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Mauritius

MAURITIUS

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
TOPOGRAPHY
CLIMATE
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENVIRONMENT
POPULATION
MIGRATION
ETHNIC GROUPS
LANGUAGES
RELIGIONS
TRANSPORTATION
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL PARTIES
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
JUDICIAL SYSTEM
ARMED FORCES
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
ECONOMY
INCOME
LABOR
AGRICULTURE
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
FISHING
FORESTRY
MINING
ENERGY AND POWER
INDUSTRY
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DOMESTIC TRADE
FOREIGN TRADE
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
INSURANCE
PUBLIC FINANCE
TAXATION
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
FOREIGN INVESTMENT
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HEALTH
HOUSING
EDUCATION
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
MEDIA
ORGANIZATIONS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
FAMOUS MAURITIANS
DEPENDENCIES
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Republic of Mauritius

CAPITAL: Port Louis

FLAG: The national flag consists of four horizontal stripes of red, blue, yellow, and green.

ANTHEM: Glory to Thee, Motherland, O Motherland of Mine.

MONETARY UNIT: The Mauritius rupee (r) is a currency of 100 cents. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents and 1 rupee, and notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 rupees. r1 = $0.03432 (or $1 = r29.14) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is in general use; traditional weights and measures also are employed.

HOLIDAYS: New Year, 12 January; National Day, 12 March; Labor Day, 1 May. Christian, Hindu, and Muslim holidays also are observed.

TIME: 4 pm = noon GMT.

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT

Mauritius is situated in the Indian Ocean, about 900 km (559 mi) e of Madagascar and 2,000 km (1,250 mi) off the nearest point of the African coast. The island of Rodrigues, an integral part of Mauritius, is located about 560 km (350 mi) off its northeastern coast. The two islands of Agalega lie 1,122 km (697 mi) to then of Mauritius; also to then is the St. Brandon Group (Cargados Carajos Shoals). Mauritius has a total area of about 2,040 sq km (7788 sq mi), of which the island of Mauritius occupies 1,860 sq km (720 sq mi); the island of Rodrigues, 110 sq km (42.5 sq mi); and the other offshore islands, 71 sq km (27 sq mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Mauritius is slightly less than 10.5 times the size of Washington, DC. Mauritius extends 61 km (38 mi) ns and 47 km (29 mi) ew, and has a coastline of 177 km (110 mi).

The nation also claims Diego Garcia, a British dependency about 1,900 km (1,200 mi) ne, and a French possession, Tromelin Island, about 555 km (345 mi) nw. The OAU has supported Mauritius's claim to Diego Garcia.

The capital city of Mauritius, Port Louis, is located on the island's northwest coast.

TOPOGRAPHY

Mauritius is mostly of volcanic formation and is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs. A coastal plain rises sharply to a plateau 275 to 580 m (9001,900 ft) high. Piton de la Rivière Noire, the highest peak, reaches 828 m (2,717 ft). The longest river is the Grand River South East, which stretches from the center of the country to the central eastern border with a distance of 40 km (29 mi).

CLIMATE

The subtropical maritime climate is humid, with prevailing southeast winds. The temperature ranges from 18° to 30°c (6486°f) at sea level, and from 13° to 26°c (5579°f) at an elevation of 460 m (1,500 ft); the warmest season lasts from October to April, the coolest from June to September. From October to March, southeast trade winds bring heavy rains to the central plateau and windward slopes, which have a yearly average rainfall of over 500 cm (200 in). On the coast, rainfall averages about 100 cm (40 in) annually. Daily showers occur from April to September and occasional tropical cyclones between December and April.

FLORA AND FAUNA

Mauritius originally was covered by dense rain forest, which included heath and mossy forest at higher elevations and coastal palm savanna. Present vegetation consists chiefly of species brought by the settlers. Mauritius is the home of two indigenous snakes, the Boleyria multicarinata and Casarea dussumieri; also indigenous to Mauritius was the now extinct dodo bird, one of many exotic animal species that thrived in isolation from predators, including man. European settlers introduced dogs, cats, rats, monkeys, wild pigs, sambur deer, and mongoose.

ENVIRONMENT

The main environmental problems facing Mauritius are water pollution, soil erosion, and preservation of its wildlife. The sources of water pollution are sewage and agricultural chemicals. The erosion of the soil occurs through deforestation.

The Ministry of Housing, Lands, and the Environment has principal responsibility in environmental matters. As of 2003, about 7.8% of the nation's total land area is protected. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the number of threatened species included 3 types of mammals, 13 species of birds, 5 types of reptiles, 7 species of fish, 27 types of mollusks, 5 species of other invertebrates, and 87 species of plants. Endangered species on the island of Mauritius include the pink pigeon, Round Island boa and keel-scaled boa, green sea turtle, and Mauritius varieties of kestrel, parakeet, and fody. Endangered species on Rodrigues include distinctive varieties of brush warbler, fody, flying fox, and day gecko. Extinct species include the Mauritian duck, the Mauritius blue pigeon, the red rail, Rodrigues little owl, and the giant day gecko.

POPULATION

The population of Mauritius in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 1,243,000, which placed it at number 149 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 7% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 25% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 99 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 20052010 was expected to be 0.9%, a rate the government viewed as satisfactory. The projected population for the year 2025 was 1,426,000. The population density was 609 per sq km (1,578 per sq mi).

The UN estimated that 42% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 1.48%. The capital city, Port Louis, had a population of 143,000 in that year. Other cities and their estimated populations were Beau Bassin/Rose Hill, 106,987; Vacoas/Phoenix, 103,564; Curepipe, 81,600; and Quatre-Bornes.

MIGRATION

A small number of Mauritians emigrate each year, principally to Australia, Europe, and Canada. In 2000 the number of migrants living in Mauritius was 8,000. The net migration rate was an estimated -0.41 per 1,000 population in 2005. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.

ETHNIC GROUPS

The largest group on Mauritiusabout 68% of the populationis Indo-Mauritian, consisting of immigrants from India and their descendants. About 27% of the islanders are Creole (mixed European and African), 3% Sino-Mauritian, and 2% Franco-Mauritian.

LANGUAGES

English and French are the official languages; however, Creole, derived from French, is the most widely spoken (by 80.5% of the population). Bojpoori is the second most common language, spoken by about 12% of the population. Only 3.4% of the population speak French. Only a small minority speak English as a first language. On Rodrigues, virtually the entire population speaks Creole. Hindi, Urdu, and Hakka are also used in some groups.

RELIGIONS

According to a 2000 census, Hindus constituted about 50% of the total population. Christians made up about 32%, with a vast majority (about 85% of all Christians) affiliated with the Roman Catholic church. Other Christian denominations include Adventist, Assemblies of God, Christian Tamil, Church of England, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Evangelical, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Most Christians live in the southern portion of the country while the north tends to be predominantly Hindu. About 16% of the population were Muslims, with a majority being Sunni. There are a small number of Buddhists.

Throughout the country, there is a strong correlation between religious affiliation and ethnicity. Those of Indian descent are primarily Hindu or Muslim. Those of Chinese descent are often nominally Buddhists, but practicing Catholics, since they often admit their children to Catholic schools. Creoles and Europeans are primarily Catholic.

Though there is no state religion, a parliamentary decree allows that certain religions represented before independence (Roman Catholicism, the Church of England, Presbyterianism, Seventh-Day Adventist, Hinduism and Islam) are entitled to annual payments from the government. Other religions are registered by the Registrar of Associations in order to attain legal, tax-exempt status. Though there has been some social and political tension between the Hindu majority and the Christian, Muslim, and Creole minorities, there are few reports of violence or blatant discrimination. Certain Hindu, Tamil, Christian, and Muslim holidays are recognized as national holidays. The Ministry of Arts and Culture has a responsibility to promote interreligious and intercultural relations within the country.

TRANSPORTATION

Mauritius had an estimated 2,254 km (1,402 mi) of roads in 2003, of which all were paved, and included 75 km (47 mi) of expressways. As of 2003, there were 39,412 commercial vehicles and 101,436 private passenger cars. In 2005, the country had eight merchant ships in service of 1,000 GRT or more for a combined capacity of 22,946 GRT. In 1999 the Port Louis harbor completed a major expansion and modernization. Also in 2004 there were six airports, only two of which had paved runways as of 2005. Air Mauritius provides about four flights weekly to Rodrigues from the main airport at Plaisance, as well as, over 40 weekly international flights. In early 2001 Air Mauritius concluded an alliance with Delta Airlines. Other major airlines serving Mauritius are Air France, British Airways, Air India, Air Zimbabwe, Lufthansa (Condor), Singapore Airlines and South African Airways. In 2003, about 1.035 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international flights.

HISTORY

Long uninhabited, Mauritius was probably visited by Arab and Malay seamen and later by Portuguese and other European voyagers. However, significant contact did not take place until the Dutch, under Admiral Wybrandt van Warwijck, arrived in 1598. They named the island after their stadtholder, Prince Maurice of Nassau. Settlers arrived in 1638; their settlements were abandoned in 1710, however, and the French took possession in 1715, sending settlers from Réunion in 1721. The island was governed by the French East India Company until 1767, and by the French government for the next 43 years, except for a brief period of independence during the French Revolution. During the Napoleonic wars, French-held Mauritius became a major threat to British shipping in the Indian Ocean, and Britain occupied it in 1810.

Under British rule, Mauritius became a sugar-producing island. The French community secured major control of the cane fields and sugar refineries; lacking any appreciable British settlement, the island remained French in culture. Abolition of slavery in the British Empire caused an acute labor problem as the former slaves, African in origin, left the sugar fields to go into other occupations. To offset this loss, the United Kingdom, from 1835, allowed the planters to import indentured laborers from India. The system continued until 1907, with 450,000 Indians migrating to Mauritius.

The constitution of 1831 provided for a Council of Government, in which representation was largely by Europeans, although a few Creoles won nomination. The constitution of 1886 provided for a council of 27 members, including 10 elected members. The electorate was limited by property qualifications, which denied the population of Indian descent elective representation until 1926. The constitution of 1947 abolished property qualifications and extended the franchise to both sexes. Since 1948, the Indian population has dominated the elective seats. As a result of a constitutional conference held in London in September 1965, Mauritius was granted full internal self-government.

Mauritius became independent on 12 March 1968 and one month later became a member of the UN. Disturbances at the time of independence between Muslims and Creoles forced declaration of a state of emergency, at which time UK troops from Singapore aided in restoring order. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, chief minister in the colonial government, became the first prime minister after independence. Ramgoolam's Mauritius Labor Party (MLP) held power alone, or in coalition with others, until June 1982 when an alliance of the Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM) and the Mauritian Socialist Party (PSM) captured all 60 directly elected seats on the island of Mauritius. This coalition, known as the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM) formed a government. MMM leader Aneerood Jugnauth became prime minister. In March 1983, however, 11 of the 19 ministers resigned, all MMM members, and new elections were called. The voting, in August of that year, produced a clear mandate for a new coalition forged by Jugnauth. The MMM-dominated coalition won another clear-cut victory in August 1987 Legislative Assembly elections.

Jugnauth's coalition received a mandate again in the September 1991 general elections, winning 59 of 62 directly elected seats. As promised, the MSM/MMM alliance amended the constitution, making Mauritius a republic within the Commonwealth. Since 12 March 1992, Queen Elizabeth II has been replaced by a Mauritian chief of state.

In 1993, there was trouble in the coalition when a prominent minister in the MMM met officials of the Social Democrats (PMSD). The minister was fired by Jugnauth, but the other MMM members stayed in the coalition. At times, it appeared that the ruling coalition would fray, but they managed to negotiate terms of conciliation and stood united for the 20 December 1995 elections when they took 65% of the vote, or 60 of 62 elected seats. Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam became prime minister. Cassam Uteem and Angidi Veeriah Chettiar were later elected president and vice president.

Trouble in the coalition resurfaced in June 1997 when Ramgoolam fired MMM's leader, Paul Bérenger, who was vice-premier and minister of Foreign Affairs. Seven cabinet ministers belonging to MMM resigned in protest and, together with other elected MMM candidates, joined the parliamentary opposition group. This precipitated a second cabinet reshuffle since Ramgoolam took power in 1995. This left the labor party in power with only small parties aligned with it. Bérenger's place was now occupied by the vice president of the Labor Party, Kailash Purryag.

This unbalanced configuration provoked fears of a repeat of the ethnic clashes that had rocked Mauritius in 1968; however, ethnic violence did not materialize. After three days of rioting in the capital (Port Louis) and other parts of the country in February 1999, the country gradually returned to normal. Clashes between Rastafarians and police were triggered by the death in police custody of a popular reggae singer, Kaya. Three protesters were killed, a policeman died of heart failure, and over 100 were wounded in the clashes.

Although the country had suffered corruption scandals under the previous administration of Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam, Mauritius has largely avoided the corruption scourge characterizing much of Africa. After winning the September 2000 elections, the coalition government under Jugnauth and Bérenger stated that its priorities were to boost local and foreign investor confidence, and to re-launch the economy.

Mauritius is one of a few sub-Saharan African countries to attain the rank of middle-income status and rule by constitutional processthe country has had only three prime ministers since independence. In February 2002, two presidentsin their mostly ceremonial roleresigned in the space of a week objecting to antiterror legislation prompted by the 11 September attacks on the World Trade Center. An interim president, Supreme Court Chief Justice Arianga Pillay, signed the bill into law, which was twice passed by the parliament owing to strong support from Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth. The constitution requires the president either to sign the bill into law or leave office.

A ruling by the WTO following complaints of unfair trade practices lodged by Australia, Thailand, and Brazil caused Mauritius to lose its preferential access to US and European markets during 200507. Mauritius has enjoyed duty-free entry and trade quotas for its top two exports of sugar and textiles into the European and American markets since the 1970s. Under the Sugar Protocol, Mauritius enjoyed an annual fixed quota of over 500,000 metric tons at prices just under two-thirds of the world market price. Textiles were guaranteed duty-free entry into European Markets under the Lomé Convention with the EU, and a series of Multi-Fibre Agreements (MTA) renewed in 1977 and three other times since (the first MTA came to an end in 2005) restricted imports of low-cost textiles into Mauritius. This preferential access had attracted many investors into Mauritius.

Proposals by the EU reduced sugar prices in the EU by 37.5% during 200507. Removal of special trade status also exposes Mauritius to stiff competition from low-cost textile producers, notably China. The impending change in trade status resulted in tens of thousands of jobs lost in 2003/04 and more expected to follow in the export-processing zone (EPZ). With the comparative advantage about to evaporate, many investors were relocating to other low-cost countries. As one of the measures to revive the economy, Pravind Jugnauth, deputy prime minister and minister of finance and economic development, announced in April 2005 that Mauritius would become a duty-free island within four years, in order to attract tourists and trade and give Mauritians easier access to quality products at affordable prices. Still, economic woes precipitated by loss of preferential trade status, in particular growing unemployment, had political implications.

Analysts believe growing unemployment and a worsening economy helped to narrowly squeeze the opposition MLP-led Alliance Sociale into power in parliamentary elections that were held 3 July 2005. This alliance included five other parties: the Mauritian Party of Xavier-Luc Duval (Parti Mauricien Xavier-Luc Duval, PMXD), PMSD, The Greens (Les Verts), the Republican Movement (Mouvement Républicai, MR) and the Mauritian Militant Socialist Movement (Mouvement Militant Socialist Mauricien, MMSM). It beat the outgoing coalition composed of MSM and MMM. The Alliance Sociale coalition won 48.8% of the vote and 38 of the 62 elected seats compared to 42.6% of the vote and 22 seats won by the MSM/MMM/PMSD coalition. The turnout was 81.5%. Navinchandra Ramgoolam, the MLP leader, replaced Bérenger as the prime minister and formed a new government.

GOVERNMENT

The Mauritian government is parliamentary, with executive power vested under the constitution in a ceremonial president and an executive prime minister, who is leader of the majority party in parliament. The president and vice president are elected by the National Assembly, to serve five-year terms. The prime minister heads a Council of Ministers, which is responsible to a unicameral Legislative Assembly. Of its maximum 70 members, 62 are elected by universal suffrage (age 18), and as many as 8 "best losers" are chosen from runners-up by the Electoral Supervisory Commission by a formula designed to give at least minimal representation to all ethnic groups and underrepresented parties.

In elections held 25 February 2002, Karl Offmann was elected president and Raouf Bundhun vice president. Parliamentary elections were held 11 September 2000. In September 2003 the two-time premier, Sir Anerood Jugnauth, kept his coalition and campaign promise to hand over the premiership in mid-term to the MMM leader, and stepped down, and his deputy, Paul Raymond Bérenger, became prime minister. On 7 October 2003 Sir Anerood Jugnauth was sworn in as president of the republic, after Karl Offmann stepped down a year-and-a-half after assuming power. Raouf Bundhun remained vice president. Presidential elections are scheduled for 2007. Bérenger, the first Catholic, Franco-Mauritian head of government, did not stay in power for long either. Parliamentary elections held on 3 July 2005 returned Navin Chandra Ramgoolam to office as prime minister.

POLITICAL PARTIES

The Mauritius Labor Party (MLP), headed by Prime Minister Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, received support during 35 continuous years in office (194782) from the Hindu and Creole communities and some Muslims; often sharing power in those years was the Muslim Committee of Action (MCA). The Mauritian Social Democratic Party (Parti Mauricien Social-Démocratique, PMSD) has long represented the Franco-Mauritian and Creole landowning class.

A new political party, the Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM), was formed in 1970. Its leaders were imprisoned in 1971 after the MMM called for a general strike to protest legislation banning strikes in industries controlled by MMM affiliates. The party leadership was later freed, and in the 1976 elections the MMM won more seats than the MLP, although not enough to achieve power. In the 1982 elections, the MMM captured 42 seats in parliament and joined the Mauritian Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste Mauricien, PSM) in a ruling coalition under Aneerood Jugnauth; unlike the MMM, which had strong Creole representation, the PSM was primarily Hindu.

Jugnauth's government fell apart in the early months of 1983, in the course of a power struggle within the MMM that led to the prime minister's expulsion from his own party. Jugnauth then formed the Mauritian Socialist Movement (Mouvement Socialiste Mauricien, MSM), which, in alliance with the MLP, captured 37 of 62 directly elected seats in the August balloting. The MMM won 19 seats, the PMSD 4, and a Rodrigues-based party, the Organisation du Peuple Rodriguais (OPR), 2. In August 1987 elections, the MSM, in alliance with the MLP and PMSD, won 39 of 62 directly elected seats; a three-party coalition including the MMM won 21 seats; and the OPR won 2 seats.

The legislative elections of 15 September 1991 resulted in the MSM/MMM alliance getting 59 seats (53% of the vote) and the MLP/PMSD alliance three seats (38%). By October 1993, however, the MMM had divided into two factions: one remained in the government and the other, headed by former Foreign Minister Paul Bérenger, took opposition seats in parliament.

Legislative elections held in December 1995 saw a newly solidified MMM/MLP coalition win 60 seats (35 for MLP and 25 for MMM) of the 62 elected seats. The Rodrigues Movement had two seats; two seats were given to the OPR; one to the Gaetan Duval Party; and one to Hizbullah. The MMM/MLP coalition fell apart in June 1997 with the firing of Bérenger from the vice-premiership, leaving the MLP in power with small parties aligned with it.

Following the reconfiguration of an opposition alliance comprising Anerood Jugnauth's Militant Socialist Movement and Paul Bérenger's Mauritian Militant Movement, the coalition successfully swept the 11 September 2000 elections, winning 52.3% of the vote, and holding the MLP/PMSD to 36.9%, and the OPR to 10.8%. The breakdown of seats was 54 for the MSM/MMM, 6 for the MLP/PMSD, and 2 for the OPR. Sir Anerood Jugnauth stepped down as he had promised and handed the premiership over to Paul Bérenger on 30 September 2003. Bérenger was to lose it in the 2005 elections.

In parliamentary elections held on 3 July 2005, the opposition Alliance Sociale led by the MLP, and also incorporating the PMXD, PMSD, The Greens, MR and MMSM, narrowly won the elections, garnering 48.8% of the vote and winning 38 of the 62 contested seats. The Alliance Social ousted Alliance MSM/MMM which won 42.6% of the vote and 22 parliamentary seats. The two remaining seats for Rodrigues were won by OPR, which took only 0.8% of the vote. According to the constitution, President Anerood Jugnauth allocated an additional eight seats to ethnic groups, bringing total representation to 42 Alliance Sociale, 24 MSM/MMM, and 4 OPR.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

There are nine administrative districts and three dependencies, of which the Island of Rodrigues is one. The other dependencies are Agalega Islands and Carajos Shoals. The lowest level of local government is the village council, composed of elected as well as nominated members; above the village councils are three district councils. Commissions govern the major towns. There are also three dependencies.

Municipal council elections were held on 2 October 2005 followed by village council elections on 11 December 2005. The Alliance Sociale won all the wards in all the five municipalities, except in one of the four wards of the Town of Beau Bassin-Rose Hill, where Alliance MSM/MMM won three of the seven council positions.

JUDICIAL SYSTEM

The statutes are based mainly on old French codes and on more recent laws with English precedents. The Supreme Court has a chief justice and six other judges who also serve on the Court of Criminal Appeal, the Court of Civil Appeal, the Intermediate Court, the Industrial Court, and 10 district courts. Final appeal can be made to the UK Privy Council.

The president, in consultation with the prime minister, nominates the chief justice, and then with the advice of the chief justice also appoints the associate judges. The president nominates other judges on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service Commissions.

The legal system provides fair public trials for criminal defendants. Defendants have the right to counsel, including court-appointed counsel in case of indigency.

Mauritius has had a good record of freedom of the press and rule of law, except for isolated incidents. These include a rough economic period and unrest in the 1970s when the government attempted to impose some restrictions, particularly on newspapers opposed to its policies, and arbitrary arrests became more frequent, but fierce opposition led to the abolition of the laws. There were also local and international concerns over government plans to put in place "sanctions" against private radio stations which had angered the government over coverage of an explosion in the northern city of Grand-Baie in August 2004.

ARMED FORCES

All defense and security duties are carried out by a 2,000 personnel paramilitary police force. The forces within this structure were an estimated 500-member Coast Guard and an estimated 1,500member Special Mobile Force. There was also an air wing with two utility helicopters. The defense budget for 2005 was $21.4 million.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

Mauritius joined the United Nations on 24 April 1968 and belongs to ECA and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the FAO, IAEA, the World Bank, UNESCO, UNIDO, and the WHO. The nation participates in the WTO, the African Development Bank, COMESA, Commonwealth of Nations, G-77, the ACP Group, Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), and African Union. In 1984, Mauritius joined Madagascar and Seychelles in establishing the Indian Ocean Commission; the Comoros and France (as the representative of Réunion) joined in 1985. Mauritius also is a member of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). The country is part of the Nonaligned Movement.

In environmental cooperation, Mauritius is part of the Basel Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar, CITES, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.

ECONOMY

The Mauritius economy, diverse and conservatively managed, is based on export-oriented manufacturing (mainly clothing), sugar, and tourism. Most of production is done by private enterprise, with the government largely limiting its role to providing institutional facilities and incentives for production. More than 250 garment factories were operating in the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) of Mauritius in 2002, and more than 500 companies operate in the EPZ overall. As of 2005, services accounted for 64% of GDP, industry for 29.9%, and agriculture for 6.1%.

The economy grew at an impressive average rate of 6% in the early 1980s. However, economic growth started to decline in 1988 as the economy experienced some of the problems associated with success, including labor shortages, rising inflation, and capacity constraints. In the early 1990s, the economy showed signs of a modest recovery, with solid real growth and low unemployment. Between 1988 and 1998, the economy was estimated to have grown at an annual rate of approximately 5.3%, which is approximately where it stood in 2001. The GDP growth rate was estimated at 3.8% in 2005.

Important to Mauritius's industrial development is the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in which imported goods and raw materials are processed for export. EPZ products include textiles and clothing (80%), electrical components, and diamonds. Manufacturing in the EPZ provided nearly 45% of export earnings in 2002. Legislation gives investors in EPZ enterprises tax relief, duty exemption on most imports, unlimited repatriation of capital and profits, and cut-rate electricity. However, some of the country's larger manufacturing industries were moving their labor-intensive production to Madagascar. Preferential access to markets in Europe and the United States has been threatened by WTO regulations that do away with textile, clothes, and sugar quotas.

Sugarcane covers approximately 45% of the island's land area, and 90% of cultivated land. Sugarcane accounts for 25% of export earnings. Adverse weather conditions reduced the importance of sugarcane to the Mauritian economy in the late 1990s, but exports of cane brought in almost 8% of the GDP. To further enhance its competitive advantage, in 1992 the government passed legislation for the creation of a commercial free port in Port Louis. The free port provides warehousing as well as facilities for processing foods and materials for reexport to destinations around the world. The financial services sector of the economy is expanding, as is the tourism sector. Mauritius is increasing its trade with India and South Africa, largely through more than 9,000 offshore entities.

INCOME

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Mauritius's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $16.4 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $13,300. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 3.8%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 5.6%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 6.1% of GDP, industry 29.9%, and services 64%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $215 million or about $176 per capita and accounted for approximately 4.1% of GDP.

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Mauritius totaled $3.23 billion or about $2,644 per capita based on a GDP of $5.2 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 4.7%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 21% of household consumption was spent on food, 13% on fuel, 3% on health care, and 13% on education. It was estimated that in 2001 about 10% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.

LABOR

Mauritius's labor force in 2005 was estimated at 570,000 workers. As of 2003, about 53.6% were employed in the services sector, 37.1% by industry and 9.4% by agriculture. The estimated unemployment rate in 2005 was 10.5%.

Unions have the legal right to organize, strike, and bargain collectively, and the trade union movement is active. There were over 335 labor unions in 2001, with 111,231 members, representing about 22% of the workforce. Workers are granted the right to strike, but this is severely curtailed by a mandatory cooling-off period and compulsory binding arbitration. Antiunion discrimination is prohibited and an arbitration tribunal handles complaints of such discrimination. Although the law protects collective bargaining, there are not enough safeguards in place to protect employees from discriminatory actions by employers.

