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Mauritius

The island of Mauritius, located in the Indian Ocean, lies to the east of Madagascar. This island, which was known to Arab and Malay sailors as early as the 10th century, was home to some Portuguese sailors as early as 1505. The Dutch, French and British have all had their turn in occupying this country over the past centuries. Mauritius obtained its independence from the British in 1968. Politically and socially, Mauritius sets a positive example to all other African countries. It is known for its lasting democracy and the racial understanding among its mixed peoples of Asian, European and African heritage. Over the years, Mauritius has attracted significant foreign investment and has one of Africa's

highest per capita incomes. Mauritius’s capital, Port Louis, is home to several French colonial buildings, such as the Government House and the Municipal Theatre. The Jummah Mosque on Royal Street and the Chinese Pagodo are some of the city's highlights. The southeast region is home to the Dutch ruins at Vieux Grand Port, which are the oldest settlements on this island. From fishing villages to water game resorts, Mauritius has a lot to offer. Mauritius is also known for its popular dance, the Sega. The dance, created by Mauritians of African origin, is mainly based on African music of the slaves that lived in this area. Although English is the official language, it is only spoken by less than 1% of the population. Most Mauritians speak Creole. The language of Creole was created by slave and labourers who were forced to speak French, but received no formal training. Creole is therefore very similar to French but there are numerous differences in the pronunciation and use of words. Creole also consists of Malagasy words (from the language spoken in Madagascar), as well as some Swahili and Indian words. Because of the mixture of cultures and languages in Mauritius, many Mauritians are multilingual.
CATEGORIES: Demographics - Quick Facts - Economy - Communications - Health Issues
Demographics
Country Flag: Mauritius Flag

Four equal horizontal bands of red (top), blue, yellow, and green

Nationality: Mauritian

Capital: Port Louis

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

Age structure:

  • 0-14 years: 23.9%
  • 15-64 years: 69.5%
  • 65 years and over: 6.6% (2006 est.)  

Population growth rate: 0.82% (2006 est.)

Literacy rate:

  • ages 15 and above can read and write.
  • 85.6% of the population is literate (male: 88.6%, female: 82.7%) (2003 est.)

Major religions: Hindu 48%, Roman Catholic 23.6%, other Christian 8.6%, Muslim 16.6%, 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)

Quick Facts
Area:
  • total: 2,040 sq km
  • land: 2,030 sq km
  • water: 10 sq km

Area comparative to Canadian province:
half the size of Prince Edward Island

Natural resources: arable land, fish

Environmental Issues: water pollution, degradation of coral reefs

Economy


Economically, Mauritius is amongst Africa’s shining stars. Since gaining independence in 1968, the economy of Mauritius has evolved from a low-income, agriculturally based economy to a middle-income diversified economy. The industrial, financial and tourist sectors continue to grow. Mauritius has an improving income distribution. There is a higher life expectancy and a lower infant mortality rate. Sugarcane grows in nearly 90% of the cultivated land area and comprises for 25% of export earnings.  The government is focusing on expanding local financial institutions and improving the domestic information telecommunications industry. Mauritius continues to attract many offshore entities. Mauritius has a strong textile sector and is well prepared to take advantage of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act. Mauritius attracts various foreign investors.


Major industries:

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

Agricultural products:

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

Oil production: 0 bbl/day (2003)

Railways: N/A

Road map: 2,254 km (paved: 2,254 km) (including 75 km of expressways)

Currency: Mauritian Rupee

Communications

Telephone lines in use: 353,800 (2004)

Cellular lines in use: 510,000 (2004)

Television Stations: 2 (plus several repeaters) (1997)

Radio Stations: AM 4, FM 9, shortwave 0 (2002)

Internet users: 180,000 (2005)

Health Issues

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

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

More Information

For more informaiton, please visit:
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/mp.html