MAURITIUS

MARCH 25, 2009 BY RANG WHAM
   Introduction    Mauritius Top of Page
Background:
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    Mauritius Top of Page
Location:
Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar
Geographic coordinates:
20 17 S, 57 33 E
Map references:
Africa
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:

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
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: 49.02%
permanent crops: 2.94%
other: 48.04% (2005)
Irrigated land:
220 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
2.2 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.61 cu km/yr (25%/14%/60%)
per capita: 488 cu m/yr (2000)
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: 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
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
   People    Mauritius Top of Page
Population:
1,294,104 (July 2010 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 22.2% (male 146,009/female 140,759)
15-64 years: 70.6% (male 453,780/female 459,739)
65 years and over: 7.2% (male 37,518/female 56,299) (2010 est.)
Median age:
total: 32.3 years
male: 31.4 years
female: 33.2 years (2010 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.751% (2010 est.)
Birth rate:
14.17 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
Death rate:
6.63 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
Net migration rate:
-0.03 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
Urbanization:
urban population: 42% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 0.9% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 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 (2010 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 11.85 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 14.09 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 9.49 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 74.25 years
male: 70.77 years
female: 77.89 years (2010 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.8 children born/woman (2010 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
1.7% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
13,000 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer 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%, Muslim 16.6%, other Christian 8.6%, other 2.5%, unspecified 0.3%, none 0.4% (2000 census)
Languages:
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)
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 84.4%
male: 88.4%
female: 80.5% (2000 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 14 years
male: 14 years
female: 13 years (2005)
Education expenditures:
3.9% of GDP (2006)
   Government    Mauritius Top of Page
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Mauritius
conventional short form: Mauritius
local long form: Republic of Mauritius
local short form: Mauritius
Government type:
parliamentary democracy
Capital:
name: Port Louis
geographic coordinates: 20 09 S, 57 29 E
time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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 the 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; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Sir Anerood JUGNAUTH (since 7 October 2003); Vice President Angidi Veeriah CHETTIAR (since 24 August 2007)
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
(For more information visit the World Leaders website )
elections: president and vice president elected by the National Assembly for five-year terms (eligible for a second term); elections last held on 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%
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; members to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held on 5 May 2010 (next to be held in 2015)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - AF 41, MMM 18, MR 2, MSF 1; appointed seats - to be assigned 8
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court
Political parties and leaders:
Alliance of the Future or AF [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 Militant Socialist Movement or MMSM [Pravind JUGNAUTH]; Mauritian Socialist Militant Movement or MSMM [Madan DULLOO]; Mauritian Solidarity Front [Cehl FAKEERMEEAH]; 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]
Political pressure groups and leaders:

other: various labor unions
International organization participation:
ACP, AfDB, AOSIS, AU, C, COMESA, CPLP (associate), FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, InOC, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, OIF, OPCW, PCA, SAARC (observer), SADC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Joyker NAYECK
chancery: 4301 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 441, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 244-1491 through 1492
FAX: [1] (202) 966-0983
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Mary Jo WILLS
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
Flag description:
four equal horizontal bands of red (top), blue, yellow, and green; red represents the blood shed for independence, blue the Indian Ocean surrounding the island, yellow has been interpreted as the new light of independence, golden sunshine, or the bright future, and green can symbolize either agriculture or the lush vegetation of the island
National anthem:

name: "Motherland"
lyrics/music: Jean Georges PROSPER/Philippe GENTIL
note: adopted 1968
   Economy    Mauritius Top of Page
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). In 2009, GDP grew 2.1%.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$15.9 billion (2009 est.)
$15.58 billion (2008 est.)
$14.82 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$9.264 billion (2009 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
2.1% (2009 est.)
5.1% (2008 est.)
5.5% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$12,400 (2009 est.)
$12,200 (2008 est.)
$11,700 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 4.7%
industry: 24.9%
services: 70.5% (2009 est.)
Labor force:
594,000 (2009 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)
Unemployment rate:
7.8% (2009 est.) 7.2% (2008 est.)
Population below poverty line:
8% (2006 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
39 (2006 est.) 37 (1987 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
23.3% of GDP (2009 est.)
Budget:
revenues: $1.857 billion
expenditures: $2.19 billion (2009 est.)
Public debt:
58.3% of GDP (2009 est.) 56.5% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
3.4% (2009 est.) 9.7% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate:
NA%
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
21.54% (31 December 2008) 21.87% (31 December 2007)
Stock of narrow money:
$1.68 billion (31 December 2008) $1.673 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of broad money:
$6.914 billion (31 December 2008) $6.759 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit:
$9.323 billion (31 December 2008) $8.582 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$3.443 billion (31 December 2008) $5.666 billion (31 December 2007) $3.598 billion (31 December 2006)
Agriculture - products:
sugarcane, tea, corn, potatoes, bananas, pulses; cattle, goats; fish
Industries:
food processing (largely sugar milling), textiles, clothing, mining, chemicals, metal products, transport equipment, nonelectrical machinery, tourism
Industrial production growth rate:
2% (2009 est.)
Electricity - production:
2.321 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - consumption:
2.158 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption:
23,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports:
22,200 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
Current account balance:
$-868 million (2009 est.) $-972.8 million (2008 est.)
Exports:
$2.055 billion (2009 est.) $2.4 billion (2008 est.)
Exports - commodities:
clothing and textiles, sugar, cut flowers, molasses, fish
Exports - partners:
UK 30.8%, France 15.2%, US 8.6%, Italy 6.6%, Belgium 5.3%, UAE 5.1%, Madagascar 4.1% (2008)
Imports:
$3.552 billion (2009 est.) $4.399 billion (2008 est.)
Imports - commodities:
manufactured goods, capital equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals
Imports - partners:
India 23.8%, France 11.4%, South Africa 9.6%, China 7.9% (2008)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$1.428 billion (31 December 2009 est.) $1.785 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt - external:
$4.567 billion (31 December 2009 est.) $5.077 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$NA
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$NA
Exchange rates:
Mauritian rupees (MUR) per US dollar - 32.624 (2009), 27.973 (2008), 31.798 (2007), 31.656 (2006), 29.496 (2005)
   Communications    Mauritius Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use:
364,500 (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
1.033 million (2008)
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 2008 reaching 80 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 (2008)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 4, FM 9, shortwave 0 (2001)
Television broadcast stations:
2 (plus several repeaters) (1997)
Broadcast media:
the government maintains control over TV broadcasting through the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), which operates 3 analog and 10 digital TV stations; MBC is a shareholder in a local company that operates 2 pay TV stations; the state retains the largest radio broadcast network with multiple stations; several private radio broadcasters have entered the market since 2001; transmissions of at least 2 international broadcasters are available (2007)
Internet country code:
.mu
Internet hosts:
22,813 (2009)
Internet users:
380,000 (2008)
   Transportation    Mauritius Top of Page
Airports:
5 (2009)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2009)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 1 (2009)
Roadways:
total: 2,028 km
paved: 2,028 km (includes 75 km of expressways) (2007)
Merchant marine:
total: 3
by type: passenger/cargo 2, refrigerated cargo 1 (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Port Louis
   Military    Mauritius Top of Page
Military branches:
no regular military forces; Mauritius Police Force, Special Mobile Force, National Coast Guard (2009)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 343,279 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 279,405
females age 16-49: 283,023 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 10,565
female: 10,447 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures:
0.3% of GDP (2006 est.)
   Transnational Issues    Mauritius Top of Page
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

This page was last updated on 14 May 2009


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