|General 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.
Almost 11 times the size of Washington, DC
Climate: 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
Population: 1,200,206 (July 2002 est.)
Ethnic groups: Indo-Mauritian 68%, Creole
27%, Sino-Mauritian 3%, Franco-Mauritian 2%
Religions: Hindu 52%, Christian 28.3% (Roman
Catholic 26%, Protestant 2.3%), Muslim 16.6%, other
Language: English (official), Creole, French
(official), Hindi, Urdu, Hakka, Bhojpuri
Government type: Parliamentary democracy
Capital: Port Louis
Legal system: Based on French civil law system
with elements of English common law in certain areas.
Economic 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 centres on foreign investment. 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 and responsible
fiscal management, was well-poised to take advantage
of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Communication/Telephone system: Small system
with good service.
Places of interest: Exquisite resorts offering
all exciting kinds of water sports.
Travel tips: Don't drink the tap (faucet)
water, buy the bottled kind.