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Mauritius officially the Republic of Mauritius is an island nation off the coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about 900 kilometres east of Madagascar. In addition to the island of Mauritius, the Republic includes the islands of St. Brandon, Rodrigues and the Agalega Islands. Mauritius is part of the Mascarene Islands, with the French island of Runion 200 km to the southwest and the island of Rodrigues 570 km to the northeast.

Background History

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.



Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Republic of Mauritius
  • conventional short form: Mauritius


  • 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 (from the UK)

Government Type:

  • parliamentary democracy

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Rajkeswur Kailash Purryag (since 21 July 2012)
  • head of government: Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam (since 5 July 2005)
  • elections: president and vice president elected by the National Assembly for five-year terms (eligible for a second term); elections last held on 21 July 2012 (next to be held in 2017); prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president, responsible to the National Assembly

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: unicameral National Assembly

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Supreme Court


People & Society


  • 1,331,155 (global rank: 156)
  • growth rate: 0.66% (global rank: 148)


  • noun: Mauritian(s)
  • adjective: Mauritian

Major Cities:

  • Port Louis (capital) 151,000

Ethnic Groups:

  • Indo-Mauritian 68%, Creole 27%, Sino-Mauritian 3%, Franco-Mauritian 2%


  • Hindu 48.5%, Roman Catholic 26.3%, Muslim 17.3%, other Christian 6.4%, other 0.6%, none 0.7%, unspecified 0.1%


  • Creole 86.5%, Bhojpuri 5.3%, French 4.1%, two languages 1.4%, other 2.6% (includes English, the official language, which is spoken by less than 1% of the population), unspecified 0.1%

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 75.17 years (global rank: 98)
  • male: 71.71 years
  • female: 78.81 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 10.59 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 136)
  • male: 12.59 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 8.5 deaths/1,000 live births


  • adult prevalence rate: 1.2% (2012 est.) (global rank: 40)
  • people living with AIDS: 10,500 (2012 est.) (global rank: 101)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 88.8%
  • male: 91.1%
  • female: 86.7%



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. Mauritius has achieved steady and strong growth over the last several decades, resulting 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). Mauritius' sound economic policies and prudent banking practices helped to mitigate negative effects of the global financial crisis in 2008-09. GDP grew in the 3-4% per year range in 2010-13, and the country continues to expand its trade and investment outreach around the globe.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $20.95 billion (global rank: 131)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $16,100 (global rank: 86)
  • real growth rate: 3.4% (global rank: 101)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 4.5%, industry: 22%, services: 73.4%


  • currency: Mauritian Rupees (MUR)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 30.89


  • population below poverty line: 8%
  • unemployment rate: 8.3%

Agricultural Products:

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


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

Export Commodities:

  • clothing and textiles, sugar, cut flowers, molasses, fish, primates (for research)

Import Commodities:

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




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


  • total: 2,040 sq km (global rank: 181)
  • land: 2,030 sq km
  • water: 10 sq km
  • comparative: almost 11 times the size of Washington, DC


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

Land Use:

  • arable land: 38.24%
  • permanent crops: 1.96%
  • other: 59.8%

Natural Resources:

  • arable land, fish

Current Environmental Issues:

  • water pollution, degradation of coral reefs


Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: Mauritius and Seychelles claim the Chagos Islands; 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

Published: Thursday, March 12, 2015