The minimum working age is 15, with restrictions for those under age 18. However, child labor and exploitation is still practiced and penalties for infractions are minimal. Minimum wages are set by the government, and cost-of-living allowances are mandatory. The minimum wage ranged from $3.53 to $12.30 per week in 2002, but due to a labor shortage and contract negotiations, actual wages are about double this figure. The standard legal workweek is 45 hours.

AGRICULTURE

Sugarcane is the major crop. In 2004, 5.28 million tons of cane were produced. Sugarcane occupies 34% of Mauritius's total land area and 68% of its cultivated land. It is an estate economy, with 21 large estates accounting for about 30% of the land cultivated, and 14,822 employees in 2004. Small operations account for 40% of the land cultivated and are grouped into cooperatives. In 2004, processing of sugar accounted for 16% of agricultural exports. Agriculture accounted for 6% of GDP and 19% of exports in 2004. Sugar's importance has diminished in recent years as manufacturing and tourism have grown.

Tea production in Mauritius has been on the decline, disadvantaged by production cost increases, labor shortages, and low world prices. The area under tea cultivation declined from 2,905 hectares (7,178 acres) in 1990 to 674 in 2004. Tobacco production was 357 tons in 2004, and now provides the raw material for most locally produced cigarettes. In recent years, horticultural products have been successfully grown for export, including flowers (mainly anthuriums), tropical fruits, and vegetables.

Other crops and 2004 yields were (in thousands of tons): tea, 8.7; potatoes, 11.2; tomatoes, 14.4; bananas, 12; cucumbers, 6.9; and cabbage, 6.5. Almost any crop can be grown on Mauritius, but the shortage of land means almost all cereals must be imported, including rice, the staple food. Potatoes and other vegetables are grown in the sugar fields between rows of cane.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

In 2005, Mauritius had 93,000 goats, 28,000 head of cattle, 11,500 pigs, and 9.8 million chickens. That year, 4,000 tons of cow milk, 30,500 tons of meat, and 5,200 tons of hen eggs were produced.

FISHING

The total catch in 2003 was 11,169 tons, a decline from 21,157 tons in 1993. In 2003, about 16% of the catch consisted of snapper. Exports of fish products were valued at nearly $75.1 million in 2003.

FORESTRY

About 8% of the total land area of Mauritius is classified as forest. Roundwood removals were an estimated 13,550 cu m (478,300 cu ft) in 2004, half of it burned as fuel. Sawn wood production was about 3,000 cu m (106,000 cu ft) in 2004.

MINING

There were few mineral resources in Mauritius. In 2004, Mauritius produced 89,400 metric tons of fertilizers, an estimated 7,700 metric tons of marine salt, and 65,000 metric tons of semi-manufactured steel. Historically, mineral output consisted of the local production and use of basalt construction stone, coral sand, lime from coral, and solar-evaporated sea salt. Concerns have been raised about the impact of coral sand mining on coastal lagoons. Polymetallic nodules occurred on the ocean floor, northeast of Tromelin Island, containing iron, manganese, and cobalt. However, these minerals were abundant on land. The near-term outlook for the exploitation of minerals other than construction materials was negligible.

ENERGY AND POWER

Mauritius, as of 1 January 2005 had no proven reserves of crude oil, natural gas, coal or petroleum refining capacity. As a result it is totally dependent upon imports to meet its fossil fuel needs.

In 2004, imports and consumption of refined petroleum products averaged 27,000 barrels per day. In 2003 demand for coal came to 320,000 short tons.

As of 1 January 2003, installed electric power generating capacity totaled 0.655 million kW, of which 91.6% of capacity was dedicated to conventional thermal fuel sources in 2002, and the remainder to hydropower. Electric power production totaled 1.94 billion kWh and consumption 1.81 billion kWh. A significant portion of all primary energy consumed comes from bagasse, or sugarcane waste.

INDUSTRY

Since 1986, Export Processing Zone (EPZ) export earnings have led those of the sugar sector. Investors are primarily from Mauritius itself and Hong Kong. The textile industry was the leading sector in the EPZ, with more than 90% of the EPZ's goods being produced for the United States and Europe; with the change in Mauritius's trade status taking effect in 2005, export earnings were under severe pressure. Other important products include chemicals, electronics, nonelectrical machinery, transportation equipment, precision engineering, skilled crafts, toys, nails, razor blades, and tires. Industry accounted for 29.9% of GDP in 2005. Mauritius is also emerging as a major business and financial center.

Manufacturing centers on the processing of agricultural products, sugarcane in particular. Of the 20 large sugar-producing estates 17 have their own factory. Normal production varies between 600,000 to 700,000 metric tons, but adverse weather during the late 1990s reduced these figures. Molasses and rum are among the sugar by-products produced in Mauritius. Local tobacco is made into cigarettes, and factories are maintained to process tea. Other small industries produce goods for local consumption, such as beer and soft drinks, shoes, metal products, and paints.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

In 1997, (the latest year for which data is available) there were 201 scientists and engineers and 126 technicians per million people that were engaged in research and development (R&D), R&D expenditures that year totaled $27.659 million or 0.29% of GDP. Of that amount, government sources accounted for 94.7%, with foreign sources accounting for the remaining 5.3%. High technology exports in 2002 totaled $29 million, or 2% of the country's manufactured exports.

The Mauritius Institute in Port Louis, founded in 1880, is a research center for the study of local fauna and flora. The Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute, founded in 1953, is located at Réduit. The University of Mauritius, founded in 1965 at Réduit, has schools of agriculture, engineering, and science. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 14% of college and university enrollments. The Regional Sugarcane Training Center for Africa, located in Réduit, is sponsored by the United Nations Development Program. The Port Louis Museum maintains collections of fauna, flora and geology of Mauritius and other islands of the Mascarene region.

DOMESTIC TRADE

Port Louis is the commercial center and the chief port. A wide variety of goods are distributed through the standard channels of importers, wholesalers, retailers, and supermarkets. Franchising, mainly in restaurants, has become more popular in the past few years. The nation's first McDonald's opened in 2001.

The government maintains price and markup controls on a number of consumer goods, including rice, onions, iron and steel bars, edible oils, certain appliances, pharmaceuticals, sporting goods, timber, and many others. A 1998 Consumer Protection Act extends government pricing controls to several other basic commodities, such as cheese, butter, canned and frozen meats, and sugar. There is a 15% VAT tax.

The Mauritius Freeport, a customs duty-free zone in the port and airport, turned the country into a major regional distribution, transshipment, and marketing center. This zone provides facilities for warehousing, transshipment operations and minor processing, simple assembly, and repackaging.

Business hours are from 9 am to 4 pm, MondayFriday, and 9 am to 12 pm on Saturday. Banks are open from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm, MondayFriday, and 9:30 to 11:30 am on Saturday. Shops operate from 9:30 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday, and from 9 am to 12 pm on Saturday. Most business is conducted in English and French.

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 1,862.1 2,389.5 -527.4
United Kingdom 574.3 78.0 496.3
France-Monaco 396.3 286.0 110.3
United States 325.3 62.5 262.8
Madagascar 116.9 50.4 66.5
Italy-San Marino-Holy See 68.5 75.6 -7.1
Germany 55.7 77.6 -21.9
Belgium 34.1 33.9 0.2
Netherlands 30.7 24.0 6.7
South Africa 28.2 288.7 -260.5
Spain 23.6 39.8 -16.2
() data not available or not significant.

FOREIGN TRADE

Export revenues from the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in the early 2000s amounted to 75% of total exports; and over $1.2 billion in receipts. Over half of Mauritius's exports are comprised of clothes and textiles, while the majority of the remainder belongs to the sugar trade. With the change in trade status and new pricing structures for the EU going into effect, Mauritius's exports were likely to suffer. In 2004, Mauritius's principal export partners were: the United Kingdom (33.1%), France (20.4%), the United States (14.8%), Madagascar (5.1%), and Italy (4.1%). The principal import partners in 2004 were: South Africa (11.3%), China (9.4%), India (9.3%), France (9.2%), Bahrain (5.3%), and Japan (4.1%).

BALANCE OF PAYMENTS

Mauritius imports more than it exports, but the difference is taken care of by revenues from tourism and other services. In 2005, the value of Mauritius's exports was estimated at $1.949 billion, and imports were estimated at $2.507 billion. The current-account balance was estimated at $151 million in 2005. Mauritius had $1.605 billion in foreign exchange reserves and gold in 2005. The country held an external debt burden of $2.958 billion.

BANKING AND SECURITIES

The Bank of Mauritius is the central bank. The Development Bank of Mauritius was established in March 1964 to provide loans for agricultural and industrial enterprises. There were 10 commercial banks operating in the country in 2002. Three were locally owned, including The Mauritius Commercial Bank Limited and the Sate Bank of Mauritius Limited, both of which dominated the market. The government-controlled Development Bank of Mauritius Limited provides loans to industry. The other seven banks are offshore, offering attractive tax rates, especially to US investment in India. Foreign exchange reserves at the Bank of Mauritius stood at $840 million in 1997, and were expected to reach $875 million by mid-1998. Total commercial bank assets were estimated at $3.4 billion.

The government made it clear early in the first quarter of 1997 that the Bank of Mauritius would intervene in the foreign exchange market in order to stabilize the value of the rupee. Interventions by the central bank helped the rupee to rebound after its decline against most foreign currencies, during the first nine months of 1996. In 1997, the Mauritian rupee was freely convertible.

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $530.5 million. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $3.6 billion. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 7.25%.

A market for securities or shares was not new to Mauritius when the Stock Exchange of Mauritius (SEMDEX) opened in 1989. Shares of companies had been traded in Mauritius in a market environment since the nineteenth century. The main difference between the market organized by Chambre de Courtiers de l'île Maurice and the market in its present form is the legal framework within which dealings in shares must now take place, and the regular meetings for share dealing. The stock market was opened to foreigners in 1994. In 2001, the market had 40 listed companies, and a capitalization that grew from $55 million in 1989 to $1.8 billion in 1997, but then had declined to $1.1 billion by 2001. As of 2004, a total of 41 companies were listed on the SEMDEX, with a total capitalization of $2.379 billion. In 2004, the SEMDEX rose 29.3% from the previous year to 710.8.

INSURANCE

There are at least 20 insurance companies operating in Mauritius. In 2003, the value of all direct insurance premiums written totaled

Current Account 121.7
     Balance on goods -277.7
         Imports 2,216.7
         Exports 1,939.0
     Balance on services 373.7
     Balance on income -30.1
     Current transfers 55.8
Capital Account -0.9
Financial Account 89.7
     Direct investment abroad 6.0
     Direct investment in Mauritius 62.6
     Portfolio investment assets -27.1
     Portfolio investment liabilities 8.9
     Financial derivatives
     Other investment assets -22.8
     Other investment liabilities 62.0
Net Errors and Omissions 11.8
Reserves and Related Items -222.4
() data not available or not significant.

$241 million, of which life insurance premiums accounted for $146 million. As of that same year, Mauritius's top nonlife insurer was Swan, with gross written nonlife premiums of $20.7 million. The country's leading life insurer in 2003 was BAI, which had gross written life insurance premiums of $47.7 million.

PUBLIC FINANCE

From the mid-1970s to 1981, the ratio of fiscal deficit to GDP increased from under 10% to 14%, due to deficit public spending. During the 1980s, an export-oriented economy caused the fiscal deficit to decline to 3% of GDP by 1989, and to 2% by 1991. In 1997, the deficit reached 4.6%, but the government announced measures that aimed at reducing the figure to 3.6% of GDP. The government's plan did not work; by fiscal year 2001/2002, the deficit had climbed to 6.3%. The new goal is to bring the deficit down to 3% of GDP by fiscal year 2005/2006.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Mauritius's central government took in revenues of approximately $1.3 billion and had expenditures of $1.7 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$393 million. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 26.2% of GDP. Total external debt was $2.958 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2003, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues were r32,919 million and expenditures were r37,972 million. The value of revenues in US dollars was us$1,180 and expenditures us$1,304, based on a market exchange rate for 2003 of us$1 = r27.901 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 24.5%; defense, 0.8%; public order and safety, 7.6%; economic affairs, 11.9%; environmental protection, 4.2%; housing and community amenities, 4.5%; health, 8.4%; recreation, culture, and religion, 2.2%; education, 15.8%; and social protection, 20.1%.

Revenue and Grants 32,919 100.0%
     Tax revenue 26,121 79.3%
     Social contributions 1,256 3.8%
     Grants 363 1.1%
     Other revenue 5,180 15.7%
Expenditures 37,972 100.0%
     General public services 9,303 24.5%
     Defense 299 0.8%
     Public order and safety 2,897 7.6%
     Economic affairs 4,518 11.9%
     Environmental protection 1,602 4.2%
     Housing and community amenities 1,723 4.5%
     Health 3,177 8.4%
     Recreational, culture, and religion 835 2.2%
     Education 5,997 15.8%
     Social protection 7,621 20.1%
() data not available or not significant.

TAXATION

As of 30 June 2005, Mauritius had a corporate income tax rate of 25%. However, companies that are awarded Tax Incentive Certificates by the government are eligible for a reduced tax rate of 15%. Effective 1 July 1998, offshore companies incorporated on or after this date were required to pay tax at a rate of 15%. In addition, mutual funds, unit trusts, and certain other types of companies pay a reduced rate of 15%. Companies granted a Global Business License are taxed at 15% and are eligible for other tax reductions and exemptions. Mauritius has double-taxation prevention treaties with about 30 countries. Generally, capital gains are not subject to an income tax. However, capital gains resulting from the disposal of land can be subjected to a separate tax. Land development taxes can also be assessed. Dividends are tax exempt.

The progressive scale for individual income tax, ranging from 530%, has been replaced by a simpler split schedule of two rates on taxable income: 15% on taxable income to 25,000 Rupees (about $860), and 25% on the rest. Social Security taxes are also assessed.

A general sales tax (GST) averaging 5% was imposed in 1983. As of 7 September 1998, the GST was replaced by a value-added tax (VAT) with a standard rate of 10%. On 1 July 2001, the standard rate was raised to 12%, and then, as of 7 January 2002, to 15%, where it remained as of 2005. The VAT applies to all goods and services except those specifically exempted. The exempt list includes basic foodstuffs, basic services (medical, hospital and dental), basic utilities (water and electricity), and all exported goods and service.

CUSTOMS AND DUTIES

Mauritius maintains a list of preferred trading partners to which it gives preferential tariff rates. Taxes on imports from the preferred list are levied at 080%. Imports of goods from other countries, at the 55% rate or higher, are subject to an additional 10% duty. A value-added tax (VAT) of 15% is levied on all imports. Vehicles, petroleum, alcohol, cigarettes, and furniture are subject to special excise duties of up to 360%.

Most imports require a license and state enterprises control the import of rice, wheat, flour, petroleum, cement, tea, tobacco, and sugar. There are few export controls, except the need for licenses to export sugar, tea, vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, textiles, pharmaceuticals, gold, live animals, coral, and shells.

Mauritius is a member of the South African Development Community (SADC), whose objective is creation of a free trade area by 2005. The country is also a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), which gives preferential rates of duty between member states.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

The government offers a variety of investment incentives, including, for industries in the Export Processing Zone, a corporate tax exemption of at least 10 years; an exemption from import duties on capital goods and most raw materials; free repatriation of profits, dividends, and invested capital; and a waiver of income taxes on dividends for 10 years. All foreign investment must obtain approval from the prime minister's office, except in the offshore business center and the stock exchange. Businesses in Freeport receive exemption from company tax and tax on dividends, preferential rates for storage, halved port handling charges, and exemption from import duty and sales tax on finished goods and machinery. Foremost among foreign investors are those from Hong Kong, followed by French, South African, German, and Indian interests.

Foreign ownership of services such as accounting, law, medicine, computer services, international marketing, and management consulting was limited to 30% in 1997. Ownership of investments serving the domestic market was limited to 49%. In December 2000, the Investment Promotion Act was passed, designed to streamline the investment process.

Total foreign direct investment (FDI) was $33 million in 1996. (However, because foreign investors have not been registering with the Central Bank since the abolition of exchange controls in 1994, it is generally cautioned that official statistics underestimate the amount of foreign investment in the country. Not included is the increasingly important offshore financial sector.) In 1997, FDI inflow rose to $56 million, mainly due to investments from South Africa in the banking sector. FDI inflow fell to $12.7 million in 1998, but increased to $55 million in 1999, most investments coming from South Africa. In 2000, FDI inflow reached almost $260 million, mostly due to France Telecom's purchase of a 40% share of Mauritius Telecom as part of their strategic alliance. Most investments in Mauritius's Export Processing Zone (EPZ) have been in low-skilled manufacturing enterprises in textiles, garments, toys, and leather goods.

In the mid-2000s, some leading sectors for investment included: information and communications technology; telecommunications and broadcasting equipment and services; environment and water; pharmaceuticals and medical equipment and supplies; tourism; and financial services.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

France has backed training for labor, a stock exchange (which opened under the Stock Exchange Act of 1988), and irrigation projects. The EU is supporting efforts at diversifying agriculture. The Mauritius plan to become an international financial center advanced as liberalized currency rules were put into effect in 1986. In 1995, Mauritius became the 12th member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Mauritius intended to invest up to $1.5 billion in infrastructure development projects from 1997 to 2007.

The government is putting effort into information and communications technologies, in an effort to diversify the economy away from its reliance upon sugar, textiles and apparel, and tourism. The government developed a five-year Sugar Sector Strategic Plan for 200105, to restructure the sugar industry, including reducing the labor force and the number of sugar mills in operation. The country's export processing zone firms have sizeable investments in Madagascar's export processing zone, and have been affected by political upheavals there. Nonetheless, growth in Mauritius was strong in the mid-2000s, and social conditions were improving. A rising unemployment rate is a concern, however (the unemployment rate was estimated at 10.5% in 2005). The government has passed anti-money laundering and antiterrorism legislation. With GDP growth rates averaging 56% in the mid-2000s, Mauritius's economic success was reflected in more equitable income distribution, reduced infant mortality rates, increased life expectancy, and greatly-improved infrastructure.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

Mauritius has a universal system of pensions that supplements an earnings-related pension system. The universal pension covers all residents, and is financed entirely from government sources. The universal pension pays a fixed sum according to the age of the pensioner. Employee pension benefits are determined by the number of years worked. A program of family allowances assists needy families with more than three children. Employment-related sickness and maternity benefits are provided, as well as worker's compensation and unemployment benefits, rent assistance, and a funeral grant.

The constitution prohibits discrimination based on gender. Although women do not face significant legal discrimination, most remain limited to traditional subordinate roles in the household and in the workplace. Domestic violence is pervasive and is often related to drug and alcohol abuse. The government is strengthening laws to protect women, although most stay with abusive spouses for financial and cultural reasons. The government is committed to promoting the rights of children.

Ethnic tensions exist between majority Hindus and minority Muslims. Human rights are generally respected, but there are reports of the mistreatment of prisoners and suspects.

HEALTH

As of 2004, there were an estimated 85 physicians, 232 nurses, and 13 dentists per 100,000 people. In the same year total health care expenditure was estimated at 3.4% of GDP. In 2000, 100% of the population of Mauritius had access to safe water and 100% had adequate sanitation.

The average life expectancy in Mauritius in 2005 was 72.38 years and the infant mortality rate was 15.03 per 1,000 live births. As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at 16.34 and 6.8 per 1,000 people respectively. The maternal mortality rate was 50 per 100,000 live births. As of 2000, 75% of married women (ages 15 to 49) were using contraception.

According to World Health Organization reports, 5.3% of children 36 years of age were anemic. Immunization rates for children up to one year old were: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 89%, and measles, 85%. The island of Mauritius has a high prevalence of non-insulin dependent diabetes. Physical inactivity and glucose intolerance through obesity are suggested culprits.

The high rates of coronary heart disease seen in Asian Indians, African-origin Creoles, and Chinese in this rapidly developing country may point to future problems in this region. Most deaths are cardiovascular-disease related.

The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 700 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 100 deaths from AIDS in 2003.

HOUSING

There are three basic types of houses: wattle and daub construction with thatched roofs; galvanized sheet-iron structures; and houses constructed of wood. In 2000, There were 297,671 housing units nationwide. Of these, about 65% were detached houses, 24.5% were semidetached homes or blocks of flats. About 99% of all dwellings were privately owned. Most households have three to five people. About 83.7% of all dwellings have indoor piped water, 99% have electricity, 87.8% have an indoor kitchen, and 74.8% have an indoor bathroom.

EDUCATION

Education is free up to college level and is compulsory for six years. The educational system is based largely in the British school system. Primary school covers six years of study. This is followed by seven years of secondary studies (five years lower and two years upper). The academic year runs from August to May.

In 2001, about 87% of children between the ages of four and five were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 97% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 74% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that nearly all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 25:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 20:1. In 2000, private schools accounted for about 23.9% of primary school enrollment and 72.7% of secondary enrollment.

Postsecondary institutions include the University of Mauritius; the University of Technology, Mauritius; the Mauritius College of the Air; the Mauritius Institute of Education; and the Mahatma Gandhi Institute. There are several polytechnical schools and about 30 private organizations that offer tertiary-level programs of study. Many university students study in Europe, India, Australia, and the United States. In 2003, about 15% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 84.3%, with 88.2% for men and 80.5% for women.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.7% of GDP, or 12.1% of total government expenditures.

LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS

Libraries include the Mauritius Institute Public Library (75,000 volumes), the Mauritius Archives (36,000), the University of Mauritius Library (100,000), and the Port Louis City Library (110,000). The National Library, located at Port Louis and opened in 2000, has a collection of 230,000 items. The Sugar Industry Research Institute Library maintains a unique collection of 29,870 volumes on all aspects of sugarcane cultivation and manufacture. The Mahatma Gandhi Institute in Moka operates a library as well.

The Mauritius Museums Council operates the Natural History Museums (1880) in Port Louis and in Mahébourg (1950). The Folk Museum of Indian Migration is in Moka at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute. Port Louis is also home to a historical museum and a natural history museum.

MEDIA

All parts of the island are linked by telegraph, telephone, and postal services. In 2003, there were an estimated 285 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; about 13,500 people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. Also in 2003, there were approximately 267 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

The state-owned Mauritius Broadcasting Corp. provides radio and television service in French, English, Hindi, and Chinese. In 2001, the government established the Independent Broadcast Authority, which is intended to formulate regulations for private broadcast licenses. The members of the group are primarily representatives of government ministries and the chair is appointed by the prime minister. In 2004, there were three independent, privately owned radio stations in operation. There were no private television stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 379 radios and 299 television sets for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were 116.5 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 123 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 19 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

There are over a dozen privately owned newspapers across the country. Leading daily newspapers (with 2002 circulations) include L'Express (35,000), Le Mauricien (35,000), The New Nation (15,000), and The Sun (unavailable), each published in Port Louis in both French and English. There are three major Chinese language newspapers.

Free speech and press are constitutionally provided and said to be respected by the government.

ORGANIZATIONS

There are various commercial and scholarly organizations of the Western type, including the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry; the Indian Traders' Association; the Mauritius Employers' Federation; The Mauritius Cooperative Agricultural Federation (which had 209 member societies in 1993); and the Mauritius Cooperative Union.

National youth organizations include the Young Socialists, the Mauritius Scout Association, the Mauritius Student Association for the United Nations, the Mauritius Union of Students' Councils, the Mauritius World Federalist Youth, the Mauritius Young Communist League, Junior Chamber, the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs, and YMCA/YWCA. Several sports associations are active, including those representing such sports as tae kwon do, squash, tennis, yachting, and badminton. The International Council of Hindu Youth also has a base in Mauritius.

The Institute for Consumer Protection, founded in 1983, serves as both a consumer protection agency and as an agency for the promotion of maternal and infant health. International organizations with active chapters in the country include Amnesty International, Caritas, and the Red Cross. The multinational Indian Ocean Commission, founded in 1982, is based in Mauritius.

TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION

The government has made efforts to promote upscale tourism and attract visitors from more countries. In addition to the nation's beaches, lagoons, and other scenic sites, tourist attractions include the colonial architecture of Port Louis, an extinct volcano in Curepipe, the fishing port and naval museum at Mahebourg, and the Botanical Gardens at Pamplemousses. Football (soccer) is the national sport. Badminton, volleyball, basketball, tennis, and water sports are also popular. Many of the hotels also have golf facilities.

In 2003, about 702,000 tourists visited Mauritius, of whom 28% came from France. That year there were 9,647 hotel rooms with 19,727 beds and a 63% occupancy rate. Tourist expenditure receipts totaled $946 million.

Visitors must have a valid passport, onward/return ticket, hotel confirmation, and sufficient funds for the stay. All travelers are required to carry a visa except nationals from the United States and most European countries.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the cost of staying in Mauritius at $216.

FAMOUS MAURITIANS

Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam (190085), the first leader of independent Mauritius, was prime minister from 1968 to 1982, when Anerood Jugnauth (b.1930) succeeded him. Jugnauth served as prime minister from 198295, and then again from 200003, when he was named president. Navinchandra Ramgoolam (b.1947), was prime minister from 19952000, and then again beginning in 2005.

DEPENDENCIES

Dependencies are the Agalega Islands and the St. Brandon Group.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Allen, Richard B. Slaves, Freedmen, and Indentured Laborers in Colonial Mauritius. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Bennett, Pramila Ramgulam. Mauritius Collaboration of George John Bennett. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Clio Press, 1992.

Kamoche, Ken M. (ed.). Managing Human Resources in Africa. New York: Routledge, 2004.

Mauritius: Expanding Horizons. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1992.

NgCheong-Lum, Roseline. Culture Shock! Mauritius. A Guide to Customs and Etiquette. Singapore: Time Books International, 1997.

Population-Development-Environment: Understanding Their Interactions in Mauritius. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1994.

