Mauritius

 

Although known to Arab and Malay sailors as early as the 10th century, Mauritius was first explored by the Portuguese in 1505; it 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, 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:
Location: Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar
Geographic coordinates: 20 17 S, 57 33 E
People:
Population: 1,313,095 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 21.8% (male 145,185/female 139,579)

15-64 years: 70.7% (male 457,743/female 463,875)

65 years and over: 7.5% (male 38,944/female 58,391) (2011 est.)

Government:
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)

Communications:
Telephones – main lines in use: 387,700 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 1.191 million (2009)
Transportation:
Airports: 5 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 2

over 3,047 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2012)

Military:
Military branches: no regular military forces; National Police Force, Special Mobile Force, National Coast Guard (2009)
Manpower available for military service: Males age 16-49: 343,628 (2010 est.)

Economy:

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 centres 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).

Transnational Issues:

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 transhipment 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