top), blue, yellow, and green

12 March 1968 (from UK)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: Republic of Mauritius
conventional short form: Mauritius
local long form: Republic of Mauritius
local short form: Mauritius

Political parties and leaders:
Alliance Sociale or AS [Navinchandra RAMGOOLAM] (governing coalition - includes MLD, MMSM, MR, MSD, PMXD); Mauritian Labor Party or MLP [Navinchandra RAMGOOLAM]; Mauritian Militant Movement or MMM [Paul BERENGER]; Mauritian Socialist Militant Movement or MMSM [Madan DULLOO]; Militant Socialist Movement or MSM [Pravind JUGNAUTH]; Mouvement Republicain or MR [Jayarama VALAYDEN]; Parti Mauricien Xavier Duval or PMXD [Xavier Luc DUVAL]; Rodrigues Movement or MR [Joseph (Nicholas) Von MALLY]; Rodrigues Peoples Organization or OPR [Serge CLAIR]

name: Port Louis
geographic coordinates: 20 09 S, 57 29 E
time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

12 March 1968; amended 12 March 1992

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
election results: Sir Anerood JUGNAUTH reelected president by unanimous vote; percent of vote by the National Assembly - NA%

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

Judicial branch:
Supreme Court

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
UK 35.1%, France 14.4%, US 7.7%, Madagascar 6.3%, Italy 5.8% (2007)

Electricity - consumption:
2.058 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Current account balance:
-$982 million (2008 est.)

Debt - external:
$2.55 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Unemployment rate:
8% (2008 est.)

Oil - exports:
0 bbl/day (2006)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$12,400 (2008 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):
27.1% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$8.582 billion (31 December 2007)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$15.75 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$8.128 billion (2008 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:
39 (2006 est.)

Exchange rates:
Mauritian rupees (MUR) per US dollar - 27.973 (2008 est.), 31.798 (2007), 31.656 (2006), 29.496 (2005), 27.499 (2004)

GDP - real growth rate:
5.8% (2008 est.)

Stock of money:
$1.673 billion (31 December 2007)

Labor force:
584,000 (2008 est.)

Imports - partners:
India 21.2%, China 11.4%, France 10.7%, South Africa 7.4% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
10.1% (2008 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 4.5%
industry: 24.9%
services: 70.6% (2008 est.)

Oil - imports:
23,650 bbl/day (2006)

$2.36 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
Mauritian rupee (MUR)

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. 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).

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:
manufactured goods, capital equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals

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

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:
8% (2006 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
21.87% (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:
$6.759 billion (31 December 2007)

Electricity - production:
2.321 billion kWh (2007 est.)

$4.503 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture and fishing 9%, construction and industry 30%, transportation and communication 7%, trade, restaurants, hotels 22%, finance 6%, other services 25% (2007)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$1.909 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Oil - consumption:
22,450 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:

Public debt:
57.2% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$5.666 billion (31 December 2007)

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Exports - commodities:
clothing and textiles, sugar, cut flowers, molasses, fish

Economic aid - recipient:
$31.93 million (2005)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 90.8%
hydro: 9.2%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

revenues: $1.866 billion
expenditures: $2.243 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2008 est.)

Fiscal year:
1 July - 30 June

Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
340,000 (2007)

Telephones - main lines in use:
357,300 (2006)

258,000 (1997)

Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 4, FM 9, shortwave 0 (2001)

420,000 (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
936,000 (2007)

Television broadcast stations:
2 (plus several repeaters) (1997)

Telephone system:
general assessment: small system with good service
domestic: monopoly over fixed-line services terminated in 2005; fixed-line teledensity roughly 30 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular services launched in 1989 with teledensity in 2007 reaching 75 per 100 persons
international: country code - 230; landing point for the SAFE submarine cable that provides links to Asia and South Africa where it connects to the SAT-3/WASC submarine cable that provides further links to parts of East Africa, and Europe; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean); new microwave link to Reunion; HF radiotelephone links to several countries

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
2 (2000)

Internet hosts:
9,609 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

Ports and terminals:
Port Louis

Merchant marine:
total: 3
by type: passenger/cargo 2, refrigerated cargo 1 (2008)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2007)

total: 2,028 km
paved: 2,028 km (includes 75 km of expressways) (2007)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 1 (2007)

5 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 341,018 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
no regular military forces; National Police Force, Special Mobile Force, National Coast Guard (2008)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 11,089
female: 10,843 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
0.3% of GDP (2006 est.)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:
Mauritius claims the Chagos Archipelago (UK-administered British Indian Ocean Territory), and its former inhabitants, who reside chiefly in Mauritius; claims French-administered Tromelin Island

Illicit drugs:
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

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