Selvon, Sydney. Historical Dictionary of Mauritius. 2nd ed. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1991.

Vaughan, Megan. Creating the Creole Island: Slavery in Eighteenth-Century Mauritius. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2005.

Zeilig, Leo and David Seddon. A Political and Economic Dictionary of Africa. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2005.

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Mauritius

MAURITIUS

Republic of Mauritius

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

LOCATION AND SIZE.

Mauritius is an island in the Indian Ocean, located 2,400 kilometers (1,491 miles) off the southeast coast of Africa. It has a total area of 1,860 square kilometers (781 square miles), and a coastline of 177 kilometers (110 miles). The Republic of Mauritius also includes the barely populated Agalega Islands and the Cargados Carajos Shoals, as well as Rodrigues (population 35,000). The capital, Port Louis, is situated on the west coast of the island, and has a population of approximately 136,000.

POPULATION.

The population of Mauritius was estimated to be 1,179,368 in July 2000, with a population growth rate at 0.89 percent. The population is relatively young, with 26 percent of the population under 14 years of age, 68 percent between 15 and 64, and just 6 percent over the age of 65. The life expectancy for the population is 70.98.

Mauritian society is a heterogeneous one. The 2 main population groups are the ethnic Indians, who make up 68 percent of the population, and the Creoles, mixed race descendants of African slaves and colonial settlers, who comprise 27 percent. Other groups include Chinese (3 percent) and white Franco-Mauritians (2 percent). The ethnic Indians are further divided into Hindus and Muslims, with the Hindus being the majority. Nevertheless, the inhabitants of the island tend to view themselves as Mauritians first and foremost.

Given that Mauritius has such a small land surface, population growth and immigration are discouraged by the government. Population density is already very high, with 571 people per square kilometer (1,479 per square mile), compared with an average of 45 per square kilometer (117 per square mile) for the world as a whole.

OVERVIEW OF ECONOMY

From the 17th century, the Mauritian economy depended almost exclusively on sugar. Slaves were imported from Africa to work on the sugar plantations. After the abolition of slavery in the 19th century, plantations came to rely more on indentured Indian labor, whose ancestors today form the largest portion of the islands' population.

By the 1960s, Mauritius was still a monocultural economy (dependent on a single crop), and had to import many goods for local consumption. Unemployment was high, which created social tensions. In the mid-1960s, the Mauritian government began to follow a 2-pronged strategy of import substitution and export-oriented development.

Import substitution was promoted through the use of high tariff barriers to protect local industry from overseas competition. To encourage the production of goods for export, Export Processing Zones (EPZs) were established in 1971, following the successful Taiwanese model. The principle behind EPZs was to import semi-finished goods duty -free, to complete the manufacturing process in the EPZs, and then to re-export these goods. Clothing and textiles were the main manufactures produced by the EPZ sector.

The EPZ sector grew rapidly since its inception and attracted large amounts of foreign investment. This allowed for the rapid industrialization of the country. Nowadays, only 25 percent of export earnings come from sugar, while 40 percent are derived from manufacturing. Over the past twenty years, the economy has consistently achieved high rates of growth, resulting in a quadrupling of GDP per capita between 1970 and 1997. According to the World Bank, the economy of Mauritius has sustained a growth rate of about 5.5 percent since independence in 1968, and the country is currently classified among middle-income earners.

Besides manufacturing and sugar, the nation's other important economic sectors are tourism and financial services. With its white sands, coral reefs, and subtropical climate, Mauritius is an island paradise for tourists. Visitors come mainly from Europe and from South Africa.The hospitable nature of the Mauritian people also contributes to the island's attraction.

The island of Rodrigues has not seen the same level of development as Mauritius haswhich is perhaps not so surprising when one considers that the 2 islands are 600 kilometers (373 miles) apart. Subsistence agriculture is the main economic activity on Rodrigues, with the principal crop being maize instead of sugarcane.

By the late 1990s in Mauritius, only about 5 percent of the population was living below the poverty line. However, challenges such as tariff reductions, rising wages, and limited growth prospects for the almost-saturated tourism industry have contributed to an increase in unemployment on the island, which in mid-2000 stood at 8 percent. This is rather disturbing for a country that had had full employment only a few years before.

A major factor which should not be overlooked in Mauritius's success is the political climate, which is characterized by stability and ethnic tolerance. Ordinary Mauritians have also demonstrated a strong work ethic, which has resulted in a highly productive labor force .

The debt levels both in terms of GDP and exports are manageable, hence Mauritius is not considered a highly indebted country. In June 1999, external debt was around 30 percent of GDP. There is a healthy balance between local and foreign debt positions, with local debt comprising over 80 percent of total public debt and the residual being foreign.

With respect to donor assistance, the World Bank notes that, due to the country's access to capital markets, official development assistance has declined considerably since 1990 and has become increasingly selective. Although donor assistance is important to supplement private capital flows, Mauritius is not dependent on foreign aid.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND TAXATION

Mauritius earned its independence from Britain in 1968, which had controlled the islands since 1810, and the Mauritians have continued to follow the British model of government. Mauritius is a parliamentary democracy based on the Westminster model, with elections being held once every 5 years. There is a 66-seat National Assembly, 62 of whose members are elected by direct popular vote, while 4 are appointed to represent minority interest. The National Assembly elects the president, who in turn selects the prime minister.

Although Mauritius is in general a peaceful society, its politics are somewhat capricious. In spite of the small size of the country, there are a fair number of political parties. Most governments over the past twenty years have been coalitions, comprising 2 or more political parties. The major political parties are the Militant Movement of Mauritius (MMM), the Mauritian Social Democrat Party (PMSD), the Mauritian Labor Party (MLP), and the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM). Voting is based to a certain extent along ethnic lines. Although there are few significant differences among the major parties, the MMM tends to be more socialist in outlook and is favored especially by the Creoles, while the MLP's support-base is mainly Indian.

The elections in September 2000 resulted in a victory for an alliance of Anerood Jugnauth's Militant Socialist Movement and Paul Bérenger's Militant Movement of Mauritius. The alliance ousted Navin Ramgoolam's Mauritian Labor Party, which had gained power in 1995. Jugnauth, in power from 1982-1995, presided over the country's transformation from dependence on sugar to a modern, diversified economy. The MSM/MMM alliance has promised to tackle corruption and mismanagement of public finances (said to be the downfall of the Labor Party), but otherwise will continue with broadly similar policies to those implemented. The voter participation rate in the 2000 elections was high, with over 80 percent of registered voters turning up at the polls.

Taxation in Mauritius is relatively low, with tax revenue comprising only 17.7 percent of GDP in 1998. The highest income tax rate for individuals is 25 percent (recently reduced from 30 percent), while the corporate rate is 15 percent for manufacturing companies. Special tax incentives are available to certain kinds of companies, notably those classified as "offshore businesses" and those locating in the Export Processing Zone.

INFRASTRUCTURE, POWER, AND COMMUNICATIONS

Infrastructure in Mauritius is well-developed. Roads are maintained in very good condition, with 1,834 kilometers (1,139 miles) out of a total of 1,910 kilometers (1,186 miles) of roads being paved. As of the year 2000, the road system is sufficient to hold the country's traffic volume. Less than one-tenth of the population own cars. Meanwhile, several road projects have been planned such as the extension of the roadway from Nouvelle France to Plaine Magnien, the implementation of the South Eastern Highway Project, and the construction of bypasses in areas such as Flacqs, Goodlands, and Triolet. There are no railways in Mauritius. Public transport by bus is reliable and efficient, however.

The harbor of Port Louis was provided with extra capacity in the late 1990s and has been repositioned to handle high traffic and goods volume. The country operates an efficient freeport, which handles about R9 billion worth of trade per year. In volume terms, this is estimated at around 13,000 tons. Mauritius aims to become a major transshipment center, given its location between Africa, Asia, and Australia.

There are currently 5 airports, with 2 of them having paved runways. The main airlines flying to and from Mauritius are Air Mauritius (the national carrier), British Airways, Air France, and South African Airways.

The country has a modernized telecommunications infrastructure. This will be further upgraded with the forging of a partnership with French Telecom. The latter took up a 40 percent (R6.6 billion) shareholding in the local Mauritius Telecoms in the year 2000. This public-private partnership is the first step towards a full liberalization of the industry, in accordance with standards set out by the WTO reform plan of the sector by 2004.

Internet access is reasonably widespread. At present the country has only 6 Internet providers, and over 534 Internet hosts. Countrywide, Internet use is available to about 40,000 people.

Mauritius is a net importer of oil and petroleum. These imports are in refined form and come through the State Trading Corporation. Despite its lack of natural resources, Mauritius is adequately provided for in terms of electricity. About 25 percent of its electricity is derived

Communications
Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Mauritius 75 368 226 N/A 53 24.5 87.1 4.56 55
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
South Africa 32 317 125 N/A 56 3.5 47.4 33.36 1,820
Zimbabwe 19 93 30 N/A 4 N/A 9.0 1.19 20
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium (http://www.isc.org) and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

from hydro-electricity schemes, and the rest from a combination of diesel-powered thermal stations and burning bagasse (sugarcane residue). For its energy, the country is dependent on supplies afforded by the government parastatal called the Central Electricity Board. Electricity production in the late 1990s stood at 34 million kilowatt-hours.

The government is currently looking for substitutive methods of generating energy using woody bio-mass, ethanol from sugarcane, and solar, wind, and sea wave power. Elsewhere efforts are in progress in the development of a renewable fuel plant near Port Louis. Commercial energy is derived from electricity (10.5 percent), coal (5.4 percent) and oil-derived products (84.1 percent).

ECONOMIC SECTORS

The importance of agriculture in the Mauritian economy has been declining over the past 3 decades. Agriculture made up 16 percent of GDP in 1970, declining to 12 percent in 1980, and finally to 9 percent in 1998. This reflects the decreasing dependence of Mauritius on sugar. Furthermore, the share of the labor force in agriculture is much smaller now than it was twenty years ago29 percent of males and 30 percent of females worked in the sector in 1980, while only 15 percent of males and 13 percent of females did so in 1998. The industry is plagued by excess labor demand. According to reports by the Mauritius Cooperative Agricultural Federation, the reasons are that young unemployed people are not eager to work in the fields, and the population is aging.

Industry comprised 33 percent of GDP in 1998, up from 26 percent in 1980. More significantly, 25 percent of GDP came from manufacturing in 1998, compared with 15 percent in 1980. Much of this growth can be attributed to the expansion of the Export Processing Zone sector. The percentage of the male labor force working in industry has increased significantly, from 19 percent (1980) to 39 percent (1992-97). The increase has not been so large for females, however40 percent in 1980 to 43 percent over the period 1992-97. This may in part reflect a diversification away from the textile industry, which tends to employ more females, towards more hightech industries such as information technology.

Services made up 62 percent of GDP in 1980, but declined to 58 percent in 1998. The proportion of men working in the service sector has not changed much46 percent in 1992-97, down from 47 percent in 1980. More females are now working in the service sector, however 45 percent in 1992-97, compared with 31 percent in 1980.

AGRICULTURE

SUGAR.

Sugarcane is still the dominant crop, extending over 90 percent of the cultivated land surface of the country. Twenty-five percent of export earnings come from sugar cane. Per annum sugar production amounts to approximately 630,000 tons. Due to a bad drought, this figure shrunk to 580,000 tons in 1999. As a result the agricultural sector as a whole registered a growth rate of minus 25 percent during this year. The government stepped in to help assist sugar farmers badly hit by low harvest in 1999. It provided a grant of R5,000 per hectare to farmers who experienced losses due to drought and paid a premium for sugar purchase. Mauritius is prone to recurrent cyclonic weather, which can impact the sugarcane crop, and consequently economic growth.

Other sources of export revenue in the agricultural sector include tea, coffee, and tobacco. Tea production and exports decreased dramatically over the period 1995-2000, however. The production of onions, potatoes, maize, poultry, cattle, fish, pulses, bananas, and venison occurs on a small scale, largely for local consumption. Government is also supporting the development of biotechnology and hydroponics.

INDUSTRY

Mauritius's so-called "economic miracle" is largely due to the growth of the manufacturing sector since the inception of the EPZs. The EPZs attracted significant investment from abroad as foreign companies looked for cheaper locations for production. The reduction in unemployment experienced by Mauritius over the last 20 years can generally be attributed to the rapid growth of the EPZs.

The EPZs offer duty-free imports, lower tax rates, subsidized rates on electricity and other utilities, access to credit, favorable transport costs, and institutional support facilities.

Clothing and textiles still form the mainstay of Mauritian industry and dominate the EPZ sector. Mauritian clothing and textiles are competitive, both in terms of price and quality, in foreign markets such as Europe, United States, Japan, Australia, South Africa, and Scandinavian countries.

Growth in the EPZ sector has been slowing since the early 1990s, however, in terms of employment, new investment, and the number of enterprises operating in the sector. Most of the capital in the EPZs is now locally-owned, reflecting declining foreign interest. This is partly due to the fact that wages have risen as a result of full employment, and this in turn has pushed up production costs. Many Mauritian clothing and textile companies are re-locating to cheaper production locations, notably to the nearby island of Madagascar, with which it shares a common language (French) and, to some extent, culture. The focus is also shifting towards high fashion garments as competition in the global market becomes stiffer.

The Mauritian government is also trying to promote a shift towards more high-tech industries, such as electronics, software development, and light engineering. As of the late 1990s, however, Mauritius had not been able to attract the level of foreign investment into these sectors that it had been hoping for. Other industries in Mauritius include food processing (mostly sugar milling), chemicals, metal products, transport equipment, and non-electrical machinery.

SERVICES

TOURISM.

Tourism is a big foreign exchange earner for Mauritius, which has marketed itself as an "exclusive" destination. About 5 percent of GDP is derived from the tourism sector, and revenues currently amount to US$100 million per annum. Most visitors come from Europe 66 percent of the marketwith France and the UK providing 175,400 and 58,700 tourists, respectively. Africa's market share is 27 percent, with tourists coming mainly from South Africa and Reunion Island. About 17,111 people are employed in the tourism sector, 65 percent of these in the hotel industry. There are signs that growth in this sector is slowing: in 1999 the sector grew by just 6 percent, compared to double-digit figures prior to that.

FINANCIAL SERVICES.

Over the past few years, the financial services sector has really stepped up its role in the economy, partly due to government support of the industry. To stimulate the development of the financial sector, the government provides tax incentives for financial institutions under the Pioneer Financial Services Scheme. To date, the industry has grown by over 62 percent, and comprises 13 percent of GDP. The aim is to develop the sector as a major financial center of international repute. Currently there are eleven offshore banks , which offer merchant banking, insurance, fund management, and securities services. Non-residents are the main customers of this sector, often U.S. companies with investments in India. A tax treaty between Mauritius and India creates tax advantages to companies with investments in India that channel their funds through Mauritius.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY.

In early 2001, the government set out its National Information Technology Strategy Plan of establishing the information technology sector as a free trade zone with "digital parks." These parks will consist mainly of sophisticated telecommunications and IT infrastructure as well as enabling hassle-free access to the Internet. According to this plan, it is estimated that IT-penetration will increase to 50 percent and increase PC home ownership to 40 percent by 2005. The government still has to unveil its proposed package of financial incentives that will be offered in this regard.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Being a small island economy with few natural resources, trade is extremely important for Mauritius. Trade comprised 80 percent of GDP in 1970, increasing to 130 percent in 1998.

Mauritius's main export markets are the European Union (notably the United Kingdom, France, and Germany)

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Mauritius
Exports Imports
1975 .298 .330
1980 .431 .609
1985 .436 .523
1990 1.194 1.618
1995 1.538 1.976
1998 1.734 2.183
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

and the United States. Its imports come mainly from South Africa, India, the European Union, and China.

TRADE AGREEMENTS.

Up to the year 2000, Mauritius's major exports, sugar and textiles, have benefitted substantially from preferential trade agreements under which exports from Mauritius face lower duties than those goods from other countries. Most of Mauritius's sugar is now exported to the European Union (EU) under the Sugar Protocol of the Lomé Convention, which allows the country an export quota of 300,000 metric tons, at a price which is generally quite a lot higher than that paid on the world market. Mauritian textiles have also benefitted from preferential access to EU markets, and from the Multi-Fibre Agreement.

However, the Lomé Convention expired in 2000, and the EU has decided to level access to its markets for developing countries, which will erode the preferential treatment received by former EU colonies such as Mauritius. The annual quota assigned to the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries will now be reduced and it is expected that the price received for sugar exports will also fall. This move is expected to hit Mauritius hard, as it is among the top 3 sugar exporters to the EU.

The Multi-Fibre Agreement is being phased out and will come to an end in 2005. The agreement works on a bilateral quota system designed both to protect clothing and textile manufacturers in developed countries and facilitate market access for developing countries. The impact on Mauritius will depend on whether the developed countries continue to try to protect their textile industries. In any event, the termination of the Multi-Fibre Agreement (MFA) is expected to result in intensified global competition in the clothing and textiles industries. As mentioned above, Mauritian clothing and textile companies are already moving to cheaper production locations in order to enhance their competitiveness. The U.S.'s Africa Growth and Opportunities Act is expected to benefit the Mauritian clothing and textile industry, and may mitigate the impact of the phasing out of the MFA.

In the 1970s, Mauritius followed a policy of import substitution, which involved protecting certain domestic industries from outside competition by keeping tariffs at high levels. This policy reduced the country's reliance on outside imports. However, following the global trend, Mauritius began to open up its markets for imports in the 1980s. Mauritius is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and is therefore committed to certain WTO agreements, designed to promote free trade among nations. Mauritius is a member of the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Indian Ocean Commission.

MONEY

The country's central bank is the Bank of Mauritius, while the commercial banking system is dominated by 2 banks, the Mauritius Commercial Bank and the State Bank of Mauritius. There are a number of other, smaller, banks in operation, however. There is an extensive ATM network across the island, and ATM-sharing mechanisms are now in place. Progress has also been made with regard to developing a better, electronically-based, national payment system.

The Mauritian Rupee has decreased in the value relative to the U.S. dollar, with the decline being fairly marked over the period 1996-98, where it depreciated by an average of 10.5 percent per year. There have been no dramatic devaluations or currency crises in the history of the country, however. Inflation , too, has remained at manageable levels, averaging 7.6 percent between 1990 and 1999.

There are no exchange controls in Mauritius, which means that both foreigners and locals can take an unlimited amount of money out of the country if they wish to do so.

The Stock Exchange of Mauritius (SEM) has been in operation since 1989. Its market capitalization is currently around US$1,643 million, with 48 listed companies. There are a further 80 companies listed on the "overthe-counter"

Exchange rates: Mauritius
Mauritian rupees per US$1
Jan 2001 27.900
2000 26.250
1999 25.186
1998 22.993
1997 21.057
1996 17.948
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].
GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Mauritius 1,531 1,802 2,151 2,955 4,034
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
South Africa 4,574 4,620 4,229 4,113 3,918
Comoros N/A 499 544 516 403
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

market. The trading activity taking place has increased substantially over the years, although it is still low by international standards.

POVERTY AND WEALTH

All Mauritians have benefitted from the country's prolonged economic growth, particularly from the significant reduction in unemployment. A 1992 national survey found that 10.6 percent of the population was living below the poverty line. World Bank estimates put the poverty rate in 1999 at about 5 percent, however. These figures are difficult to compare across countries, since different countries have different definitions of poverty. Primary school enrolment is now close to 100 percent, up from 79 percent in 1980. Education and health care are free, and all Mauritians have access to safe water and sanitation. Life expectancy has also increased from 66 years in 1980 to 71 in 1998. According to the CIA World Factbook, life expectancy is now 75 years for females and 67 years for males.

However, poverty and wealth are still delineated to some extent along racial lines. Descendants of the French plantation owners still control a major portion of the economy, in spite of the fact that they only comprise 2 percent of the population. The Creoles, on the other hand, are the ethnic group which faces the greatest hardships. The recent increase in unemployment may rekindle the racial tensions which seemed to disappear during Mauritius's prosperous years.

WORKING CONDITIONS

Trade unions are permitted in Mauritius and trade union membership stood at 106,000 in 1995, representing about 29 percent of wage and salary earners. Trade union activity has decreased as the population has become wealthier and unemployment has declined. Over the period 1990-1995, there were between 4 and 9 strikes annually.

The steady rise in unemployment between 1996 and 1999 signifies that much still has to be done to improve the skills profile of the workforce. As of 2000, the demand for skilled workers outstripped the supply, especially in fields such as marketing, management, accounting, and computing.

Women make up about 27 percent workforce, a relatively low proportion by international standards, although female labor force participation has increased since 1980. Women earn on average about half of what their male counterparts earn. The state provides welfare payments for the unemployed, and there is a social aid scheme for poor families. There is also a national pension scheme.

COUNTRY HISTORY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

1510. Portuguese visit Mauritius, then an uninhabited island.

1598. Dutch settle on the island, introducing sugar cane.

1710. Dutch leave the island for the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

1715. French occupy the island. The building of the harbor of Port Louis, which then becomes the capital, takes place.

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Mauritius 21 8 13 3 13 10 32
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
South Africa N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Comoros N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

1810. British conquer the island.

1814. Mauritius formally ceded to the British in the Treaty of Paris. However, most of the French settlers remain on the island and are allowed to keep their customs, religions, and laws. The French plantation aristocracy retain their economic prominence and few British people come to the colony.

1835. Britain abolishes slavery (slaves had mainly come from Madagascar, Senegal, and Mozambique), amid much resistance from French plantation owners. This leads to importation of about 500,000 Indian indentured laborers to work in the sugar cane fields. The rapid development of infrastructure takes place and the British begin to provide free primary education.

1860s. The sugar economy begins to decline, due to increased sugar production in other countries and resultant lower prices. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 shifts trade routes away from the Indian Ocean.

1917. Indenture system formally ends.

1959. First elections under universal suffrage are held.

1968. Mauritius achieves independence. The country adopts a constitution based on British parliamentary system. A few weeks before independence, violence between Creoles and Muslims leaves 25 people dead and hundreds injured.

1970. Enactment of the Export Processing Zones Act.

1971. The Militant Movement of Mauritius (MMM) calls a number of debilitating strikes. A coalition government led by the Mauritius Labor Party (MLP; headed by Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam) promulgates the Public Order Act which bans many forms of political activity. A state of emergency lasts until 1976.

1982. MMM-led government gains power in elections, with Anerood Jugnauth as Prime Minister and Paul Bérenger as Finance Minister.

1983. Ruling coalition breaks up and new elections are held. Jugnauth's new party, the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM), joins with the MLP and the Mauritian Social Democrat Party to win the election comfortably.

1991. A coalition between the MSM and MMM wins the elections.

1992. The constitution is amended to make Mauritius a republic with the British Commonwealth.

2000. Anerood Jugnauth is reelected president as head of a coalition between the MSM and MMM.

FUTURE TRENDS

The World Bank notes that Mauritius faces several challenges in the near future due to rising unemployment and increasing external competition for export markets. These are: to improve the economic growth rate through higher productivity, to raise skill levels through better education, to encourage investment in new industries, and to reform the civil service. Reform of the education system in particular is a priority, since an increasing number of young people are entering the job market without the requisite qualifications. At the same time, the government is focusing on small and medium-sized enterprises as a strategy for promoting economic growth and unemployment.

The recent setback in economic growth has spurred an internal campaign against poverty on the island, resulting in the establishment of the Mauritius Trust Fund. The Trust will use its US$1.5 million budget to fund over 270 projects across the island and also in the neighboring Rodrigues Island. These projects are directed at infrastructure, education, social cohesion through social and cultural programs, as well as coordination of different programs of action. Also, the combined efforts of the Mauritian Women and Family Welfare Ministry are spreading a message to women to end poverty through education.

For business, however, the mood is optimistic. It is estimated that close to 53 percent of the population expects the volume of production and services to increase in the year 2001, according to local surveys.

DEPENDENCIES

Mauritius has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Businessmap. SADC Investor Survey: Complex Terrain. Johannesburg, South Africa: Businessmap, 2000.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Mauritius. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

International Labor Organization. World Labor Report. Geneva, Switzerland: ILO, 1997.

Library of Congress. Mauritius: A Country Study. <http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/es/mutoc.html>. Accessed August 2001.

Maurinet. "Mauritian History."<http://www.maurinet.com/history.html>. Accessed August 2001.

"Mauritius: Overview." Mbendi: Information for Africa. <http://www.mbendi.co.za/land/af/mr/p0005.htm>. Accessed August 2001.

Pochun, Jairaz. "Policies to Facilitate Trade and Investment inSouthern Africa." In International Monetary Fund/Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Regional Economic Integration and the Globalisation Process. Windhoek, Namibia: Gamsberg Macmillan, 1998.

South African National Treasury. Regional Economic Review. Pretoria, South Africa: FISCU, 2000.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html>. Accessed August 2001.

U.S. Department of State. FY 1998 Country Commercial Guide: Mauritius. <http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/business/com_guides/1998/africa/mauritius98.html>. Accessed August 2001.

World Bank. The World Bank Group Countries: Mauritius. <http://www.worldbank.org/afr/mu2.htm>. Accessed August 2001.

Rosalind Mowatt

CAPITAL:

Port Louis.

MONETARY UNIT:

Mauritian rupee (R). One Mauritian rupee equals 100 cents. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents and 1 rupee, and notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000.

CHIEF EXPORTS:

Clothing and textiles, sugar, cut flowers, molasses.

CHIEF IMPORTS:

Manufactured goods, capital equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:

US$12.3 billion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).

BALANCE OF TRADE:

Exports: US$1.7 billion (f.o.b., 1999). Imports: US$2.1 billion (c.i.f., 1999).

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Mauritius

MAURITIUS

Major City:
Port Louis, Curepipe

Other Cities:
Beau Bassin-Rose Hill, Mahébourg, Pamplemousses, Quatre Bornes, Vacoas-Phoenix

EDITOR'S NOTE

This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated July 1993. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at http://travel.state.gov/ for the most recent information available on travel to this country.

INTRODUCTION

Although comparable to the neighboring island of Madagascar, the country of MAURITIUS defies precise classification. It is not African, although it lies close to that continent and seeks regional ties with itnor can the island be considered Asian, notwithstanding the obvious Indian and Chinese influence. And, despite more than 300 years of European colonial domination, Mauritius is definitely not European.

When Portuguese navigators first visited Mauritius in the 15th century, they found the island completely uninhabited. The Dutch came during the 17th century and named it for Prince Maurice of Nassau. The French renamed the island Île de France after settling here in 1715, and it became an important stop on the way to India. The French also introduced sugarcane cultivation, importing African slaves to work on the plantations. After the British captured the island in 1810, its Dutch name was restored, and laborers were brought from India.

Unlike Madagascar, no ethnic group is indigenous to the island. The ancestors of the present inhabitants, therefore, considered themselves to be Franco-, Indo-, Anglo-, or Sino-Mauritians. Today Mauritius remains a unique blend of many cultures.

MAJOR CITIES

Port Louis

Port Louis, capital of Mauritius and its largest city, lies at sea level on the northwestern coast, within a semicircle of mountains. It is one of the oldest towns on the island, and the center of industry and trade.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the French, Dutch, and British vied for Mauritius as a port of call. After the French East India Company took possession in 1715, a settlement was established at Port Louis, which was named for the French king, Louis XIV. It served as an important naval base for French operations against the British.

Since the 18th century, Port Louis harbor has been the center of commercial activity. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, however, considerably reduced the importance of Mauritius' position on the trade route around the Cape of Good Hope. When the Suez Canal was closed between 1967 and 1975, the harbor of Port Louis was again heavily used. In 1974, more than 1,200 ships were loaded and unloaded in Port Louis, compared to an average of 700 a year before the canal was closed. Since World War II, Mauritius has become a communications center on the air route between Australia and South Africa.

About 165,000 people live in Port Louis. In the late 1860s, malaria hit the low-lying areas and was responsible for the town's decline and the exodus of its wealthier inhabitants to the uplands. Although malaria has now been eradicated, Europeans and foreigners continue to live in the residential areas surrounding the Curepipe Plateau.

Port Louis has a new Legislative Assembly building and a government center flanking its stately 18th-century Government House. A university, founded in 1965, is also located here in the capital.

Education

Almost all Mauritian educational institutions follow British lines, except for the French Government-supported Labourdonnais Lycée and Colleges. Primary education (grades one through six, or up to age 11 or 12) and secondary education (to completion of exams) are distinctly divided.

Pupils earn ordinary-level (equivalent to the U.S. high school diploma) and advanced-level (college preparatory) Cambridge School certificates. The official language of instruction is English, and most textbooks are printed in the United Kingdom. In actuality, however, a large part of classroom instruction and explanation is in French/Creole, the common language of most Mauritians.

For primary-school children, the Catholic-run Loreto Convent Schools, located at various places on the island, are popular and offer primarily English-language instruction. The small, nondenominational Alexandra House School in Vacoas more closely resembles an English grammar school; resident Americans have used Alexandra House frequently, and have found that the small classes and lack of spoken Creole allow an easier environment in which U.S. children can adjust.

Boys of secondary-school age attend Royal College (Curepipe and Port Louis), St. Esprit in Quatre Bornes, and St. Joseph's in Curepipe, all of which have good academic reputations. St. Esprit is Catholic, and Royal College is Mauritian administered. For girls, several Loreto Convent Schools and Queen Elizabeth College in Rose Hill are available; all have good standards and are considered the best of their type on the island.

Facilities at these schools are adequate, but not modern. Books and materials are either available at the schools or can be purchased locally. Uniforms, required at all except the French school, are available locally at reasonable prices. Physical education and other special interest classes are available. Few, if any, schools on the island have buses or lunchrooms.

Generally, U.S. children with experience in only English-language environments have been able to adjust to the Mauritian system of education. The fact that French and Creole are widely spoken in the schools requires a period of adjustment, but also presents an excellent opportunity to experience new languages.

Examination results on the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Cambridge exams among the island's school population are low (50 percent with passing scores). This may be attributed to overcrowding and a lack of well-trained teachers. Although the standard of education in Mauritius has declined in recent years, it is still sufficiently high to allow equivalent transfers to most other school systems. To compensate for deficiencies, students can easily arrange for private tutoring for a nominal fee. The Cambridge and baccalaureate certificates are recognized worldwide.

Recreation

Few places in the world offer more beautiful beaches or better opportunities for swimming. There is no danger from sharks in most areas, since the island is largely surrounded by a coral reef which encloses lagoons of brilliant, clear blue water. Mauritius is known as a skin diver's paradise; the variety of its underwater life is unparalleled. The sea is exceptionally rich in fauna and in historic shipwrecks. Collectors will discover many rare species of seashells found only in Mauritius. Surfing is popular at Tamarin Bay on the west coast, where Indian Ocean swells break on one of the island's most beautiful sandy beaches. Facilities for water-skiing are available at reasonable prices at all resort hotels on the bay. Many people own their own boats and equipment. Good swimming and sports activities are offered by beach hotels, including La Pirogue, St. Geran, and the Touessrok, which has its own private island.

It is possible to fish with a rod and line almost anywhere on the island. Every coastal village has fishermen whose picturesque pirogues can be hired with motor or sail for a small fee. Several world records are held in Mauritius, and deep-sea boats based at Morne Brabant Hotel offer big-game fishing at reasonable prices. The private Morne Anglers' Club has its headquarters at Black River on the southwest side of the island. The Grand Baie Yacht Club and the Morne Anglers' Club organize class sailing races. The visitor may rent dinghies at Le Morne and Le Chaland hotels. Both places have ample water and good sea breezes. Pirogues can be built inexpensively, and sailing craft are sometimes sold.

Mauritius has beautiful mountains and forests, perfect for hiking. The cliffs on the south coast of the island are magnificent, and offer seemingly endless opportunities for walking and picnicking.

There is an 18-hole golf course at the Gymkhana Club, the former British naval station, at Vacoas. Le Morne, St. Geran, and Trou-aux-Biches hotels also have courses in delightful settings close to the ocean. Tennis is played almost all year, and includes lawn tennis and hard-court championships. A squash court, swimming, and a clubhouse with bar and dining room are available at the Gymkhana Club.

The horse racing season lasts from May to October. The Mauritius Turf Club, founded in 1812, is the oldest racing club south of the equator. Local race horses have been imported from the U.K., France, Australia, and South Africa; stables are reinforced by new arrivals every year.

Riding instruction (in French) is available at Club Hippique d'Île Maurice in Floreal. Jumping events are held here several times a year. Riding dress requires jodhpurs or breeches, except that children ordinarily ride in jeans or slacks and a hunt cap. Le Chaland Hotel gives private riding lessons with English instruction.

Association football (soccer) is the national sport. Basketball, tennis, hockey, and volleyball are played in the schools and at various sports clubs on the island.

The island has many beautiful gardens with statues of Mauritians renowned for their political and literary achievements. Some of the most spectacular scenery is on the southern coast. It is pleasant to drive along the coastal road and stop to dine or swim at either Le Morne Hotel on the southwest coast or Le Chaland on the southeast. At La Nicoliere reservoir, on the far side of Long Mountain, there is a view of the entire north and east coastline and its many small, picturesque fishing villages. Europe, Australia, or Africa are only hours away by regularly scheduled flights, but fares are expensive.

The Mauritius Institute Museum is located just behind the docks in Port Louis. It has a small collection on natural history which describes the zoology and geology of the region, including the dodo bird, last seen alive on the island in 1681. The Sugar Institute, where important world sugar research is conducted, is just outside of the capital, as is the Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Hindu culture, an endowment of the Indian Government.

Lists of hotels and their rates may be obtained through the Mauritius Government Tourist Office, Cerné House, La Chaussée, Port Louis, Mauritius. Arrangements for visits to sugar plantations and mills, and information on museums are available here.

Other possibilities for exploring the island include visits to Casela Bird Park, in the southwest, with its 142 species of birds and its lovely scenery; the aquarium in the north, near the Trou-aux-Biches Hotel; and the volcano at Trou aux Cerfs on the central plateau.

Mauritius has a few good restaurants and nightclubs. The resort hotels have bars and bands, and there is dancing at least once a week. Hotels show old English-language movies on a rotating schedule, and a few movie theaters show French-language films, although these rarely are dubbed in English. The Gymkhana Club, however, does have English or American films from time to time. Several amateur theater clubs offer occasional productions, and dances and balls for charitable purposes are held frequently. Curepipe and a number of the resort hotels have casinos.

For the most part, social entertaining is done in the home. The few organized activities center around private clubs, where membership can be obtained without difficulty. Dues are reasonable, and no particular dress restrictions are imposed, except that whites are preferred for tennis and English saddles and attire are used for riding.

Curepipe

Curepipe is a commercial town and health resort, about 15 miles up the central plateau from Port Louis. Among its many attractions are the municipal gardens; several interesting colonial buildings; casinos; and an extinct volcano at Trou aux Cerfs, just outside of town. The current population of Curepipe is close to 74,200.

The Hotel Continental, rising above a street-level arcade of shops, is spacious and quiet, and one of the popular spots for foreigners in the city. Most social activity, however, centers around private clubs or the home. Minibus tours of the countryside can be arranged in Curepipe; a 50-mile trip southward through Souillac and Rose Hill, with side trips on foot and by taxi, is quite inexpensive.

Education

The Lycée Labourdonnais, a French Government-supported primary school (kindergarten through grade five), follows the French educational system. All instruction is in that language. Labourdonnais maintains high standards and is an excellent school for children who either speak, or wish to learn, French.

Labourdonnais College is the secondary division of the French school, and offers the baccalaureate certificate, which is equivalent to, or higher than, a high school diploma. The school is coeducational, of high standard, and all classes and books are in French.

St. Joseph's College and Royal College are boys' schools for secondary-level students. St. Joseph's is administered by the Catholic Brothers of Ireland, who also run schools in the U.S. under the name of Christian Brothers. Teaching standards at both institutions are good.

OTHER CITIES

BEAU BASSIN-ROSE HILL , with a population of approximately 94,000, is the second largest settlement in Mauritius. Beau Bassin and Rose Hill were once separate communities, but merged several years ago. The town is a marketing and shopping center and is the home of the British Council Library.

MAHÉBOURG (population approximately 14,000) lies on the southeast coast of the island, diametrically across from Port Louis. Once the main port, Mahébourg is of interest to those who enjoy sailing ships. The Historical Museum, housed in an old mansion, is also located here; visits are free, but donations are requested.

PAMPLEMOUSSES is a town 20 miles northeast of Port Louis, known for its beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens. The gardens were founded in 1768 by Pierre Poivre, a pirate, who brought spice trees such as cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg to the island from the East Indies. There are also several varieties of palms and water lilies500 woody plant species in alland animals such as deer and tortoise.

QUATRE BORNES , with a population of about 71,000 (2000 estimate) is an independently administered city in the western highlands of Mauritius, nine miles from the capital. The city's French name, meaning Four Boundaries, comes from the stones that once marked the limits of four sugar estates in the area. Sugarcane is still a major crop here. A middle-class, fast-growing, urban city, Quatre Bornes has a large hospital and surfaced roads. Its municipal infrastructure includes a town council.

Located roughly 10 miles south of Port Louis, VACOAS-PHOENIX were two separate villages until they merged in 1963. The town has several small industries such as vegetable canning, beer brewing, and garment manufacturing. Sugarcane and vegetables are grown in areas surrounding Vacoas-Phoenix and are often sold here. A major highway links Vacoas-Phoenix and Port Louis. The estimated population in 2000 was approximately 91,200.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Geography and Climate

The beautiful island of Mauritius, almost completely surrounded by coral reefs, lies in the southwest Indian Ocean just within the Tropic of Capricorn, about 1,250 miles from the African coast. Of volcanic origin, it is about 40 miles long and 30 miles wide, with an area of 720 square miles. In the center, an extensive plateau rises to a level of some 1,900 feet. Three mountain ranges border the central tableland.

Mauritius has a maritime climate, with a slight difference between tropical summer and subtropical winter. In contrast, the coastal areas are warm and dry, while cool and rainy weather prevails inland. Humidity is high, and the annual rainfall along the western slopes of the central plateau totals nearly 200 inches. The rainy and dry seasons are not well-defined, and the vegetation remains green throughout the year. Mildew is a year-round problem, particularly in summer. Cyclones threaten between November and April.

Population

The island's population is estimated at slightly more than one million. It is one of the most densely populated agricultural areas in the world, with 1,597 persons per square mile (2000 estimate). The population growth rate of about three percent a year in the early 1960s has declined, and was 0.88 percent in 2001. 26 percent of the total population is under 15. The labor force was approximately 514,000. With some encouragement from the government, emigration from Mauritius is increasing. Job opportunities in Arab countries also are attracting more Mauritian workers each year.

The ethnic composition of Mauritius resulted from the historical needs of the sugar industry, which dominates the local economy. Some 27 percent of the people are Creoledescendants of Europeans and African slaves who were the first to exploit the island's potential. The Creoles are mainly clerical, commercial, and professional workers, and are usually urban or coastal dwellers. Indo-Mauritians now comprise 68 percent of the population; they are the descendants of indentured Indian labor brought to Mauritius to work in the sugar fields after slavery was abolished in 1833. They live mostly in the countryside and are still the main labor source in the sugar industry. Most Muslim Indians have become traders and industrial workers. About three percent of the population are Chinese, a group primarily engaged in retail trade. The 20,000 whites, nearly all Franco-Mauritian, are the elite. They own most of the sugar estates and many of the large commercial firms. Despite these various cultural backgrounds, the island retains a distinctly French cultural flavor, reflecting 18th-century French rule.

Government

After 158 years as a crown colony, Mauritius became an independent country within the Commonwealth on March 12, 1968.

The cabinet system was adopted in 1957, and universal adult suffrage was introduced two years later. For electoral purposes, the country is divided into 21 constituencies which elect a total of 62 members to the National Assembly (plus up to eight "best losers" to help maintain the communal balance). The Council of Ministers, presided over by the prime minister, is the supreme policy-making body and is responsible to the Assembly. In 19992, Mauritius became a republic. Acting president is Ariranga Govidasamy Pillay and Anerood Jugnauth is the prime minister.

Mauritius is a member of the United Nations and the Commonwealth of Nations. It maintains diplomatic relations with 57 countries, including the following which maintain resident embassies in or near Port Louis: Australia, the People's Republic of China, Egypt, France, India, Korea, Madagascar, Pakistan, the U.K., the U.S., and the former U.S.S.R.

The flag of Mauritius consists of red, blue, yellow, and green horizontal divisions.

Arts, Science, Education

An interest in arts and letters has existed in Mauritius since the 18th century. The island has produced talented poets and novelists, and the work of one historian is recognized as authoritative throughout the world. As early as the 18th century, actors from France performed plays in Port Louis. Today, although overseas theater and opera troupes come here infrequently, many islanders attend high-standard performances given by local amateur drama groups. Lectures, art exhibits, and concerts of varying quality are other activities which give Mauritius a unique flavor of both Eastern and Western culture in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Representative and abstract painting flourishes; local authorities provide art courses to initiate interested young people. The island has a musical society and several active historical societies. The Mauritius Archives is one of the oldest organizations of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. The Mauritius Institute, founded in 1880, comprises a natural history museum, public library, small art gallery, and historical museum at Mahébourg.

Mauritius' efficient Sugar Industry Research Institute is a world-acclaimed organization providing improved varieties of cane. It also pursues research on fertilizers, herbicides, pest and disease control, irrigation practices, and sugar technology.

Demands are high for widespread, free primary and secondary education. Literacy was estimated at approximately 94 percent and, although education is not compulsory, about 95 percent of children of primary school age attended schools. Mauritius maintains an Industrial Trade Training Centre; the College of Education, which trains primary school teachers; and the Institute of Education, which prepares teachers for secondary schools. The University of Mauritius is concerned with agriculture, technology, education, and administration, and currently is developing its curriculum and student body. Most Mauritians obtain their university degrees in the United Kingdom, France, India, or the United States.

Commerce and Industry

The Mauritian economy depends heavily on the sugar industry. Sugar grows on 90 percent of the arable land and accounts for about 25 percent of export earnings. The island produces from 500,000 to 700,000 tons of sugar annually. As an associate member of the European Community (EC), Mauritius has an annual export quota of about 500,000 metric tons to the EC countries at a guaranteed price.

Because of the island's vulnerability to cyclones, nonsugar agriculture (vegetables and fruit) is small; the country imports most of its daily food requirements. However, the government has a determined policy of diversifying agriculture to reverse traditional dependence on exported sugar and imported food.

To diversify the economy and create jobs, Mauritius launched, in the early 1970s, the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) scheme for firms manufacturing exclusively for export. With the establishment of the EPZ, the manufacturing sector (excluding sugar milling) has greatly increased its economic importance. About 29 percent of recorded employment is in the manufacturing establishments. EPZ firms concentrate on textile products, especially knitwear; Mauritius is currently the world's third largest exporter of knitwear.

Tourism also developed rapidly during the 1970s to become the island's third-largest source of foreign exchange earnings by the end of the decade, drawing almost half of its visitors from Europe. More than 250,000 tourists visit Mauritius each year.

The bulk of Mauritian imports consists of food, petroleum products, machinery and transport equipment, chemicals and fertilizers, cement, iron and steel, and crude vegetable oil. The imports come mainly from EC countries, South Africa, the U.K., and the U.S., except petroleum products, which are brought from Bahrain and Kuwait.

The economy suffered in the 1980's because of low world sugar prices. The economy has experience high growth, averaging 6 percent, since.

The Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry is located at 3 Royal St., Port Louis; telephone: 2083301; telex: 4277; FAX: 2080076.

Transportation

Regular flights operate to and from Europe, eastern and southern Africa, India, and Australia. Schedules change frequently, however, and airline offices should be consulted for current information. Occasional passenger ships stop at Mauritius on cruises, and some cargo ships carry passengers to Africa and Australia.

The island has neither railroads nor streetcars, and buses are crowded and slow. Local taxi service is generally safe and adequate. Taxis are not metered, but fares are supposedly based on mileage, using the odometer as a gauge. Overcharges can be avoided by agreeing on a price beforehand.

The roads in Mauritius are usually paved, but not well maintained. In 1989, the World Bank approved a loan of $30 million for the resurfacing of 110 miles (175 kilometers) of roadway. Driving can be hazardous because of pedestrians, carts, and animals moving along the sides of narrow roads, and the recklessness of many drivers. Local driver's licenses will be issued to those with valid foreign permits. Liability insurance is required by law, and a discount is given with proof of a safe-driving record.

Communications

Telephone service is poor for most of the island. The beach resort hotels have telephones, and outlying police stations will deliver urgent messages. The international circuit is open on a 24-hour basis, but calls often take 15 to 30 minutes to place. Connections are good, and all calls are automatically person-to-person. Collect calls cannot be made or received.

Reliable worldwide telegraph service is available. International airmail between Mauritius and the U.S. takes five to 10 days, depending on destination, and the mail is neither restricted nor censored.

The Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) operates on medium-wave radio and one television band. It broadcasts in French, English, Hindi, and Chinese. English-language news is broadcast daily by TV and radio. Some English, American, and French TV films are aired, with many of the former two dubbed in French. TV sets can be purchased or rented inexpensively. Sets properly equipped with boosters or good antennas (available locally) can receive telecasts from the French overseas channel, RFO, on Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean; RFO provides daily news coverage from Paris.

International editions of Time and Newsweek are available at local newsstands within a few days of publication. No local press is written exclusively in English. The chief French-language dailies print mostly local news and advertising; they do, however, cover some international news, and a few articles are in English. Reuters and Agence France Press news bulletins are received by the U.S. Embassy in Port Louis.

Health

Private medical facilities in Mauritius are generally adequate for routine cases, although they do not measure up to U.S. standards of efficiency, organization, or sophistication of equipment. Doctors and surgeons are capable of coping with emergencies; unfortunately, however, inadequate nursing care and staff sometimes make the system uncertain.

The three large, government-owned and-operated hospitals have satisfactory equipment and personnel, but are unpopular because of overcrowding (medical care is free for all Mauritians). Although the Ramgoolam Hospital, a government facility in the northern part of the island, has a basic intensive-care unit, it is considered too far from most American residences in the Floreal/Vacoas plateau region.

Most physicians have been trained in Europe and India. Many are government doctors with private practices in their specialties. In general, local physicians are well trained, but their efficiency is often hampered by inadequately trained support personnel, unavailable strategic equipment and supplies, heavy patient loads, and lack of in-country instruction to stay abreast of medical advances and technology. Cultural dissimilarities also account for differing attitudes toward patient care, devotion to duty, and other Hippocratic-oath standards normally expected by Americans.

Dental service is somewhat expensive. As in the case of physicians, some dentists may be out of touch with modern equipment and dental practices, and their care is not up to U.S. standards. They should be selected with discrimination. Although Mauritius itself has no orthodontist, a good one is in practice on Réunion Island. Long delays often are experienced in trying to arrange dental appointments.

Pharmacies are numerous and fairly well stocked. However, most brands of medicines are European-manufactured and may be unfamiliar to Americans. Prices are reasonable. All main towns have several pharmacies; a few are open on Sundays and local holidays.

Mauritius has no serious endemic diseases or health hazards. Except for an occasional bout of dysentery or influenza, most resident Americans find the island healthful. The constant high humidity may, however, affect persons with arthritic conditions. Malaria suppressants are recommended for all residents, especially those who live near the coast. Hay fever and sinusitis sufferers are affected during July and August when the sugarcane is in flower.

Parasites and dysentery are common, but usually can be prevented by careful preparation and storage of food, the boiling of drinking water, and the use of patent medicines. Gamma globulin and tetanus inoculations are recommended before arrival. While infectious hepatitis, poliomyelitis, and typhoid and paratyphoid fever occur intermittently, they can be countered by immunizations at regular intervals.

NOTES FOR TRAVELERS

Travel to Mauritius from the U.S. is by two basic alternate routes. The first is via Europe, the other via the South Atlantic and South Africa. Planes arrive daily. The ocean port of entry is Port Louis.

American citizens do not need visas to enter Mauritius, but valid immunization certificates are required. In countries where Mauritius does not maintain an embassy, visas may be obtained through British consular offices.

Pets are allowed to enter Mauritius only if accompanied by import permits; applications are to be made beforehand to the Veterinary Department, Ministry of Agriculture, Le Réduit. Dogs and cats are required to undergo six months' quarantine in government kennels from the date of their arrival, and all expenses are charged to the owner. During this period, only adult owners may check on their animals, and at fixed hours. The quarantine kennels, at Le Réduit, about seven miles from downtown Port Louis, are clean and modern, and have a government veterinarian in daily attendance.

The time in Mauritius is Greenwich Mean Time plus four.

The unit of currency is the Mauritian rupee (Re, plural Rs), which is divided into 100 cents. Branches of Citibank N.A. and Barclays Bank International are located in Port Louis.

Mauritius uses the English system of weights and measures. Gasoline is sold by the imperial gallon.

LOCAL HOLIDAYS

Jan. 1 & 2 New Year's Day

Jan/Feb. Chinese New Year & Spring Festival*

Jan/Feb. Thaipoosam Cavadee*

Feb/Mar. Maha Shivaratree*

Mar. 12 Independence Day

Mar/Apr. Good Friday*

Mar/Apr. Easter*

Mar/Apr. Ougadi*

May 1 Labor Day

Aug/SeptGanesh Chaturthi*

Sept 9Father Leval Day

Nov. 1All Saints' Day

Oct/Nov. Divali*

Dec. 25 Christmas Day

Id al-Adha*

Ramadan*

Id al-Fitr*

*variable

RECOMMENDED READING

The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Bowman, Larry W. Mauritius: Democracy and Development in the Indian Ocean. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1991.

Chandrasekhar, S. The Population of Mauritius. La Jolla, CA: Population Review Books, 1990.

DeMarigny, Isabelle D. et al. Living in Mauritius. New York: Thames Hudson, 1990.

Gulhati, Ravi. Mauritius: Managing Success. Washington, DC: World Bank, 1990.

Gulhati, Ravi. Successful Stabilization and Recovery in Mauritius. World Bank, 1990.

Hidebrand Travel Guides. Mauritius. Rev. ed. Edison, NJ: Hunter Publishing NY, 1988.

Selvon, Sydney. Historical Dictionary of Mauritius. 2nd ed. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1991.

Willcox, Robert. Mauritius, Reunion & the Seychelles: A Travel Survival Kit. Oakland, CA: Lonely Planet, 1989.

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Mauritius

Mauritius

Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of Mauritius
Region (Map name): Africa
Population: 1,179,368
Language(s): English, Creole, French, Hindi, Urdu, Hakka, Bojpoori
Literacy rate: 82.9%

Background & General Characteristics

A small island nation, located east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, having a population of slightly more than 1.1 million, Mauritius is a stable democracy based on a plural society of several ethnic communities, including three main ones: Indians (Hindus and Muslims), Chinese, and Creoles. Citizens of Indian origin are divided among Hindus (52 percent) and Muslims (16 percent); Christians total about 28 percent, and Buddhists and others about 2 percent. Chinese residents are usually either Buddhist or Catholic. Creoles are mostly of French mixed descent and follow the Catholic faith.

Because of its history, English and French influences are evident, with French preferred over English. This is seen also in the circulation of newspapers in the two languages.

Mauritius is internationally regarded as a functioning democracy with a commendable record of regular fair and free elections and a fairly good human rights record as well. It boasts the highest per capita income in Africa.

Historical Traditions

Mauritius was a British colony before it attained independence on March 12, 1968. The island was first discovered by Arab explorers in 975 A.D. Among the European powers, it first came under Portuguese control in 1505. By the end of the sixteenth century, Mauritius fell under Dutch authority when, in 1598, the Dutch Admiral Van Warwyck landed his fleet in a bay on the southeast end of the island and named it after himself; Warwick Bay was later renamed Grand Port. Van Warwyck named the island Mauritius after Prince Mauritius Van Nassau, the stadhouder of the Netherlands at that time. Although Dutch ships on the way to the Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia) occasionally stopped in Warwick Bay for shelter, food, and fresh water, there was no serious effort to develop the island.

In September 1715, Guillaume Dufresne d'Arsel occupied Mauritius in the name of French King Louis XV, naming it Ile de France. Warwyck Bay was renamed Port Bourbon and a little used dock in the northwest was named Port Louis.

The transformation of Port Louis into a thriving sea port was the work of Bertrand Mahe de Labourdonnais, who, in the 1740s, built forts, barracks, warehouses, hospitals, and houses. Roads were built throughout the island, and a shipbuilding industry was founded. The French period also marked the beginning of the island's sugar industry and the importation of African slaves.

In 1785, Ile de France became the headquarters of all the French possessions east of Cape Horn. During the Napoleonic wars, the British occupied Mauritius in 1810. The Treaty of Paris restored most of the former French possessions to the Bourbon King of France, but not Mauritius, which remained a British possession.

Under the British, the sugar industry experienced rapid growth as an export crop. In addition, although the slave trade was abolished in 1807 and slavery itself in 1833, plantation owners in Mauritius kept both practices alive until 1835. Even then, it took a payment of 2 million pounds to the owners to get them to abide by abolition. In the following years, the British encouraged thousands of Indians, both Hindus and Muslims, to migrate to Mauritius as indentured laborers. That process continued until 1907 when indentured labor was also abolished.

During World War II, Mauritius became important to the war effort because of its strategic location. The British based their fleet at Port Louis and Grand Port and built an airport at Plaisance and a sea plane base at Baie du Tombeau. During the war, a large telecommunications facility was built at Vacoas.

The Republic of Mauritius is a parliamentary democracy, governed by a prime minister, a council of ministers, and a National Assembly with 62 elected members and 4 others nominated by the election commission from the losing political parties to give representation to ethnic minorities. Assembly members serve five-year terms. The president and vice-president are elected by the National Assembly, also for five years. National and local elections, supervised by an independent commission, take place at regular intervals.

Politics did not become an important part of island life until 1936, when the Labour Party was founded. After World War II, the Mauritius Labour Party (MLP) won the majority of seats in the Legislative Council established under the 1948 constitution. By 1959, the party had gained wide acceptance, and that year, MLP leader Dr. (later Sir) Seewoosagur Ramgoolam was elected Chief Minister. In 1965 he became Prime Minister, a post he held until 1982. During Ramgoolam's administration, Mauritius became an independent country within the Commonwealth of Nations in 1968; in 1992, it became a republic.

The island's politics were marred by violence when the Mouvement Militant Mauricien (MMM), under the leadership of Franco-Mauritian Paul Berenger, gained power in the elections of 1982. With Berenger as the MMM's General Secretary, and Hindu British-trained lawyer Anerood Jugnauth serving as President, the MMM captured all 62 seats in the legislature. Jagnauth became Prime Minister and Berenger his Finance Minister. In elections held September 17, 2000, Jugnauth retained his post as Prime Minister, with Berenger as his Deputy Prime Minister.

Print Media

The oldest newspaper published in Africa was in Mauritius: Le Cerneen, which was a French-language organ of the sugar industry. The second oldest daily in Mauritius, also in French, was first published in 1908 to represent the interests of the Creole community.

The growing numbers of immigrant Chinese and Indian laborers and their descendants produced the first Chinese paper, Chinese Daily News, in 1932, and the first Indian daily, Advance, in 1939. Improved literacy and the people's growing interest in politics led to more dailies: China Times (1953), New Chinese Commercial Paper (1956), Star (1963), L'ExpressLe Militant (1969), Liberation (1971), The Nation (1971) and Le Populaire (1973).

As of 2002, there were a dozen privately-owned newspapers published in Mauritius and one on nearby Rodrigues Island. Most of them freely express their views in opposition to reigning government, and although sometimes they seemingly overstep their limits, the government has yet to invoke the libel laws available to it. With the exception of the Chinese dailies, all daily newspapers are published in both French and English. Additionally, the Mauritius News, a bilingual newspaper that is published monthly in London, England, has a wide circulation in Mauritius as well as in the Mauritian community in the United Kingdom. The newspapers extensively use two wire services: the All Africa Newswire available in English and French, and the Pan African News Agency, which provides its news stream in English, French, and Arabic. Copies of the larger Mauritian newspapers and magazines, such as ImpactNews, Le Quotidien, News on Sunday,5-Plus Dimanche, The Sun, Sundayand Week-End are all available on microfilm at the U.S. Library of Congress facility in New Delhi.

Economic Framework

After its independence from Britain, Mauritius drastically revolutionized its low-income, agricultural-based economy that largely relied on sugar production to a labor intensive, export oriented industrialized economy that also features a thriving tourist sector. The tourist department advertises Mauritius as "the most cosmopolitan island in the sun" with a "charming population, always wearing a smile." The island nation does offer excellent hotel accommodation, a full range of water and land sports, beautiful beaches, and deep blue lagoons, all of which have combined to make the island a popular tourist destination, which contributes to the economy and well-being of its slightly more than one million inhabitants. Despite the recent industrialization, sugar exports still account for 25 percent of the country's export earnings. Mauritius has also developed into an off-shore finance and investment center, attracting more than 9,000 offshore "entities," mostly interested in conducting trade with India and South Africa, as well as an investment in the banking sector. The island's annual economic growth rate has averaged 5 to 6 percent, which in turn has led to increased life expectancy rates, lower infant mortality, and the creation of a sophisticated infrastructure. In 1999, Mauritian exports were estimated at $1.6 billion and its largest export clients were the United Kingdom (32 percent), France (19 percent), and Germany (6 percent). That same year, its imports were valued at $2.3 billion, with most goods coming from France (14 percent), South Africa (11 percent), India (8 percent), and the United Kingdom (5 percent). The country's external debt stood at $1.9 billion in 2001.

Press Laws

The Constitution, adopted on March 12, 1968, and amended on March 12, 1992, recognizes freedom of speech and of the press. By all accounts, the government of Mauritius respects these freedoms. The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, but because there were reports of several prisoners dying while in police custody in 1998 and early 1999, the Commissioner of Police established a Complaint Investigation Bureau (CIB) in October 1999 to investigate complaints against the police. The national Human Rights Commission established in April 2001 supervises the CIB. The government has permitted prison visits by foreign diplomats, the national ombudsman, the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), and the press. In fact, the press has taken an active role in making prison visits and in reporting the living conditions in the media. The government recognizes the fact that many of its citizens greatly respect what it considers to be the fundamental freedoms. For example, although the Public Security Act of 2000 allows police officers of the rank of assistant superintendent and above to search a premises without a warrant in any situation where the delay in obtaining a warrant may be prejudicial to public safety, the government had not implemented the law as of 2002 because of strong public pressures against it.

However, in March 2001, the police briefly detained the editor of the newspaper on Rodrigues island on a charge of publishing false information. The article in question, alleged that a Rodrigues man died as a result of injuries received in police custody. A hearing originally scheduled for November 2001 was postponed to 2002. The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, which consists of the Supreme Court with appellate powers, and a series of lower courts. The government respects the independence and integrity of the judiciary.

Broadcast & ELECTRONIC News Media

Since 1999 there has been considerable debate about and subsequent changes to the government's control over radio and television broadcasting. In the campaign preceeding the September 2000 elections, the issue of the government's control and misuse of the state-owned Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) held center-stage. After the elections, the new government vowed to depoliticize the MBC. By the end of that year, the Mauritian Journalists Association noted in its report that the government was placing far less pressure on it than it had before the election.

Meanwhile, in August 2000, the National Assembly passed the Independent Broadcasting Authority Act, which created the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) with a mandate to regulate and license all radio and television broadcasting. The law provided for the private ownership of broadcast stations and reemphasized the independence of the IBA. However, the IBA is composed of representatives of several ministries and is chaired by Ashok Radhakissoon, an appointee of the Prime Minister, It also is answers to the Prime Minister on matters of national security and public order. The following July and August, the IBA began formulating licensing rules and hearing applications for broadcast licenses. In December 2001, it authorized two private radio stations and announced that a third radio station would be authorized to broadcast. However, the stations were not able to broadcast at the time the they were authorized because they had not yet received "multicarrier" service. Thus the implementation of the law has been slow and the government's monopoly in broadcasting local news and programming continued in early 2002. Some government observers felt that the government was intentionally causing the delays because it did not want to let go of its control over broadcasting. However, while the new stations were waiting to provide service, a private news organization opened up on the Internet that broadcast local news out over the Internet, thereby circumventing the ban on private party television or radio local news broadcasts. Also, foreign international news services such as the British Sky News, French Canal Plus, and CNN were already available to anyone by subscription. Additionally, almost all major Australian cities carry news from Mauritius by broadcasting programs in French. Two popular community radio programs are: the Melbourne South Eastern CommunityMauritian Community Program on 3 SER 97.7 FM (stereo) and the Mauritian, Rodriguan, and Seychelles Community Program, which is run by volunteers, on 3 ZZZ 92.3 FM. The stations broadcast music, news, quiz programs, interviews, and "radiothons" in French and Mauritian Creole.

Bibliography

Editor & Publisher International Yearbook. New York: Editor and Publisher Co., 1999.

Statistical Yearbook, Paris: UNESCO, 2000.

World Press Trends. Paris: World Association of Newspapers, 2000.

World Radio and TV Handbook. Amsterdam: Billboard Publications, 2001.

World-newspapers.com. Available on the Internet at http://www.world-Newspapers.com.

Damodar R. SarDesai

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Mauritius

Mauritius

Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Mauritius
Region: Africa
Population: 1,179,368
Language(s): English, Creole, French, Hindi, Urdu, Hakka, Bojpoori
Literacy Rate: 82.9%

History & Background

Since Mauritius gained its independence from Britain in 1968, its educational system, which is based upon the British model, has seen several upgrades. Primary and secondary education in the eastern African nation have been free to all residents since 1976; higher education became free in 1988.


Constitutional & Legal Foundations

Calls for educational reform throughout the 1980s and 1990s helped shape the country's workforce-based curriculum, which is geared toward producing easily trained and flexible graduates able to function in an increasingly industrialized country. A Master Plan of Education, presented by the minister of education in November 1991, put into motion several major changes including making primary education mandatory, establishing the Tertiary Education Commission to increase enrollment at institutions of higher education, and adding modern information technology to the educational infrastructure.


Educational SystemOverview

The Education Act of 1993 requires children between the ages of 5 and 12 to attend six years of primary school; enrollment is 98 percent, and roughly 50 percent of all students are female. The official language of instruction at all levels is English.

Nearly 78 percent of four-year-old children also attend preprimary schools. Students must pass a national examination, conducted by the Mauritius Examination Syndicate (MES), to receive a Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) and gain admission to secondary school. All students at the secondary school levelenrollment is 60 percent of children aged 12 to 19 years, 51 percent of whom are girlsattend three years of general courses (lower level). An additional two years of courses (upper level) prepare secondary students to earn one of two diplomas: the Cambridge School Certificate or the Cambridge Higher School Certificate. The University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, along with the MES, oversees the final examinations for secondary students. Only 15 to 20 percent of all students earn a Higher School Certificate, while less than 2 percent of all students actually enroll at an institution of higher learning.

Private schools are commonplace in Mauritius mainly because the Education Act allows any business or individual in the country to create a primary or secondary school. The Private Secondary Schools Authority oversees government funding to private institutions. Private postsecondary institutions must be approved by the Industrial and Vocational Training Board and are subject to audit by the National Accreditation and Equivalence Council.

State-owned secondary schools are all equipped with a minimum of ten computers; private schools seek out grant funding for instructional technology. Similarly, science classrooms in state schools are furnished with laboratory implements, while private institutions receive loans to fund the purchase of similar equipment. Textbooks are free to all primary school students. Secondary school students must pay for their texts, which are standardized at the lower level and selected by school-based curriculum committees for upper level courses.


Preprimary & Primary Education

The growing role of women in the workforce prompted the establishment of public preschools in 1984. Of the 1,087 preprimary schools in operation, 79 percent are private; 16 percent are overseen by Parent Teacher Associations; and 5 percent are run by municipal and village councils. In contrast, the government controls 225 of the 291 primary schools in operation. The majority (51) of the remaining primary schools are run by the Roman Catholic Education Authority (RCEA). Along with mathematics, French, English, religion, and environmental studies, primary curriculum offerings have included seven Asian languages since 1986. Primary school enrollment reached 135,237 in 2000. The student-teacher ratio is 36:1.


Secondary Education

The government runs 34 of the nation's 134 secondary schools, while religious organizations, including the RCEA and the Hindu Education Authority, oversee most of the remaining 100 schools. Enrollment grew to 95,448 students in 2000. The student-teacher ratio is 19:1. Students who choose not to attend a general secondary school may enroll in technical and vocational programs offered at 25 schools; the student-teacher ratio at those institutions is 16:1.


Higher Education

Students with the Higher School Certificate may choose to attend one of two lycées (polytechnical institutes), run by the Management Trust Fund, or one of four universities.

Established in 1972, the University of Mauritius (UOM) offers programs of study in agriculture, sugar technology, industrial technology, and policies and administration. Enrollment in 1997 reached 2,800 students. Faculty members, both full- and part-time, totaled 300.

Mainly a teaching college, Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE) offers education degrees in science, agriculture, mathematics, and computers, as well as programs in commerce and business studies, general education studies, English, French, movement and physical education, home economics, visual arts, design and technology, educational administration and management, media and teaching aids, and social studies. MIE also offers postgraduate teaching certification.

The Mahatma Gandhi Institute, founded in 1970 by the governments of India and Mauritius to promote Indian ethnology, operates three schools: Music and Fine Arts, Indian Studies, and Mauritian and Asian Studies.

Finally, Mauritius College of the Air, which broadcasts classes, offers postsecondary education in English, French, chemistry, physics, mathematics, business management, and accounting.


Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development oversees all support provided to educational institutions. Mauritius spent 14.9 percent of government total recurrent expenditure on education in 2000. As authorized by the Mauritius Research Council, national educational research is conducted in four areas: teacher education, multicultural issues, special education, and curriculum.


Nonformal Education

In 1995, a total of 17.8 percent of the population was deemed illiterate. Five government organizations and 51 nongovernment organizations offer literacy training to all age groups.


Teaching Profession

The Mauritius Institute of Education offers training to new and experienced teachers at the preprimary through secondary levels. Preprimary teachers are required to hold a Cambridge School Certificate and complete a training course. Primary education teachers must also complete a two-year program consisting of both coursework and teaching practice. State school teachers at the secondary level must have a degree from an accredited university to earn the title of "Education Officer Grade A" or a Cambridge Higher School Certificate and three-years of part-time teacher training, which culminates in a teaching diploma, to earn the title of "Education Officer Grade B."

Secondary school teachers at private institutions are required to hold a college degree to become an Education Officer; a Cambridge School Certificate and a teaching diploma to become a Grade I teacher; or a Cambridge Higher School Certificate to become a Grade II teacher. To earn a postgraduate certificate in education, students must take 24 credits of coursework and 8 credits of teaching practice.


Summary

The educational policies and practices of Mauritius will likely remain closely tied to the nation's economic development. With legislation underway for the creation of a University of Technology and many education officials calling for the increase of mandatory education from six to nine years, the primary, secondary, and tertiary educational systems of the nation may undergo considerable changes early in the twenty-first century.


Bibliography

Alladin, Ibrahim M. Education and Neocolonialism: A Study of Educational Development in Mauritius. Peter Lang Publishing, 2000.

Mauritius Ministry of Economic Development and Productivity & Regional Development. Education Statistics 2000. Prepared by the Ministry of Education and Scientific Research, Central Statistical Office. Port Louis, August 2000. Available from http://ncb.intnet.mu.

U.S. Library of Congress. MauritiusA Country Study. Prepared by the Federal Research Division. Washington, DC, August 1994. Available from http://rs6.loc.gov.

World Data on Education. Education Profiles: Mauritius. Prepared by the International Bureau of Education, June 2000. Available from http://www.ibe.unesco.org.


AnnaMarie L. Sheldon

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Mauritius

Mauritius

Official name: Republic of Mauritius

Area: 1,860 square kilometers (718 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Black River Peak (828 meters/2,717 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Southern and Eastern

Time zone: 4 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 61 kilometers (38 miles) from north to south; 47 kilometers (29 miles) from east to west

Land boundaries: None

Coastline: 177 kilometers (110 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)

1 LOCATION AND SIZE

The African island nation of Mauritius is located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar. With a total area of about 1,860 square kilometers (718 square miles), the country is about eleven times the size of Washington, D.C. Mauritius is divided into nine districts and three dependencies.

2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES

Rodrigues Island, and the island groups of Agalega Islands and Cargados Carajos Shoals (also called the St. Brandon group), are all dependencies of Mauritius. They also are located in the Indian Ocean, north and east of Mauritius.

3 CLIMATE

Mauritius has a maritime climate with temperatures that vary by altitude. At sea level temperatures range from 18°C to 30°C (64° to 86°F); at an elevation of 460 meters (1,500 feet), they range from 13°C to 26°C (55° to 79°F). Because it is in the tropics, Mauritius's climate is mostly humid, with prevailing southeast winds. The warmest months are October through April (summer) and the coolest are June through September (winter).

Due to the tradewinds, the central plateau and windward slopes experience heavy rains from October to March. These areas have an annual average rainfall of more than 500 centimeters (200 inches). On the coast, yearly rainfall averages about 100 centimeters (40 inches). From April to September, daily showers occur; between December and April, occasional tropical cyclones strike Mauritius.

4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS

Mauritius is a picturesque island nation, with rugged volcanic features and a large fertile plain. The compact main island is the worn and eroded base of an extinct volcano. It stands on a mostly undersea feature called the Mascarene Plateau (a ridge that for much of its length now lies underwater in the Indian Ocean and runs from north to south). The Mascarene Plateau was once a land bridge between Asia and Africa. The island's surface consists of a broad plateau that begins on the southern coastline, with elevations of approximately 670 meters (2,200 feet), and then slopes toward a northern coastal plain. Several low mountain groups and isolated peaks rise above the level of the plateau, forming a more rugged landscape. A coral reef nearly encircles the island. Mauritius sits on the African Tectonic Plate, but not near enough to any plate boundaries or fault lines to experience any major earthquakes or tectonic activity.

5 OCEANS AND SEAS

Seacoast and Undersea Features

The Indian Ocean surrounds Mauritius and its dependencies. Third-largest of the five oceans of the world, the Indian Ocean extends north to south from Asia to Antarctica and east to west from Africa to Australia.

A large coral reef entirely surrounds Mauritius, except for a few small breaks along the coast. A large break in the reef occurs on the southern coast between Souillac and Le Bouchon, and a smaller gap occurs on the western coast at Flic-en-Flac.

Sea Inlets and Straits

The Grand River Bay lies just south of the Port Louis Harbor. Just north of the harbor is Tom-beau Bay. Grand Bay, located near the city of the same name, is situated in the far northwest shore. Tamarin Bay, by the city of Tamarin north of the Black River, is a popular spot for surfers. These, as well as many other small inlets along the Mauritius coast, boast beautiful coral sand beaches.

Islands and Archipelagos

The inhabited Rodrigues Island lies about 560 kilometers (350 miles) to the northeast of Mauritius. It has an area of about 110 square kilometers (42.5 square miles) and a population of about 34,000. Another dependency, Agalega, lies 1,122 kilometers (697 miles) north of Mauritius and consists of two islands: North Island and South Island. Agalega has a combined area of 70 square kilometers (27 square miles).

Coral atolls surround Mauritius, including the Cargados Carajos Shoals (St. Brandon Group). Nature preserves protect the natural habitat on neighboring Round Island (Île Ronde) and Serpents Island (Île aux Serpents), among others.

Coastal Features

A few long stretches of white sand beaches line the country on the north and east. A lagoon exists at Flic-en-Flac on the midwestern coast, south of Port Louis.

6 INLAND LAKES

Grand Bassin and Bassin Blanc, both of which lie in craters of extinct volcanoes, are two of the country's natural lakes. Grand Bassin, about 6 kilometers (4 miles) southeast of Mare aux Vacoas in the southwest, is believed to be sacred by Hindus. Several reservoirs are also located on the island, including La Nicolière in the north, Piton du Milieu in the central area, and Mare aux Vacoas, the largest reservoir, in the south.

7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS

Numerous rivers flow through Mauritius. The Grand River South East is the country's longest river, at 40 kilometers (25 miles) in length. It is located in the central-eastern region. The other main rivers are Black River (Rivière Noire), Post River (Rivière du Poste), Grand River North West, and Rempert River. Several waterfalls exist; the highest are the Tamarin Falls in the west at 293 meters (961 feet) in height.

8 DESERTS

There are no desert regions in Mauritius.

9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN

The coastal plains cover about 46 percent of the country, and most of these are located in the north. Nearly 50 percent of the land is arable, but only about 10 percent of the economic output comes from agriculture. Sugarcane is a primary crop.

10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES

The entire island of Mauritius is of volcanic origin, having risen from the sea floor roughly ten million years ago. Three mountain ranges border the central plateau of Mauritius: Moka to the northwest, Grand Port to the east, and Black River to the southwest. The highest peak on the island, Black River Peak (Piton de la Rivière Noire), is in the southwest region of the country, in the Black River Mountain Range.

11 CANYONS AND CAVES

Caverne Patate, located in the southwest corner of the island of Rodrigues, is a series of coral rock and limestone caves popular with tourists that stretches for about 795 meters (2608 feet). The mainland of Mauritius contains several lava caves (often called cellars); many of them are unexplored, however.

Canyons serve as the center point for the Black River Gorges National Park, created in 1994 as the nation's first national conservation area.

12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS

From elevations of approximately 670 meters (2,200 feet) near the southern coastline, a broad central plateau slopes toward a northern coastal plain. The country's mountain ranges surround the plateau.

13 MAN-MADE FEATURES

There are ten man-made reservoirs in Mauritius. Earthfill dams created these reservoirs to retain fresh water for drinking and irrigation. Some of the dams also provide hydroelectric power.

DID YOU KNOW?

Mauritius's designation as a tropical island is based on its location between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The Tropic of Cancer is the parallel of latitude located at 23°30' north of the equator. The Tropic of Capricorn is located at the parallel of latitude that is 23°30' south of the equator. These imaginary lines mark the boundaries of an area in which the sun will appear to be directly overheador at a 90°-angle to the earthat twelve o'clock noon. North or south of these lines, the angle of the sun at noon appears to be less than 90°. The lines were named after the constellations that the sun moves through during the winter and summer solstices (Capricorn on December 21 or 22 and Cancer on June 21 or 22).

14 FURTHER READING

Books

Mauritius, Réunion, & Seychelles. New York: Langenscheidt Publishers, 2000.

NgCheong-Lum, Roseline. Culture Shock! Mauritius. Singapore: Time Books International, 1997.

Selvon, Sydney. Historical Dictionary of Mauritius. 2nd ed. Meutchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1991.

Periodicals

McCarry, John. "Mauritius: Island of Quiet Success." National Geographic, April 1993, 110-132.

Web Sites

"Geography & Climate." Government of Mauritius. http://ncb.intnet.mu/govt/geograph.htm (accessed April 24, 2003).

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Mauritius

Mauritius (môrĬsh´ēəs, –əs), officially Republic of Mauritius, republic (2005 est. pop. 1,231,000), 790 sq mi (2,046 sq km), in the SW Indian Ocean. It is part of the Mascarene Islands, c.500 mi (800 km) E of Madagascar. The island of Rodriguez and two groups of small islands, Agalega and Cargados Carajos, are dependencies of Mauritius. The capital is Port Louis.

Land and People

Mauritius is surrounded by coral reefs. A central plateau is ringed by mountains of volcanic origin, which rise to c.2,700 ft (820 m) in the southwest. The island has a tropical, rainy climate. Mauritius is divided into nine districts.

Over two thirds of the population are of Indian descent, and over 25% are creole (of mixed French and African background). There are also small Chinese and French communities. About half of the people are Hindu, while 30% are Christian (mainly Roman Catholic), and most of the remainder are Muslim. English is the official language, although most of the people speak a creole dialect; other languages include Bojpoori, French, Hindi, Urdu, and Hakka.

Economy

Mauritius has had one of the world's faster-growing economies since the early 1980s, in part because of its success in attracting foreign investors. Sugarcane is the chief crop. Tea, flowers for the florist trade, and food crops are also grown, cattle and goats are raised, and there is a fishing industry. Since independence, the country has decreased its dependence on sugar (though most of the arable land remains devoted to it), diversified its industrial base to include mining and manufacturing, and adopted free-trade economic policies. Financial services and tourism are important industries, and data processing and call centers also contribute to the economy. Clothing and textiles, sugar and molasses, cut flowers, and fish are the major exports. Manufactured goods, capital equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, and chemicals are imported. The country's chief trading partners are Great Britain, France, China, and the United States.

Government

Mauritius is governed under the constitution of 1968, as amended. The president, who is head of state, is elected by the National Assemby for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The government is headed by the prime minister, who is appointed by the president. The unicameral legislature consists of the 70-seat National Assembly; 62 members are elected, and eight, representing ethnic minorities, are appointed by the election commission. All serve five-year terms. Administratively, Mauritius is divided into nine districts and three dependencies.

History

Mauritius was probably visited by Arabs and Malays in the Middle Ages. Portuguese sailors visited it in the 16th cent. The island was occupied by the Dutch from 1598 to 1710 and named after Prince Maurice of Nassau. The French settled the island in 1722 and called it Île de France. It became an important way station on the route to India. The French introduced the cultivation of sugarcane and imported large numbers of African slaves to work the plantations. The British captured the island in 1810 and restored the Dutch name. After the abolition of slavery in 1835, indentured laborers were brought from India; their descendants constitute a majority of the population today.

Politics on Mauritius was long the preserve of the French and the creoles, but the extension of the franchise under the 1947 constitution gave the Indians political power. Indian leaders in the 1950s and 60s favored independence, while the French and creoles wanted continuing association with Britain, fearing domination by the Hindu Indian majority. In 1965, Britain separated the strategic Chagos Archipelago (see British Indian Ocean Territory) from Mauritius, but Mauritius continues to claim the islands and has sought their return. The 1967 election gave a majority in the assembly to Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam's proindependence Labor party. Independence was granted in 1968, and Ramgoolam became the first prime minister. Mauritius joined the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations.

The 1960s saw the rise of left-wing militancy, while in the 1970s and 80s political coalitions formed along ethnic and class lines. The economic crisis of the late 1970s and early 80s, after Cyclone Claudette and a drop in world sugar prices, intensified internal disputes.

In 1982 the left-wing Mauritius Militant Movement (MMM) came to power, and Anerood Jugnauth became prime minister. The following year a split in the MMM led Jugnauth to form the Mauritius Socialist Movement (MSM). Jugnauth headed a series of coalition governments. In 1992, Mauritius became a republic, with Cassam Uteem as its first president. In 1995, Navinchandra Ramgoolam, son of the former prime minister, and a Labor-led coalition came to power after defeating Jugnauth in a landslide, but in Sept., 2000, Jugnauth and an MSM-MMM coalition returned to power in a similar landslide.

President Uteem resigned in 2002; Karl Offmann was elected by the national assembly to succeed him. In Sept., 2003, Jugnauth resigned and his MMM coalition partner, Paul Bérenger, became prime minister. Bérenger became the first person not of Indian descent to hold the post. The following month Offman was succeeded as president by Jugnauth. In the July, 2005, national assembly elections, Ramgoolam's Labor-led Social Alliance won a majority of the seats, and he became prime minister. He and his coalition were returned to power in the May, 2010, elections, but in 2011 and 2014 coalition partners of the Labor party withdrew from the government. Jugnauth resigned in Mar., 2012, to return to active party politics; Rajkeswar Purryag was elected to succeed him in July. In Sept., 2014, Labor and MMM agreed to an electoral alliance that would campaign in support of constitutional changes that would split executive powers between a popularly elected president and the prime minister. The December elections resulted in a win for the MSM-led coalition, and Jugnauth again became prime minister. President Purryag resigned in May, 2015; Ameenah Gurib-Fakim was elected to succeed him the following month.

Bibliography

See S. Selvon, Historical Dictionary of Mauritius (2d ed. 1991); M. J. Devaux, Mauritius (1983); L. Bowman, Mauritius (1991); P. R. Bennett, Mauritius (1992).

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Mauritius

Mauritius Republic in the sw Indian Ocean, c.800km (500mi) e of Madagascar; the capital is Port Louis (on Mauritius). The country consists of the main island of Mauritius, 20 nearby islets, and the dependency islands of Rodrigues, Agalega, and Cargados Carajos. The climate is sub-tropical, with up to 5000mm (200in) of rain a year. The Dutch began to colonize the island in 1598, and named it after Prince Maurice of Nassau. In 1715, it came under the control of France. The French established sugar cane plantations and imported African slave labour. In 1810, Britain seized Mauritius, and it was formally recognized as a British colony in 1814. In 1833, slavery was abolished and Indian forced labour was used. In 1968, Mauritius achieved independence as a member of the Commonwealth. In 1992, it became a republic. Its vast plantations produce sugar cane; sugar and molasses are the major exports. The increase in tourism and textile production partly compensated for the decline in the sugar market (2000 GDP per capita US$10,400). Ethnic and class divisions, combined with economic austerity, created a divided society in the 1980s. Area: 2046sq km (790sq mi). Pop. (2000) 1,201,000.

http://intnet.mu/govt; http://voyaz.com

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Mauritius

Mauritius

Culture Name

Mauritian

Orientation

Identification. The island of Mauritius was apparently uninhabited until 1638. It was then that the Dutch, under the Dutch East India Company, made their first attempt to colonize the land, named after the prince of Denmark, Maurice of Nassau. The people of Mauritius are descendants of European (mostly French) settlers, the Franco-Mauritians; African slaves and creoles, the Afro-Mauritians; Chinese traders, the Sino-Maurtians; and Indian laborers, the Indo-Mauritians. Such cultural diversity and geographic isolation have led to a nationalized sense of pride. There is unity in being a Mauritian despite not having a shared language and customs. For this reason Mauritius is often considered a global example of successful cultural integration.

Location and Geography. A total of 790 square miles (2,046 square kilometers) of land cover Mauritius. These include the island of Mauritius, with 720 square miles (1,865 square kilometers); the island of Rodrigues, about 350 miles (563 kilometers) east of Mauritius; the small Agalega Islands, 580 miles (933 kilometers) north; and the Cargados Carajos Shoals, 250 miles (402 kilometers) north.

The island of Mauritius, where the overwhelming majority of the people live, lies 500 miles (805 kilometers) east of Madagascar and 2,500 miles (4,023 kilometers) southwest of India. Mauritius was formed by volcanic activity that left a plateau in the middle of the island rising 2,200 feet (671 meters) above sea level. This plateau slopes downward to the north until it reaches the sea. In the south and west the plateau drops sharply to the coast. The driest part of the island in is the southwest, which receives about 35 inches (89 centimeters) per year. The center can receive up to 200 inches (508 centimeters) a year. The capital is Port Louis, on the northwestern roast of the island of Mauritius.

Demography. The current population is approximately 1.1 million. The majority live in the capital and largest city, Port Louis. The population density is one of the highest in the world. Immigration came in successive and dramatic waves. This is demonstrated through the official census, first published in 1846. In that year the total population was 158,462. The white and colored population was 102,217, and the Indian population was 56,245. In 1861 the total population reached 310,050. The white and colored population increased to 115,864. The Indian population more than tripled, to 192,634, to become the majority, and the Chinese population first registered at 1,552. In 1921 the white and colored population decreased to 104,216, the Indian population increased to 335,327, and the Chinese increased to 6,745, in a total population of 376,485. The next census was in 1952, which showed the total population at 501,415. Whites and coloreds were 148,238; Indians once again increased, to 335,327; and the Chinese moved to 17,850. In 1962 the census combined the whites and coloreds to become the "general population" and separated the Indians into Hindus and Muslims. In 1983 the census stopped ethnic comparisons altogether in favor of religious groupings. This was part of a government-based objective to de-emphasize ethnic differences. Results from the 1990 census are as follows: 535,028 Hindus, 172,047 Muslims, and 343,395 Christians, with 6,190 listed as Other.

Linguistic Affiliation. There is no official language in Mauritius. Government and administrative work is written in English. The press uses French, which is understood by more of the population than English. The majority of people understand a Creole language. There is no agreed-upon written form of this language, however, so it appears unlikely that this would be adapted as a national language despite its widespread use. At the school level the official policy is to promote ancestral languages. Thus the true state of languages seems to be genuinely a hybrid affair, and the government finds this the least intrusive of all possible measures.

History and Ethnic Relations

Arab and Swahili sailors knew of Mauritius before the 1500s. Portuguese explorers visited in the early sixteenth century. In 1638 the Dutch made attempts to colonize and inhabit the island. They brought small numbers of African slaves and introduced sugarcane to the island. Trouble maintaining the settlements led to their total abandonment in about 1710.

Five years later, Dusfrene d'Arsel claimed the island for France. The French already had nearby Réunion Island, and with these geographic holds the Mascarene Islands became an important base for attacks on British possessions in wartime. Under French rule Mauritius developed colonial plantation patterns.

The British attacked and captured the strategic islands in 1810. Réunion was given back to the French four years later because of the lack of good harbors. The Mauritius culture saw little change with the English takeover. The Cape of Good Hope was a more prized British possession, and subsequently little capital and effort was put into the Mauritian economy.

In 1825 the preferential West Indian sugar tariff was repealed, and the island transformed itself into a sugar-based economy.

Slavery was abolished in 1835. This led to large-scale demographic changes. The majority of the total population were plantation slaves. With the release of obligatory duty, upwards of half the slaves fled the plantations to live in shantytowns or unoccupied land. To make up for the loss in the workforce, plantation owners imported laborers from India. From 1835 to 1845 the Indian population went from nonexistent to a third of the total population.

Emergence of the Nation. Mauritius started self-government in the 1950s, which led to full independence from Great Britain on 12 March 1968. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam was the leader of this movement and afterward became the first prime minister. He served in that post from 1968 to 1982.

National Identity. The national identity of being a Mauritian is forged early in school and continues in the workplace. The mix of cultures forms the identity of the island. With no defining national cultural traits, the question arises whether Mauritius has a unique culture, or whether one is developing.

Ethnic Relations. The 1980s led to an economic boom for the island. This was fueled mostly by the industrialization of the export business. This led to more interracial mingling as the workplace brought previously separated ethnic factions together. This is mirrored in the school system.

The main ethnic groups have been emphasizing their ethnic roots and have helped to set up the Ministry for Culture and Arts to promote cultural activities and a better understanding of the different cultures in Mauritius. Cultural centers accomplish this task at the local level. These tend to reinforce cultural identity and strengthen the independent ethnic groups. Many of these centers obtain outside help from the parent cultures.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

With one of the highest population densities in the world, Mauritius places a high premium on housing. Hindus and Muslims tend to invest their life savings in real estate. Many creoles rent in urban areas. Their unique architecture is known for sharp roofs, long balconies, and canopies. Many of the traditional creole houses have been replaced in places by newer materials and designs. The government, in recognition of the heritage of the older houses, has campaigned to save their designs.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. The foods in Mauritius are as varied as the cultures. Chinese mostly own the restaurants in the cities, and they combine different ethnic foods on the same menu. Street food also is quite common for snacks and includes samosas, roti, curried rolls, soups, and noodles.

At home, rice is the most common staple. This is usually combined with fish, fowl, or red meat and copious spices to form a type of stew. Local vegetables are eaten readily and include chokos, red pumpkins, squash, and greens.

Basic Economy. The Mauritian economy is centered in agriculture and manufacturing. Commerce and services jobs also are evident. The currency is the Mauritian rupee.

Land Tenure and Property. The original Franco-Mauritian families that were given land rights in French colonial times still own more then 50 percent of the sugar fields. Large numbers of Indian planters own the remaining fields. The Chinese own a heavy concentration of commercial property. The creoles have never had any extensive land holdings. The government instituted a sugar tax to deal with the vast inequalities of the sugar industry. In the 1990s the tax was revoked after constant pressure from the sugar estates. However, a program whereby workers could buy shares in the sugar industry was begun.

Major Industries. Sugar has been the historical base of industry. Until 1979, 90 percent of the national economy was based on it. While not as powerful as they once were, the refined-sugar and molasses industries still hold much importance. Textiles and clothing manufacturing also have become important industries, along with chemicals, metals, and machinery. As with many island nations, tourism is an important source of revenue.

Trade. Because of the relatively small size of the island and scarcity of natural resources, Mauritius must import huge amounts of goods from countries such as France, South Africa, and India. Major imports included textiles, petroleum, machinery, metals, and food.

Major exports include industrial products and sugar. Agricultural products also exported are tea, peanuts, tobacco, potatoes, tomatoes, and bananas. Exports tend to be centered on the United Kingdom, France, and the United States. In 1997 the net export value was $1.616 billion (U.S.) and net imports $2.264 billion (U.S.), for a trade deficient of $648 million (U.S.).

Division of Labor. Traditionally, urban industrialization used mostly the creole women as the workforce. Rural industrialization has brought more of the Indian population, who live in higher numbers in the countryside, into the factories. The boom in industry has opened skilled-labor positions to all ethnicities in Mauritius, leading to very low unemployment rates.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. The Franco-Mauritians have had land and ownership privileges that the other ethnic groups have not, and they form a small, privileged high class. The Indians and Chinese form subgroups in relation to language, religious branches, and regional origins. Hindi is considered more prestigious among the Indian population, but northern Indian dialects are more commonly used in the countryside. The creoles have had the poorest economic conditions of any group.

Political Life

Government. The British Westminster model of government is the basis for Mauritius. Until 1992 the queen of England was the head of state and queen of Mauritius in a constitutional monarchy, with Mauritius as a commonwealth. In 1992 Mauritius became a republic. The presidency of the republic is a ceremonial office only; the president is appointed by the prime minister and the National Assembly, whose members are chosen via general elections. The prime minister is the leader of the majority in the National Assembly.

In the National Assembly, eight seats in addition to the sixty-two elected seats are awarded to candidates defeated in the general election: four to those candidates who fared the best in relation to the other defeated candidates, and four on a party and community basis. There has been discontent with this system, and a major reworking of the electoral process has been widely discussed.

Leadership and Political Officials. All of Mauritius's prime ministers have been Hindu. The first, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, led the independence movement in Mauritius.

Social Problems and Control. In February 2000 several days of rioting occurred in Port Louis. A popular creole singer, Kaya, died while in police custody. The creole community suspected the police of misconduct leading to his death and retaliated by protests that spiraled into rioting and violence. Four deaths and fifty million dollars of damage resulted. It was the worst social unrest in Mauritius's history.

Military Activity. The military has an annual budget of $11 million and thirteen hundred active personal. Most of these are trained for internal disputes. Combined with the coast guard they have five hundred boats and aircraft available worth an estimated $87 million.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

The first study of nongovernmental organizations (NGO) in Mauritius focused on twenty-six groups as follows: eight, social; five, labor; five, business; four, religious; three, cultural; and one, environmental. Most of these groups have an influential impact on governmental policies.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. The economic success of industry has led to low unemployment rates. This has changed the workplace and home life as women joined the workforce. This industrialization also led to women being promoted faster. According to the Minister of Women, Family Welfare, and Child Development, a quarter of all managers are now women.

Women are the traditional homekeepers of the society. Between 1985 and 1991 the numbers of women working outside the home increased from 22 percent to 41 percent. With that trend continuing, hired housekeeping and child care have become relatively new and important industries.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Historically, women have had subordinate roles in Maurition society. However, the Constitution specifically prohibits discrimination based on sex, and women now have access to education, employment, and governmental services.

In March 1998 the Domestic Violence Act was passed. This gave greater protection and legal authority to combat domestic abuse. In that same year it also became a crime to abandon one's family or pregnant spouse for more than two months, not to pay food support, or to engage in sexual harassment.

Women are underrepresented in the government. The National Assembly has seventy seats, of which women hold five.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Most marriages in Mauritius occur within the same ethnic group; only about 8 percent of marriages are interethnic. Those couples who do intermarry usually take on a single ethnic identity for their children. Those children in turn usually associate with that ethnic group and marry within it.

Ethnic identification is considered to be more important than class and is the single most examined factor in selecting a mate; group and parental influences also are factors. Marriage outside ethnic lines risks the family's disapproval and sometimes can lead to punishment. This carries additional weight in Mauritius, where families typically live with each other because of high land costs.

Socialization

Child Rearing and Education. Education is free from the primary to the tertiary level and is mandatory until age twelve. The government considers education one of its greatest concerns and has an "education for all" policy to ensure fair education to the different socioeconomic groups. Some schools in low-rent areas have large drop out rates, which particularly affects the Creole community. The greatest amount of interethnic mingling occurs in the schools, and this has the promise of leading to the formation of a national identity.

Higher Education. The University of Mauritius was established in 1971. The original focus was oriented toward agriculture and manufacturing. Since 1989 the university has increased its majors to include the humanities.

Etiquette

Most outsiders think of Mauritians as being aloof at first. Among themselves they are quite social and friendly, and this ultimately prevails with visitors and locals alike. Dress is culturally dependent but somewhat conservative. Lightweight and colored fabrics are usually worn. Attire among women can vary from one-piece bathing suits to complete covering, especially among Muslims. Toplessness and nudity are not condoned for either sex.

Religion

Religious Beliefs. Religious freedom is the major key to peace on Mauritius and is a constitutionally guaranteed right. Hindus make up 52 percent of the total population. Christians (28.3 percent), Muslims (16.6 percent), and others (3.1 percent) follow them.

Medicine and Health Care

Public and private hospitals are on the island. The private hospitals are generally considered to be of better quality and are more expensive than the public hospitals. Both are adequate, if a little below Western standards.

Malaria is very rare and exists only in the rural areas. Hepatitis A is fairly common. The more severe hepatitis B and C are rare.

Men have an average life expectancy of sixty-six years; women, of seventy-five years.

Secular Celebrations

There are thirteen official state holidays. They are: New Year's Day (1 and 2 January); Chinese New Year (January/February); Thaipoosam Cavadee (January/February); Maha Shivaratree (February/March); Republic Day (12 March); Ougadi-Telegy New Year (March/April); Labor Day (1 May); Ind El Fitr (lunar); Ganesh Chaturthi (August/September); Diwali (October/November); All Saints (1 November) and Christmas (25 December).

The Arts and Humanities

Performance Arts. Popular music from the West and from India are widely listened to. The only original music and the national music is Sega, a tribal-based drumbeat based on African rhythms. It has a ritualistic dance that is often done in tandem. The women dance in sensual ways to lure partners, but they are not allowed to kiss or touch.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

The sciences have been neglected in Mauritius at different levels since its inception. The University of Mauritius is trying to focus more energy on research and science, and the government has obtained permission and funding for a new technological university.

Bibliography

Alladin, Ibrahim. Economic Miracle in the Indian Ocean: Can Mauritius Show the Way?, 1993.

Allen, Richard. Slaves, Freedman, and Indentured Laborers in Colonial Mauritius, 1999.

Carroll, Barbara, and Terrance Carroll. "Accommodating Ethnic Diversity in a Modernizing Democratic State: Theory and Practice in the Case of Mauritius." Ethnic and Racial Studies 23 (1): 120142, 2000.

Nave, Ari. "Marriage and the Maintenance of Ethnic Groups Boundaries: The Case of Mauritius." Ethnic and Racial Studies 23 (2): 329352, 2000.

Selvon, Sydney. Historical Dictionary of Mauritius, 1991.

U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 1999 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Mauritius, 2000.

Young, Crawford, ed. The Accommodation of Cultural Diversity, 1999.

David Matusky

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MAURITIUS

MAURITIUS. An Indian Ocean country and member of the COMMONWEALTH. Languages: English (official), a FRENCH-based CREOLE called Morisiê, French, HINDI, URDU, and Hakka Chinese. A French colony from 1715 and a British colony from 1810, Mauritius gained independence in 1968. The Creole minority is descended from African slaves and French settlers, the Indo-Mauritian majority from indentured labourers brought to the islands by the British after the abolition of slavery in 1833. The mixture of influences is noticeable in place-names, such as the districts of Rivière du Rempart, Pamplemousses, Flacq, Moka, Black River, Plaines Wilhems, Grand Port, Savanne. Local newspapers print articles in English and French side by side.

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Mauritius

Mauritius was long known to the Arabs. It was discovered by the Portuguese but settled by the Dutch who named it after Maurice of Nassau. The French East India Company took possession in 1715 and, under Mahé de la Bourdonnais, developed sugar, cotton, spice, and indigo plantations. The British captured it in 1810 and kept it as their own crown colony. When slavery was abolished, Indian indentured labour was imported to work the plantations. Representative government was established in 1947 and Mauritius became independent within the Commonwealth in 1968. In 1992 it adopted a republican constitution.

David Anthony Washbrook

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Mauritius

Mauritiusfactious, fractious •anxious • captious •precious, semi-precious •infectious •conscientious, contentious, licentious, pretentious, sententious, tendentious •Athanasius, audacious, bodacious, cactaceous, capacious, carbonaceous, contumacious, Cretaceous, curvaceous, disputatious, edacious, efficacious, fallacious, farinaceous, flirtatious, foliaceous, fugacious, gracious, hellacious, herbaceous, Ignatius, loquacious, mendacious, mordacious, ostentatious, perspicacious, pertinacious, pugnacious, rapacious, sagacious, salacious, saponaceous, sebaceous, sequacious, setaceous, spacious, tenacious, veracious, vexatious, vivacious, voracious •facetious, Lucretius, specious •adventitious, Aloysius, ambitious, auspicious, avaricious, capricious, conspicuous, delicious, expeditious, factitious, fictitious, flagitious, judicious, lubricious, malicious, Mauritius, meretricious, nutritious, officious, pernicious, propitious, repetitious, seditious, siliceous, superstitious, suppositious, surreptitious, suspicious, vicious •noxious, obnoxious •conscious, subconscious, unselfconscious •cautious, tortious •atrocious, ferocious, precocious •Confucius • luscious •bumptious, scrumptious •compunctious, rambunctious

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Mauritius

MAURITIUS

MAURITIUS , island in the Indian Ocean about 500 mi. E. of Madagascar, where Jewish refugees from Central Europe – passengers of the Atlantic – were put into detention during World War ii after being forcibly deported from Palestine by the British as "illegal" immigrants (see *Patria). On their arrival in Mauritius (Dec. 26, 1940), they numbered 1,580 persons: 1,320 landed in Haifa on Aug. 26, 1945, after the ban on their return was rescinded; 128 died while in Mauritius; 212 men joined the Allied forces, 56 of whom entered the *Jewish Brigade. About 60 children were born after the original strict regulation on separation of the sexes in the camp was abolished. The detainees consisted of a Maccabi-He-Ḥalutz transport from Czechoslovakia, remnants of the Jewish community of Danzig, and a transport launched from Vienna. They were interned in the town of Beau Bassin, the men in a former prison, the women in adjacent huts of corrugated iron. They were not brutally treated, but were afflicted by tropical diseases, such as malaria, and by a lack of suitable clothing; food was often inadequate. Considerable moral and material assistance was given by Jewish organizations, particularly the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, the South African Zionist Federation, and the Jewish Agency. The detainees conducted manifold communal and cultural activities; they struggled for release and retransfer to Palestine through the Zionist Association of Mauritius, to which about 70% of the detainees belonged. Their struggle was supported by official Jewish institutions which regarded the "Exile in Mauritius" as a political challenge and an infliction of needless suffering upon refugees from the Holocaust through the implementation of the anti-Jewish Palestine White Paper of May 1939. The ultimate liberation of the detainees was hailed as a moral and political success for the Zionist movement.

[Aharon Zwergbaum]

In 1946 the St. Martins Jewish Cemetery, where Jewish detainees who died on the island during the war are buried, was entrusted to the South African Jewish Board of Deputies. Since that date the sajbd, in cooperation with local benefactors (both Jewish and non-Jewish) and in recent years in partnership with the African Jewish Congress, has overseen its maintenance, including an extensive restoration project in 2001. Towards the end of the 20th century, a steady trickle of Jews began settling in Mauritius. In 2004, there were an estimated 60 Jews living permanently there. These were primarily engaged in tourism (three leading hotels were under Jewish management), agriculture, and the diamond and burgeoning textile industries. Plans were afoot for the opening of a Jewish community center, incorporating a synagogue, in the first half of 2005.

[David Saks (2nd ed.)]

Relations with Israel

In 1960, while Mauritius was still a British colony, Israel, represented by a consul general, extended it technical aid particularly through scholarships for young Mauritians to study medicine in Jerusalem and technical assistance on the spot. Mauritius became independent in 1968 and joined the United Nations. An Israel delegation attended the celebration, and full diplomatic relations were established between the two countries, Israel's ambassador in Tananarive (Malagasy) serving as non-resident ambassador to Mauritius. Offers for new scholarships in Israel, as well as Israel assistance by experts in agriculture and other fields, were accepted by Mauritius. Mauritian professionals trained in Israel founded a Mauritius-Israel Friendship Society. Strong Indian influence in Mauritius, as well as Muslims of Pakistani origin who constitute 20% of its population, make themselves felt in Mauritius' attitude and policy toward Israel. The general attitude to Israel, however, is basically friendly, with the elder generation still remembering with sympathy the Jewish refugees from Europe exiled there in 1940, and the mutual relations between the countries remained fruitful.

[Zvi Loker]

bibliography:

Zwergbaum, in: Yad Vashem Studies, 4 (1960); 191–257; idem, in Gesher, 66 (March 1971), 92–104; D. Trevor, Underthe White Paper (1948), index; M. Basok (ed.), Sefer ha-Ma'pilim (1947), passim; Yad Vashem, Ha-Sho'ah ve-ha-Gevurah be-Aspaklaryah shel ha-Ittonut ha-IvritBibliografyah, 2 (1966), 12871–970.

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Mauritius

Mauritius

PROFILE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
DEFENSE
U.S.-MAURITIAN RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the December 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Republic of Mauritius

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 1,865 sq. km. (720 sq. mi.), about the size of Rhode Island; 500 miles east of Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean.

Dependencies: Rodrigues Island, the Agalega Islands and Cargados Carajos Shoals; Mauritius also claims sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago, part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, where U.S. Naval Support Facility at Diego Garcia is located.

Cities: Capital—Port Louis (pop. 146,319). Other cities—Beau Bassin and Rose Hill (105,377), Vacoas-Phoenix (101,789), Curepipe (82,756), Quatre Bornes (77,145).

Terrain: Volcanic island surrounded by coral reefs. A central plateau is rimmed by mountains.

Climate: Tropical; cyclone season mid-December-April.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Mauritian(s).

Population: (2005) 1,248,592, including Rodrigues, Agalega, and St. Brandon.

Avg. annual population growth: (2005) 0.9%. Density—612/sq. km.

Ethnic groups: Indo-Mauritians 68%, Creoles 27%, Sino-Mauritians 3%, Franco-Mauritians 2%.

Religions: Hindu, Roman Catholic, Muslim.

Languages: Creole (common), French, English (official), Hindi, Urdu, Hakka, Bhojpuri.

Education: Years compulsory—11 (primary school). Attendance (primary school)—virtually universal. Literacy—adult population 85%; school population 90%.

Health: (2005) Infant mortality rate—14.8/1000. Life expectancy—male 68.6 yrs., female 75.5 yrs.

Work force: (2005, 543,900) Manufacturing—19.8%; construction-9.7%; trade and tourism—22.3%; government services—16.6%; agriculture and fishing—9.6%; other-31.7%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: March 12, 1968 (became a republic in 1992).

Constitution: March 12, 1968.

Government branches: Executive—president (head of state), prime minister (head of government), Council of Ministers. Legislative—unicameral National Assembly. Judicial—Supreme Court.

Political subdivisions: 10.

Political parties: MSM (Militant Socialist Movement), MMM (Mauritian Militant Movement) and the Social Alliance (made up of several parties, including the Mauritian Labor Party).

Suffrage: Universal over 18.

Defense: (2006) 1.7% of GDP.

Economy

GDP: (2006) $6.5 billion.

Real growth rate: (2006) 5%.

Per capita income: (2006) $5,214.

Avg. inflation rate: (2006) 8.9%.

Natural resources: None.

Agriculture: (5.6% of GDP) Products—sugar, sugar derivatives, tea, tobacco, vegetables, fruits, flowers and fishing.

Manufacturing: including export processing zone (20% of GDP) Types—labor-intensive goods for export, including textiles and clothing, watches and clocks, jewelry, optical goods, toys and games, and cut flowers.

Tourism: (8.5% of GDP) Main countries of origin—France, including nearby French island Reunion, South Africa, and west European countries.

Financial services: 10.3% of GDP.

Trade: (2006) Exports—$2.2 billion: textiles and clothing, sugar, canned tuna, watches and clocks, jewelry, optical goods, toys and games, and flowers. Major markets—Europe and the U.S. Imports—$3.7 billion: meat, dairy products, fish, wheat, rice, wheat flour, vegetable oil, petroleum products, iron and steel, cement, fertilizers, machinery and transport equipment, and textile industry raw materials. Major suppliers—South Africa, France, China, India, Bahrain, Finland, U.K., Japan, Australia, and Germany. Fiscal year: July 1-June 30.

HISTORY

While Arab and Malay sailors knew of Mauritius as early as the 10th century AD and Portuguese sailors first visited in the 16th century, the island was first colonized in 1638 by the Dutch. Mauritius was populated over the next few centuries by waves of traders, planters and their slaves, indentured laborers, merchants, and artisans. The island was named in honor of Prince Maurice of Nassau by the Dutch, who abandoned the colony in 1710.

The French claimed Mauritius in 1715 and renamed it Ile de France. It became a prosperous colony under the French East India Company. The French Government took control in 1767, and the island served as a naval and privateer base during the Napoleonic wars. In 1810, Mauritius was captured by the British, whose possession of the island was confirmed 4 years later by the Treaty of Paris. French institutions, including the Napoleonic code of law, were maintained. The French language is still used more widely than English.

Mauritian Creoles trace their origins to the plantation owners and slaves who were brought to work the sugar fields. Indo-Mauritians are descended from Indian immigrants who arrived in the 19th century to work as indentured laborers after slavery was abolished in 1835. Included in the Indo-Mauritian community are Muslims (about 17% of the population) from the Indian subcontinent.

Franco-Mauritians control nearly all of the large sugar estates and are active in business and banking. As the Indian population became numerically dominant and the voting franchise was extended, political power shifted from the Franco-Mauritians and their Creole allies to the Hindus.

Elections in 1947 for the newly created Legislative Assembly marked Mauritius’ first steps toward self-rule. An independence campaign gained momentum after 1961, when the British agreed to permit additional self-government and eventual independence. A coalition composed of the Mauritian Labor Party (MLP), the Muslim Committee of Action (CAM), and the Independent Forward Bloc (IFB)—a traditionalist Hindu party—won a majority in the 1967 Legislative Assembly election, despite opposition from Franco-Mauritian and Creole supporters of Gaetan Duval's Mauritian Social Democratic Party (PMSD). The contest was interpreted locally as a referendum on independence. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, MLP leader and chief minister in the colonial government, became the first prime minister at independence, on March 12, 1968. This event was preceded by a period of communal strife, brought under control with assistance from British troops.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Mauritian politics are vibrant and characterized by coalition and alliance building. All parties are centrist and reflect a national consensus that supports democratic politics and a relatively open economy with a strong private sector. Parliamentary elections were held July 3, 2005.

Alone or in coalition, the Mauritian Labor Party (MLP) ruled from 1947 through 1982 and returned to power in 1995. The Mauritian Militant Movement/Mauritian Socialist Party (MMM/PSM) alliance won the 1982 election. In 1983, defectors from the MMM joined with the PSM to form the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM) and won a working majority. In July 1990, the MSM realigned with the MMM, and in September 1991, national elections won 59 of the 62 directly elected seats in parliament. In December 1995, the MLP returned to power, this time in coalition with the MMM. Labor's Navin-chandra Ramgoolam, son of the country's first prime minister, became prime minister himself. Ramgoolam dismissed his MMM coalition partners in mid-1997, leaving Labor in power except for several small parties allied with it. Elections in Septetember 2000 saw the re-emergence of the MSM-MMM as a winning alliance, as the coalition garnered 51.7% of the vote, and Sir Anerood Jugn-auth once again became the prime minister with the caveat that midterm, the leader of the MMM party would take over as prime minister. In September 2003, in keeping with the campaign promise which forged the coalition, Jugnauth stepped down from office and deputy prime minister Paul Raymond Berenger became prime minister. One month later, Sir Anerood Jugnauth was sworn in as President of the Republic. Berenger became the first Catholic, Franco-Mauritian to head the government. The move created an historic precedent of having a non-Hindu, non-majority member head the national government. The 2005 parliamentary elections returned Navinchandra Ramgoolam to office as prime minister.

Mauritius became a republic on March 12, 1992. The most immediate result was that a Mauritian-born president became head of state, replacing Queen Elizabeth II. Under the amended constitution, political power remained with parliament. The Council of Ministers (cabinet), responsible for the direction and control of the government, consists of the prime minister (head of government), the leader of the majority party in the legislature, and about 20 ministries.

The unicameral National Assembly has up to 70 deputies. Sixty-two are elected by universal suffrage, and as many as eight “best losers” are chosen from the runners-up by the Electoral Supervisory Commission using a formula designed to give at least minimal representation to all ethnic communities and under-represented parties. Elections are scheduled at least every 5 years.

Mauritian law is an amalgam of French and British legal traditions. The Supreme Court—a chief justice and five other judges—is the highest judicial authority. There is an additional right of appeal to the Queen's Privy Council. Local government has nine administrative divisions, with municipal and town councils in urban areas and district and village councils in rural areas. The island of Rodrigues forms the country's 10th administrative division.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

Pres.: Anerood JUGNAUTH, Sir

Prime Min.: Navinchandra RAMGOOLAM, Dr.

Dep. Prime Min.: Ahmed Rashid BEEBEEJAUN

Dep. Prime Min.: Charles Gaetan Xavier Luc DUVAL

Dep. Prime Min.: Ramakrishna SITHANEN

Min. of Agro Industry & Fisheries: Arvin BOOLELL

Min. of Arts & Culture: Mahendra GOWRESSOO

Min. of Civil Service & Admin. Reforms: Navinchandra RAMGOOLAM, Dr.

Min. of Defense & Home Affairs: Navinchandra RAMGOOLAM, Dr.

Min. of Education & Human Resources: Dharambeer GOKHOOL

Min. of Environment & National Development Unit: Anil Kumar BACHOO

Min. of Finance & Economic Development: Ramakrishna SITHANEN

Min. of Foreign Affairs, Intl. Trade, & Cooperation: Murlidhar Madun DULLOO

Min. of Health & Quality of Life: Satya Veyash FAUGOO

Min. of Housing & Lands: Mohammed Asraf Ally DULULL

Min. of Industry, Small & Medium Enterprises, Commerce, & Cooperatives: Rajeshwar JEETAH

Min. of Information Technology & Telecommunications: Marie Joseph Noel-Etienne Ghislain SINATAMBOU

Min. of Justice & Human Rights: Jayarama VALAYDEN

Min. of Labor, Industrial Relations, & Employment: Vasant Kumar BUN WAREE

Min. of Local Govt.: James Burty DAVID

Min. of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport, & Shipping: Ahmed Rashid BEEBEEJAUN

Min. of Public Utilities: Abu Twalib KASENALLY

Min. of Rodrigues & Outer Islands:Navinchandra RAMGOOLAM, Dr.

Min. of Social Security, National Solidarity, & Senior Citizen Welfare & Reform Institutions: Sheilabai BAPPOO

Min. of Tourism, Leisure, & External Communications: Charles Gaetan Xavier Luc DUVAL

Min. of Women's Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare, & Consumer Protection: Indranee SEEBUN

Min. of Youth & Sports: Sylvio Hock Sheen TANG WAH HING

Attorney Gen.: Jayarama VALAYDEN Governor, Central Bank: Rameswurlall Basant ROI

Ambassador to the US: Usha JEETAH

Permanent Representative to the UN, NewYork: Jagdish KOONJUL

Mauritius maintains an embassy at 4301 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, (tel. 202-244-1491).

ECONOMY

Mauritius has one of the most successful and competitive economies in Africa; 2006 GDP at market prices was estimated at $6.5 billion and per capita income at $5,214, one of the highest in Africa. The economy is based on tourism, textiles, sugar, and financial services. In recent years, information and communication technology (ICT) and seafood have emerged as important sectors of the economy, growing by an average of 40% last year. Over the past two decades, real output growth averaged just below 6% per year, leading to a more than doubling of per capita income and a marked improvement in social indicators. However, since 2002, the economy started to face some serious challenges as a result of globalization, involving the erosion of trade preferences for both textiles and sugar, two pillars of the economy. Economic growth declined to 3-4% while unemployment, government budget deficit, and public debt increased steadily.

The government that took office in July 2005 embarked on a bold economic reform program aimed at moving Mauritius from reliance on trade preferences to global competitiveness. The reform strategy, outlined in the FY 2006-2007 government budget, was designed not only to remedy fiscal weaknesses but also to open up the economy, facilitate business, improve the investment climate, and mobilize foreign direct investment and expertise. The reforms and the opening up of the economy have already started to positively impact the economy. GDP growth increased to 5% in 2006, and the same rate is expected in 2007.

In addition to encouraging the restructuring and modernization of the textile and sugar sectors, the government is putting much emphasis on the development of the ICT sector and the promotion of Mauritius as a seafood hub in the region, using existing logistics and distribution facilities at the Freeport (free trade zone at the port and airport). To further diversify the economic base and generate sustainable growth, the government is actively encouraging the following economic activities: (i) the land-based oceanic industry, (ii) hospitality and property development, (iii) healthcare and biomedical industry, (iv) agro-processing and biotechnology, and (v) the knowledge industry.

The business climate is friendly yet extremely competitive. The World Bank 2007 Doing Business Survey ranks Mauritius 32nd in the world and second in Africa for ease of doing business. Mauritius has a long tradition of private entrepreneurship, which has led to a strong and dynamic private sector. Firms entering the market will find a well-developed legal and commercial infrastructure. With regard to telecommunications, Mauritius has a well-developed digital infrastructure and offers state-of-the-art telecommunications facilities including international leased lines and high speed Internet access. Telecommunications services were liberalized in January 2003. The government policy is to act as a facilitator to business, leaving production to the private sector. However, it still controls key utility services directly or through parastatals, including electricity, water, waste water, postal services, and broadcasting. The State Trading Corporation controls imports of rice, flour, petroleum products, and cement.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Mauritius has strong and friendly relations with the West as well as with India and the countries of southern and eastern Africa. It is a member of the African Union (AU), World Trade Organization (WTO), the Commonwealth, La Francophonie, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the Indian Ocean Commission, Community of Eastern and South African States (COMESA), and the recently formed Indian Ocean Rim Association. In 2004, then-Prime Minister Berenger became chairman of SADC for a one-year term.

Trade, commitment to democracy, colonial and cultural ties, and the country's small size are driving forces behind Mauritian foreign policy. The country's political heritage and dependence on Western markets have led to close ties with the European Union and its member states, particularly the United Kingdom and France, which exercises sovereignty over neighboring Reunion.

Considered part of Africa geographically, Mauritius has friendly relations with other African states in the region, particularly South Africa, by far its largest continental trading partner. Mauritian investors are gradually entering African markets, notably Madagascar and Mozambique. Mauritius coordinates much of its foreign policy with the Southern Africa Development Community and the African Union.

Relations with India are strong for both historical and commercial reasons. Foreign embassies in Mauritius include Australia, the United Kingdom, China, Egypt, France, India, Madagascar, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, and the United States.

DEFENSE

Mauritius does not have a standing army. All military, police, and security functions are carried out by 10,000 active-duty personnel under the command of the Commissioner of Police. The 8,000-member National Police is responsible for domestic law enforcement. The 1,400-member Special Mobile Force (SMF) and the 688-member National Coast Guard are the only two paramilitary units in Mauritius. Both units are composed of police officers on lengthy rotations to those services.

The SMF is organized as a ground infantry unit and engages extensively in civic works projects. The Coast Guard has four patrol craft for search-and-rescue missions and surveillance of territorial waters. A 100-member police helicopter squadron assists in search-and-rescue operations. There also is a special supporting unit of 270 members trained in riot control.

Military advisers from the United Kingdom and India work with the SMF, the Coast Guard, and the Police Helicopter Unit, and Mauritian police officers are trained in the United Kingdom, India, and France. The United States provides training to Mauritian security officers in such fields as counter-terrorism methods, seamanship, and maritime law enforcement.

U.S.-MAURITIAN RELATIONS

Official U.S. representation in Mauritius dates from the end of the 18th century. An American consulate established in 1794 closed in 1911. It was reopened in 1967 and elevated to embassy status upon the country's independence in 1968. Since 1970, the mission has been directed by a resident U.S. ambassador.

Relations between the United States and Mauritius are cordial and largely revolve around trade. The United States is Mauritius’ third-largest market but ranks 12th in terms of exports to Mauritius. Principal imports from the U.S. include aircraft parts (for Air Mauritius), automatic data processing machines, diamonds, jewelry, radio/TV transmission apparatus, telecommunications equipment, agricultural/construction/ industrial machinery and equipment, casino slot machines, outboard motors, books and encyclopedias, and industrial chemicals.

Mauritian exports to the U.S. include apparel, sugar, non-industrial diamonds, jewelry articles, live animals, sunglasses, rum, and cut flowers. Mauritian products that meet the rules of origin are eligible for duty-and quota-free entry in the U.S. market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. In September 2006, the Governments of Mauritius and the United States signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement to remove impediments and further enhance trade and investment relations between the two countries.

More than 200 U.S. companies are represented in Mauritius. About 30 have offices in Mauritius, serving the domestic and/or the regional market, mainly in the information technology (IT), textile, fast food, express courier, and financial services sectors. The largest U.S. subsidiaries are Caltex Oil Mauritius and Esso Mauritius. U.S. brands are sold widely. Several U.S. franchises, notably Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, and McDonald's have been operating for a number of years in Mauritius.

The United States funds a small military assistance program. The embassy also manages special self-help funds for community groups and nongovernmental organizations and a democracy and human rights fund.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Last Updated : 2/19/2008

PORT LOUIS (E) 4th Floor Rogers House, John Kennedy St., Port Louis, Mauritius, (230) 202-4400, Fax (230) 208-9534, INMARSAT Tel 881631439038/881631439039, Work-week: M-Th: 0730-1645; F:0730-1230, Website: http://mauritius.usembassy.gov.

DCM OMS:Karen Miles
AMB OMS:Marcia Romero
DHS/CIS:Leslie A. Meeker
DHS/ICE:Hector Henao
FCS:Craig Allen
MGT:Tim Bashor
POL ECO:Quentin Barber
AMB:Cesar Cabrera
CON:Wendy Ryde
DCM:Virginia Blaser
PAO:Victoria Delong
RSO:Brian Roundy
AFSA:Victoria Delong
AGR:Scott Sindelar
CLO:Jodie Bashor
DAO:CDR Cecil (Chris) Bridges
DEA:Jeff Breeden
EEO:Victoria Delong
EST:Lisa Brodey
FAA:Moira Keane
FMO:James Inder
ICASS:Chair Virginia Blaser
IMO:Christopher House
IRS:Kathy Beck
ISSO:Christopher House
LAB:Randy Fleitman
LEGATT:Don Przybyla

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

December 14, 2007

Country Description: The Republic of Mauritius is a small island nation of four inhabited and several other islands located in the southwestern Indian Ocean. Mauritius has a stable government and a diverse economy. Its per capita GDP of $5,214 is the second highest in Africa. Facilities for tourism are well developed. In order of frequency, Creole, French, and English are spoken; English and French are common in the main towns and tourist areas but may not be understood in outlying villages. The capital city is Port Louis.

Entry Requirements: A valid passport, onward/return ticket, and proof of sufficient funds are required. Immigration authorities require the validity of the entrant's passport to be greater than six months upon both arrival and departure. Travelers must also provide a local address where they will be staying in Mauritius. Visas are issued at the point of entry. A tourist entry fee and the airport departure tax are included in the price of a plane ticket. Travelers coming from yellow fever-infected areas may be asked to present a yellow fever vaccination certificate. Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of Mauritius, 4301 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 441, Washington, DC 20008; telephone (202) 244-1491/2, or the Honorary Consulate in Los Angeles, telephone (310) 557-2009. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Mauritian embassy or consulate. Visit the web site of the Embassy of Mauritius for the most current visa information at http://www.maurinet.com/embasydc.html.

Safety and Security: Thefts in tourist areas are a concern, and visitors should keep track of their belongings at all times. Women are advised against walking alone, particularly on public beaches and at night. There has been an increase in reports of sexual assault and harassment of foreign travelers. Americans should avoid crowds and street demonstrations, and maintain a low profile. For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's web site, where the current World-wide Caution Travel Alert, Middle East and North Africa Travel Alert, Travel Warnings and other Travel Alerts can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.

Crime: Although violent crimes are uncommon, petty crime is a problem. There is potential for pick pocketing and purse snatching, especially in crowded areas. Residential break-ins are reported frequently on the island. Most break-ins are surreptitious and do not involve violence, however some burglars have brandished weapons, such as knives or machetes. Although uncommon, there have been reports of armed robbery and assault. It is unwise to walk alone at night outside the immediate grounds of hotels. All individuals should exercise caution on beaches and poorly lit or deserted areas at night.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical facilities are available, but more limited than in the United States. Emergency assistance is limited. While public hospitals and clinics provide free care, many visitors may choose to be treated by private doctors and hospitals. Service Aide Medicale Urgence (SAMU) is a government organization that provides ambulance and emergency assistance in response to calls to 114 (Address: Volcy Pougnet Street, Port Louis). MegaCare is a private organization that provides assistance to subscribers only (Address: 99 Draper Avenue, Quatre Bornes; phone: 116; 464-6116).

Outbreaks of the mosquito borne virus Chikungunya have occurred in recent years; however, very few cases have been reported in 2007. For more information, please see the CDC’ fact sheet on Chikungunya.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's web site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at www.who.int/ith/en.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Mauritius is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Driving is on the left side of the road. Roads are sometimes narrow and uneven with inadequate lighting, which makes night driving hazardous. Speed limits are posted in kilometers per hour, but all road and traffic signs are posted in English. Drivers and all passengers are required to wear seat belts. Drivers and passengers on motorcycles are required to wear helmets. Babies and toddlers should be placed in child safety seats. Many accidents occur due to excessive speed and violations of road regulations.

Drivers involved in an accident are required by law to remain at the scene until the police arrive. However, if an angry crowd gathers and those involved in the accident feel threatened, police and judicial authorities have in the past not taken action against drivers who leave the scene if they have proceeded directly to a police station. While there are organizations that provide emergency or roadside assistance, their resources and capabilities are limited and they are on occasion unable to respond in non-life threatening incidents. Public transportation by bus is available between the main towns until 11:00 p.m. and in remote areas until 6 p.m. Taxis are also available.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Mauritius, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Mauritius’ Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Spear fishing equipment may not be imported into Mauritius. Animals may be required to undergo a quarantine period of up to six months, depending on country of origin and residence history. Please contact the Mauritian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at (230) 464-5084 for specific information related to your pet.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Mauritius’ laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Mauritius are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registration and Embassy Locations: Americans living or traveling in Mauritius are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registration web site, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Mauritius. Americans without Internet access may register directly at the U.S. Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located on the fourth floor of the Rogers House on John F. Kennedy Street in Port Louis, telephone (230) 202-4400; fax (230) 208-9534. The Embassy email address is [email protected], and the web site is http://mauritius.usembassy.gov.

International Adoption

August 2007

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note : Immigrant visas for adopted Mauritian children are issued at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. For more information on scheduling a visa appointment, please see the immigrant visa page on the web site of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya at http://nairobi.usembassy.gov/wwwhinsl.html.

Patterns of Immigration: In the last five fiscal years no immigrant visas have been issued to Mauritian orphans.

Adoption Authority:
National Adoption Council (NAC)
3rd Floor Government Centre
Port Louis, Mauritius
Tel: (230) 201 3549; fax: 210 8151
Contact: Mrs. Baccha or Mrs. Purryag

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Adoptive parents must be at least 15 years older than the child. Adoptive parents may be single or married.

Residency Requirements: There are no residency requirements to complete an intercountry adoption in Mauritius.

Time Frame: The approval of the application takes approximately of 60 days, during which time the NAC verifies information regarding the biological child, including his actual home situation and information provided in the home study. There is an additional 15 days needed to complete court procedures for an adoption. If prospective parents are residing outside Mauritius, they may request a phone interview, but the Mauritian authorities view this as the exception rather than the rule. Adoptive parents will need to come to Mauritius at the time the adoption is brought before the judge for a decision.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: A lawyer may be needed to expedite matters. The U.S. Embassy in Port Louis has a list of attorneys who have indicated a willingness to work with U.S. citizens that can be made available upon request. Neither the U.S. Embassy nor the Department of State assumes any responsibility for the quality of services provided by these attorneys or their employees. Please see the Embassy's web page for a list of attorneys practicing in Mauritius. http://mauritiususembassy.gov/attorneys.html.

Adoption Fees: A non-refundable 5,000 Mauritian Rupees (MRs) application fee together with a guarantee fee of MRs 20,000, refundable upon completion of the adoption, must be sent with the application and supporting documents to the NAC.

Adoption Procedures: The Mauritian National Adoption Council does not match adoptable orphans with prospective adoptive parents. Adoptable children are located through personal contacts with families who are unable to care for their child and are willing to give up their child for adoption. Prospective adoptive parents are advised to verify ahead of time that their Mauritian prospective adoptive child meets the definition of “legal orphan” as defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 101(b)(1)(F).

The application for adoption is filed with the NAC. Once it is approved, the case is brought before a judge. The judge must approve the adoption. Adoptive parents are advised to consider retaining the services of an attorney to handle the judicial proceedings. Prospective adoptive parents must attend the adoption hearing in Mauritius.

Required Documents:

An application form for adoption must be filed at the National Adoption Council (NAC), along with the following documents:

  • 4 photos of the child duly endorsed by a lawyer (the lawyer confirms the photo is a true photo of the child being adopted);
  • Birth certificate of the child;
  • 2 comprehensive medical certificates for the child from two different child specialists;
  • Birth and marriage certificate(s) of the biological parents(if applicable);
  • Divorce decree of the biological parents, if applicable;
  • Medical certificate(s) of biological parents, if applicable;
  • 2 recent passport size photos of the biological parents;
  • Birth certificate(s) of prospective adoptive parents;
  • Marriage certificate of prospective adoptive parents, if applicable;
  • A home study from an adoption services provider in the United States;
  • Documentation of financial means of prospective adoptive parents;
  • If applicable, documents of ownership of a house/estate;
  • Report of any criminal record from the U.S. (U.S. state level will suffice);
  • If either of the prospective adoptive parents is unable to have a child, medical certificate documenting this fact must be submitted;
  • Guarantee that in case of an accident, a specified third party will take care of child;
  • Progress report of a Mauritian child adopted by applicants, if applicable. Note: This is a one time report if a previous adoption was done for a Mauritian child, and it is to be submitted upon application for the second Mauritian child.

Embassy of the Republic of Mauritius
4301 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.,
Suite 441
Washington, DC 20008
Tel.: (202) 244-1491/1492
Fax: (202) 966-098
E-mail: [email protected]

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy
4th floor, Rogers House
John Kennedy Avenue
Port Louis, Mauritius
Email: [email protected]
Tel:(230)202-4400
Fax:(230)208-9534

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Mauritius may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Port Louis. Questions about U.S. immigration procedures for adopted Mauritian children should be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

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Mauritius

MAURITIUS

Compiled from the January 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Mauritius


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

1,865 sq. km. (720 sq. mi.), about the size of Rhode Island; 500 miles east of Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean.

Dependencies:

Rodrigues Island, the Agalega Islands and Cargados Carajos Shoals; Mauritius also claims sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago, part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, where U.S. Naval Support Facility at Diego Garcia is located.

Cities:

Capital—Port Louis (pop. 146,319). Other cities—Beau Bassin and Rose Hill (105,377), Vacoas Phoenix (101,789), Curepipe (82,756), Quatre Bornes (77,145).

Terrain:

Volcanic island surrounded by coral reefs. A central plateau is rimmed by mountains.

Climate:

Tropical; cyclone season mid-December-April.

People

Nationality:

Noun and adjective—Mauritian(s).

Population (2003):

1,228,965, including Rodrigues, Agalega, and St. Brandon.

Avg. annual population growth (2001):

1%. Density—602/sq. km.

Ethnic groups:

Indo-Mauritians 68%, Creoles 27%, Sino-Mauritians 3%, Franco-Mauritians 2%.

Religion:

Hindu, Roman Catholic, Muslim.

Language:

Creole (common), French, English (official), Hindi, Urdu, Hakka, Bhojpuri.

Education:

Years compulsory—6 (primary school). Attendance (primary school)—virtually universal. Literacy—adult population 85%; school population 90%.

Health (2001):

Infant mortality rate—13.2/1000. Life expectancy—male 68.6 yrs., female 75.5 yrs.

Work force (2003, 549,500):

Manufacturing—27%; trade and tourism—19.6%; government services—11%; agriculture and fishing—9.4%; other—33%.

Government

Type:

Republic.

Independence:

March 12, 1968 (became a republic in 1992).

Constitution:

March 12, 1968.

Branches:

Executive—president (head of state), prime minister (head of government), Council of Ministers. Legislative—Unicameral National Assembly. Judicial—Supreme Court.

Administrative subdivisions:

10.

Major political parties:

MSM-MMM Alliance (Militant Socialist Movement and Mauritian Militant Movement) and the Social Alliance (made up of several parties, including the Mauritian Labor Party).

Suffrage:

Universal over 18.

Defense (2000):

1.7% of GDP.

Economy

GDP (2004):

$6 billion.

Real growth rate (2004):

4.6%.

Per capita income (2004):

$4,900.

Avg. inflation rate (2004):

4.8%.

Natural resources:

None.

Agriculture (6.2% of GDP):

Products—sugar, sugar derivatives, tea, tobacco, vegetables, fruits, flowers and fishing.

Manufacturing, including export processing zone (21.5% of GDP):

Types—labor-intensive goods for export, including textiles and clothing, watches and clocks, jewelry, optical goods, toys and games, and cut flowers.

Tourism sector (5.8% of GDP):

Main countries of origin—France, including nearby French island Reunion, South Africa, and west European countries.

Financial services:

10% of GDP.

Trade (2003):

Exports—$1.9 billion: textiles and clothing, sugar, canned tuna, watches and clocks, jewelry, optical goods, toys and games, and flowers. Major markets—Europe and the U.S. Imports—$2.3 billion: meat, dairy products, fish, wheat, rice, wheat flour, vegetable oil, petroleum products, iron and steel, cement, fertilizers, machinery and transport equipment, and textile industry raw materials. Major suppliers—South Africa, France, China, India, U.K., Japan, Australia, and Germany.

Fiscal year:

July 1-June 30.


HISTORY

While Arab and Malay sailors knew of Mauritius as early as the 10th century AD and Portuguese sailors first visited in the 16th century, the island was first colonized in 1638 by the Dutch. Mauritius was populated over the next few centuries by waves of traders, planters and their slaves, indentured laborers, merchants, and artisans. The island was named in honor of Prince Maurice of Nassau by the Dutch, who abandoned the colony in 1710.

The French claimed Mauritius in 1715 and renamed it Ile de France. It became a prosperous colony under the French East India Company. The French Government took control in 1767, and the island served as a naval and privateer base during the Napoleonic wars. In 1810, Mauritius was captured by the British, whose possession of the island was confirmed 4 years later by the Treaty of Paris. French institutions, including the Napoleonic code of law, were maintained. The French language is still used more widely than English.

Mauritian Creoles trace their origins to the plantation owners and slaves who were brought to work the sugar fields. Indo-Mauritians are descended from Indian immigrants who arrived in the 19th century to work as indentured laborers after slavery was abolished in 1835. Included in the Indo-Mauritian community are Muslims (about 17% of the population) from the Indian subcontinent.

Franco-Mauritians control nearly all of the large sugar estates and is active in business and banking. As the Indian population became numerically dominant and the voting franchise was extended, political power shifted from the Franco-Mauritians and their Creole allies to the Hindus. Elections in 1947 for the newly created Legislative Assembly marked Mauritius' first steps toward self rule. An independence campaign gained momentum after 1961, when the British agreed to permit additional self-government and eventual independence. A coalition composed of the Mauritian Labor Party (MLP), the Muslim Committee of Action (CAM), and the Independent Forward Bloc (IFB)—a traditionalist Hindu party—won a majority in the 1967 Legislative Assembly election, despite opposition from Franco-Mauritian and Creole supporters of Gaetan Duval's Mauritian Social Democratic Party (PMSD). The contest was interpreted locally as a referendum on independence. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, MLP leader and chief minister in the colonial government, became the first prime minister at independence, on March 12, 1968. This event was preceded by a period of communal strife, brought under control with assistance from British troops.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Mauritian politics are vibrant and characterized by coalition and alliance building. All parties are centrist and reflect a national consensus that supports democratic politics and a relatively open economy with a strong private sector. Parliamentary elections were held July 3, 2005.

Alone or in coalition, the Mauritian Labor Party (MLP) ruled from 1947 through 1982 and returned to power in 1995. The Mauritian Militant Movement/Mauritian Socialist Party (MMM/PSM) alliance won the 1982 election. In 1983, defectors from the MMM joined with the PSM to form the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM) and won a working majority. In July 1990, the MSM realigned with the MMM, and in September 1991, national elections won 59 of the 62 directly elected seats in parliament. In December 1995, the MLP returned to power, this time in coalition with the MMM. Labor's Navin Chandra Ramgoolam, son of the country's first prime minister, became prime minister himself. Ramgoolam dismissed his MMM coalition partners in mid-1997, leaving Labor in power except for several small parties allied with it. Elections in September 2000 saw the re-emergence of the MSM-MMM as a winning alliance, as the coalition garnered 51.7% of the vote, and Sir Anerood Jugnauth once again became the prime minister with the caveat that midterm, the leader of the MMM party would take over as prime minister. In September 2003, in keeping with the campaign promise which forged the coalition, Jugnauth stepped down from office and deputy prime minister Paul Raymond Berenger became prime minister. One month later, Sir Anerood Jugnauth was sworn in as President of the Republic. Berenger became the first Catholic, Franco Mauritian to head the government. The move created an historic precedent of having a non-Hindu, nonmajority member head the national government. The 2005 parliamentary elections returned Navin Chandra Ramgoolam to office as prime minister.

Mauritius became a republic on March 12, 1992. The most immediate result was that a Mauritian-born president became head of state, replacing Queen Elizabeth II. Under the amended constitution, political power remained with parliament. The Council of Ministers (cabinet), responsible for the direction and control of the government, consists of the prime minister (head of government), the leader of the majority party in the legislature, and about 20 ministries.

The unicameral National Assembly has up to 70 deputies. Sixty-two are elected by universal suffrage, and as many as eight "best losers" are chosen from the runners-up by the Electoral Supervisory Commission using a formula designed to give at least minimal representation to all ethnic communities and under-represented parties. Elections are scheduled at least every 5 years.

Mauritian law is an amalgam of French and British legal traditions. The Supreme Court—a chief justice and five other judges—is the highest judicial authority. There is an additional right of appeal to the Queen's Privy Council. Local government has nine administrative divisions, with municipal and town councils in urban areas and district and village councils in rural areas. The island of Rodrigues forms the country's 10th administrative division.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 8/30/2005

President: Anerood JUGNAUTH, Sir
Prime Minister: Navinchandra RAMGOOLAM, Dr.
Dep. Prime Min.: Ahmed Rashid BEEBEEJAUN
Dep. Prime Min.: Charles Gaetan Xavier Luc DUVAL
Dep. Prime Min.: Rama Kirshna SITHANEN
Min. of Agro Industry & Fisheries: Arvin BOOLELL
Min. of Arts & Culture: Mahendra GOWRESSOO
Min. of Civil Service & Administrative Reforms: Navinchandra RAMGOOLAM, Dr.
Min. of Defense & Home Affairs: Navinchandra RAMGOOLAM, Dr.
Min. of Education & Human Resources: Dharambeer GOKHOOL
Min. of Environment & National Development Unit: Anil Kumar BACHOO
Min. of Finance & Economic Development: Rama Kirshna SITHANEN
Min. of Foreign Affairs, International Trade, & Cooperation: Murlidhar Madun DULLOO
Min. of Health & Quality of Life: Satya Veyash FAUGOO
Min. of Housing & Lands: Mohammed Asraf Ally DULULL
Min. of Industry, Small & Medium Enterprises, Commerce, & Cooperatives: Rajeshwar JEETAH
Min. of Information Technology & Telecommunications: Marie Joseph Noel-Etienne Ghislain SINATAMBOU
Min. of Justice & Human Rights: Jayarama VALAYDEN

Min. of Labor, Industrial Relations, & Employment: Vasant Kumar BUNWAREE
Min. of Local Govt.: James Burty DAVID
Min. of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport, & Shipping: Ahmed Rashid BEEBEEJAUN
Min. of Public Utilities: Abu Twalib KASENALLY
Min. of Rodrigues & Outer Islands: Navinchandra RAMGOOLAM, Dr.
Min. of Social Security, National Solidarity, & Senior Citizen Welfare & Reform Institutions: Sheilabai BAPPOO
Min. of Tourism, Leisure, & External Communications: Charles Gaetan Xavier Luc DUVAL
Min. of Women's Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare, & Consumer Protection: Indranee SEEBUN
Min. of Youth & Sports: Sylvio Hock Sheen TANG WAH HING
Attorney General: Jayarama VALAYDEN
Governor, Central Bank: Rameswurlall Basant ROI
Ambassador to the US: Usha JEETAH
Permanent Representative to the UN, NewYork: Jagdish KOONJUL

Mauritius maintains an embassy at 4301 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, (tel. 202-244-1491).


ECONOMY

Mauritius has one of the strongest economies in Africa; although final figures are not yet available, 2004 GDP at market prices is estimated at $6 billion and per capita income at $4,900. Over the past two decades, real output growth averaged just below 6% per year, leading to a more than doubling of per capita income and a marked improvement in social indicators. Economic growth was first driven by sugar, then textiles and tourism, and more recently by financial services (particularly offshore companies). The information and communications technology (ICT) sector is now emerging as the fifth pillar of the economy, following massive investment by government in the last three years in related infrastructure (the newly built Ebene Cyber City is one example) and training.

However, the economy is now facing some serious challenges, including the decline in the rate of economic growth, increasing unemployment, an increasing public sector deficit, and an increasing domestic debt. In 2003, GDP grew by 4.3%, up from 1.8% in 2002 when sugar production was diminished by a hurricane. Although final figures are not yet available, the growth rate for 2004 is estimated at 4.6%. However, this is still below the average growth rate of the past two decades.

Mauritius stands today at the crossroads of its future development. The main engines of growth in the Mauritian economy, namely the sugar and textile industries, are faced with the erosion of preferential trade arrangements stemming from the proposed reforms of the European Union sugar regime, the phasing out of the Multi Fiber Agreement, and the increasing trend towards the globalization of world trade. The prospects of intensified global competition from low-wage countries (particularly China and India) and limited future opportunities for preferential trade arrangements represent serious constraints on future growth.

Realizing the need to diversify the economy, Mauritius has embarked on an ambitious development strategy to find new drivers for economic growth. The government is putting emphasis on the development of the ICT sector and the promotion of Mauritius as a seafood hub in the region, using existing facilities at the Freeport (free trade zones at the port and airport). Measures are also being taken to modernize and restructure the sugar and textile sectors through better technology and greater capitalization.

The business climate is friendly yet extremely competitive. Mauritius has a long tradition of private entrepreneurship, which has led to a strong and dynamic private sector. Firms entering the market will find a well-developed legal and commercial infrastructure. With regard to telecommunications, Mauritius has a well-developed digital infrastructure and offers state-of-the-art telecommunications facilities including international leased lines and high speed Internet access. Telecommunications services were liberalized in January 2003. The government policy is to act as a facilitator to business, leaving production to the private sector. However, it still controls key utility services directly or through parastatals, including electricity, water, waste water, postal services, and broadcasting. The State Trading Corporation controls imports of rice, flour, petroleum products, and cement.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Mauritius has strong and friendly relations with the West as well as with India and the countries of southern and eastern Africa. It is a member of the African Union (AU), World Trade Organization (WTO), the Commonwealth, La Francophonie, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the Indian Ocean Commission, Community of Eastern and South African States (COMESA), and the recently formed Indian Ocean Rim Association. In 2004, then-Prime Minister Berenger became chairman of SADC for a one-year term.

Trade, commitment to democracy, colonial and cultural ties, and the country's small size are driving forces behind Mauritian foreign policy. The country's political heritage and dependence on Western markets have led to close ties with the European Union and its member states, particularly the United Kingdom and France, which exercises sovereignty over neighboring Reunion.

Considered part of Africa geographically, Mauritius has friendly relations with other African states in the region, particularly South Africa, by far its largest continental trading partner. Mauritian investors are gradually entering African markets, notably Madagascar and Mozambique. Mauritius coordinates much of its foreign policy with the Southern Africa Development Community and the African Union.

Relations with India are strong for both historical and commercial reasons. Foreign embassies in Mauritius include Australia, the United Kingdom, China, Egypt, France, India, Madagascar, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, and the United States.


DEFENSE

Mauritius does not have a standing army. All military, police, and security functions are carried out by 10,000 active-duty personnel under the command of the Commissioner of Police. The 8,000-member National Police is responsible for domestic law enforcement. The 1,400-member Special Mobile Force (SMF) and the 688-member National Coast Guard are the only two paramilitary units in Mauritius. Both units are composed of police officers on lengthy rotations to those services.

The SMF is organized as a ground infantry unit and engages extensively in civic works projects. The Coast Guard has four patrol craft for search-and-rescue missions and surveillance of territorial waters. A 100-member police helicopter squadron assists in search-and-rescue operations. There also is a special supporting unit of 270 members trained in riot control.

Military advisers from the United Kingdom and India work with the SMF, the Coast Guard, and the Police Helicopter Unit, and Mauritian police officers are trained in the United Kingdom, India, and France. The United States provides training to Mauritian security officers in such fields as counter-terrorism methods, seamanship, and maritime law enforcement.


U.S.-MAURITIAN RELATIONS

Official U.S. representation in Mauritius dates from the end of the 18th century. An American consulate established in 1794 closed in 1911. It was reopened in 1967 and elevated to embassy status upon the country's independence in 1968. Since 1970, the mission has been directed by a resident U.S. ambassador.

Relations between the United States and Mauritius are cordial and largely revolve around trade. The United States is Mauritius' third-largest market but ranks 12th in terms of exports to Mauritius. Principal imports from the U.S. include aircraft parts (for Air Mauritius), automatic data processing machines, diamonds, jewelry, radio/TV transmission apparatus, telecommunications equipment, agricultural/construction/industrial machinery and equipment, casino slot machines, outboard motors, books and encyclopedias, and industrial chemicals.

Mauritian exports to the U.S. include apparel, sugar, non-industrial diamonds, jewelry articles, live animals, sunglasses, and cut flowers. The United States is the number one market for Mauritian garments. It emerged as the single largest market for shirts and trousers in 2002 and 2003. In November 2004 the U.S. Congress exempted Mauritius for one year from the third country fabric provision under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This exemption is expected to give a further boost to Mauritian export of apparel to the United States.

More than 200 U.S. companies are represented in Mauritius. About 35 have offices in Mauritius, serving the domestic and/or the regional market, mainly in the information technology (IT), textile, fast food, express courier, and financial services sectors. The largest U.S. subsidiaries are Caltex Oil Mauritius and Esso Mauritius. U.S. brands are sold widely. Several U.S. franchises, notably Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, McDonald's, and Toys R Us have opened in recent years.

The United States funds a small military assistance program. The embassy also manages special self-help funds for community groups and nongovernmental organizations and a democracy and human rights fund.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

PORT LOUIS (E) Address: 4th Floor Rogers House, Port Louis, Mauritius; Phone: (230) 202-4400; Fax: (230) 208-9534; INMARSAT Tel: 881631439038/881631439039; Work-week: M-Th: 0730-1645; F:0730-1230; Website: http://mauritius.usembassy.gov.

AMB:vacant
AMB OMS:vacant
DCM:Stephen Schwartz
DCM/CHG:Stephen Schwartz
DCM OMS:Ellen Brooks
POL:Margaret Hsiang
CON:Margaret Hsiang
MGT:Judith Semilota
CLO:Henry Semilota
CUS:E.J. Chong
DAO:Cathy Ripley
DEA:Jeff Wagner
ECO/COM:Melissa Brown
EST:Unknown
FAA:Ed Jones
FCS:Johnnie Brown
FMO:Kemp Long
ICASS Chair:Stephen Schwartz
IMO:Hava Hegenbarth
INS:Robert Ballow
ISSO:Hava Hegenbarth
LAB:Unknown
LEGATT:Mike Bonner
PAO:Victoria DeLong
RSO:Brian Roundy
Last Updated: 11/25/2005

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

March 17, 2005

Country Description:

The Republic of Mauritius is a small island nation of three inhabited and several other islands located in the southwestern Indian Ocean. Mauritius has a stable government and growing economy. Facilities for tourism are well developed. In order of frequency, Creole, French, and English are spoken; English and French are common in the main towns and tourist areas but may not be understood in outlying villages. The capital city is Port Louis.

Entry Requirements:

A valid passport, onward/return ticket, and proof of sufficient funds are required. Travelers must also provide a local address where they will be staying in Mauritius. Visas are issued at the point of entry. A tourist entry fee and the airport departure tax are included in the price of a plane ticket. Travelers coming from yellow fever infected areas may be asked to present a yellow fever vaccination certificate. Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of Mauritius, 4301 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 441, Washington, D.C. 20008; telephone (202) 244-1491/2, or the Honorary Consulate in Los Angeles, telephone (310) 557-2009. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Mauritian embassy or consulate.

Safety and Security:

Thefts on public beaches are a concern, and visitors should keep track of their belongings at all times. Women, in particular, are advised against walking alone, particularly on public beaches and at night. Americans should avoid crowds and street demonstrations, and maintain a low profile.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime:

Although violent crimes are uncommon, petty crime is a problem. There is a potential for pick-pocketing and purse snatching at the central market, crowded outdoor shopping areas, and around the waterfront in Port Louis. Residential breakins are reported more frequently in the northern part of the island where there are also many tourist resorts. Most breakins are surreptitious and do not involve violence. However, some burglars have brandished weapons, such as knives or machetes. In late 2004, there were reports of tourists being robbed at knife point in Port Louis. It is unwise to walk alone at night outside the immediate grounds of hotels.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Other Health Information:

Medical facilities are available, but more limited than in the United States. Emergency assistance is limited. While public hospitals and clinics provide free care, many visitors may choose to be treated by private doctors and hospitals. Service Aide Medicale Urgence (SAMU) is a government organization that provides ambulance and emergency assistance in response to calls to 114 (Address: Volcy Pougnet Street, Port Louis). MegaCare is a private organization that provides assistance to subscribers only (Address: 99 Draper Avenue, Quatre Bornes; phone: 116; 464-6116).

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Mauritius is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Driving is on the left side of the road. Roads are sometimes narrow and uneven with inadequate lighting, which makes night driving hazardous. Speed limits are posted in kilometers per hour, but all road and traffic signs are posted in English. Drivers and front-seat passengers are required to wear seat belts. Drivers and passengers on motorcycles are required to wear helmets. Babies and toddlers should be placed in child safety seats. Many accidents occur due to excessive speed and violations of road regulations.

Drivers involved in an accident are required by law to remain at the scene until the police arrive. However, if an angry crowd gathers and those involved in the accident feel threatened, police and judicial authorities have in the past not taken action against drivers who leave the scene if they have proceeded directly to a police station. While there are organizations that provide emergency or roadside assistance, their resources and capabilities are limited and they are on occasion unable to respond in non-life threatening incidents.

Public transportation by bus is available between the main towns until 11:00 p.m. and in remote areas until 6 p.m. Taxis are also available.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Mauritius, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Mauritius's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Special Circumstances:

Spearfishing equipment may not be imported into Mauritius. All warm-blooded animals must undergo a minimum quarantine period of six months.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Mauritius laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Mauritius are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location:

Americans living or traveling in Mauritius are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Mauritius. Americans without internet access may register directly at the U.S. Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy located on the fourth floor of the Rogers House on John F. Kennedy Street in Port Louis, telephone (230) 202-4400; fax (230) 208-9534. The Embassy email address is [email protected], and its website is http://Mauritius.usembassy.gov.

International Adoption

January 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer:

The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note:

Immigrant visas for adopted Mauritian orphans are issued at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. For more information on scheduling a visa appointment, please see the immigrant visa page on the Web site for the U.S. Embassy in Kenya at http://nairobi.usembassy.gov/wwwhins1.html.

Patterns of Immigration of Adopted Orphans to the U.S.:

In the last five fiscal years only one immigrant visa was issued to a Mauritian orphan.

Adoption Authority in Mauritius:

National Adoption Council (NAC); 3rd Floor Govt Centre; Port Louis; Tel: (230) 201 3549; fax: 210 8151. Contact: Mrs. Baccha or Mrs. Clementine.

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents:

adoptive parents must be at least 15 years older than the child. Adoptive parents may be single or married.

Residency Requirements:

There are no residency requirements to complete an international adoption in Mauritius.

Time Frame:

The approval of the application takes approximately of 60 days, during which time inquiries are made by the NAC. There is an additional 15 days needed to complete court procedures for an adoption. If prospective parents are residing abroad, they may ask to be interviewed by phone, but this is in exceptional cases. Adoptive parents will need to come to Mauritius at the time the adoption is brought before the judge for a decision.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys:

A lawyer may be needed to expedite matters.

The U.S. Embassy in Port Louis has a list of attorneys that can be made available upon request. Neither the U.S. Embassy nor the Department of State assumes any responsibility for the quality of services provided by these attorneys or their employees.

Adoption Fees in Mauritius:

A non-refundable Mauritian Rupees (MRs) 5,000 application fee together with a guarantee fee of MRs 20,000, refundable upon completion of the adoption, must be sent with the application and relative documents to the NAC.

Adoption Procedures:

The Mauritian National Adoption Council (see below) does not match adoptable orphans with prospective adoptive parents. Adoptable children are located through personal contacts with families who are unable to care for their child and are willing to give up their child for adoption. Prospective adoptive parents are advised to verify that their Mauritian prospective adoptive child meets the definition of "legal orphan" as defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 101(b)(1)(f).

The application for adoption is filed with the NAC. Once it is approved, the case is brought before a judge. The judge must approve the adoption. Adoptive parents are advised to consider retaining the services of an attorney to handle the judicial proceedings.

Documentary Requirements For the Mauritian Adoption:

An application for adoption must be filed at the National Adoption Council (NAC), along with the following documents:

  • 2 photos of the child duly endorsed by a lawyer (the lawyer confirms the photo is a true photo of the child being adopted);
  • Birth certificate of the child;
  • 2 comprehensive medical certificates from two different physicians;
  • Birth certificate of biological parents (if possible);
  • Birth certificate of applicants;
  • Marriage certificate of applicants;
  • A home study from the US (from an adoption services provider in the US);
  • Financial evidence;
  • If applicable, documents of ownership of a house/estate;
  • Report of any criminal record from the US;
  • If the wife is unable to have a child, medical certificate must be submitted;
  • Guarantee that in case of an accident, a third party will take care of child.

Authenticating U.S. Documents to be Used Abroad:

All U.S. documents submitted to the Mauritius government/court must be authenticated. For additional information about authentication procedures, see the "Judicial Assistance" page of the Bureau of Consular Affairs Web site at http://travel.state.gov.

Mauritian Embassy in the United States:

Embassy of the Republic of Mauritius 4301 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.,
Suite 441
Washington DC 20008
Tel.: (202) 244 1491/1492
Fax: (202) 966-0983
email: [email protected]

U.S. Embassy in Mauritius:

4th floor, Rogers House
John Kennedy Avenue
Port Louis, Mauritius
Email: [email protected] Tel:(230)202-4400 Fax:(230)208-9534

U.S. Immigration Requirements:

A child adopted by a U.S. citizen must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the U.S. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

Additional Information:

Specific questions about adoption in a particular country may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in that country. General questions regarding international adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-404-4747.

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Mauritius

Mauritius

1 Location and Size

2 Topography

3 Climate

4 Plants and Animals

5 Environment

6 Population

7 Migration

8 Ethnic Groups

9 Languages

10 Religions

11 Transportation

12 History

13 Government

14 Political Parties

15 Judicial System

16 Armed Forces

17 Economy

18 Income

19 Industry

20 Labor

21 Agriculture

22 Domesticated Animals

23 Fishing

24 Forestry

25 Mining

26 Foreign Trade

27 Energy and Power

28 Social Development

29 Health

30 Housing

31 Education

32 Media

33 Tourism and Recreation

34 Famous Mauritians

35 Bibliography

Republic of Mauritius

CAPITAL: Port Louis

FLAG: The national flag consists of four horizontal stripes of red, blue, yellow, and green.

ANTHEM: Glory to Thee, Motherland, O Motherland of Mine.

MONETARY UNIT: The Mauritius rupee (R) is a currency of 100 cents. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents and 1 rupee, and notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 rupees. R1 = $0.03432 (or $1 = R29.14) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is in general use; traditional weights and measures also are employed.

HOLIDAYS: New Year, 1–2 January; National Day, 12 March; Labor Day, 1 May. Christian, Hindu, and Muslim holidays also are observed.

TIME: 4 pm = noon GMT.

1 Location and Size

Mauritius, located in the Indian Ocean off the African coast, includes the island of Rodrigues, the two islands of Agalega, and the Saint Brandon Group (Cargados Carajos Shoals). The total land area is about 2,040 square kilometers (788 square miles). Comparatively, the area occupied by Mauritius is slightly less than 10.5 times the size of Washington, D.C. It has a coastline of 177 kilometers (110 miles). The capital city of Mauritius, Port Louis, is located on the island’s northwest coast.

2 Topography

Mauritius was mostly formed by volcanoes and is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs. A coastal plain rises sharply to a plateau 275 to 580 meters (900 to 1,900 feet) high. Mont Piton (Piton de la Rivière Noire Peak), the highest peak, reaches 828 meters (2,717 feet). The lowest point is at sea level (Indian Ocean). The longest river is the Grand River South East, with a total length of 40 kilometers (25 miles).

3 Climate

The climate of Mauritius is humid, with temperatures ranging from 18–30°c (64–86°f) at sea level, and from 13–26°c (55–79°f) at an

GEOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Geographic Features

Area: 2,040 sq km (788 sq mi)

Size ranking: 170 of 194

Highest elevation: 828 meters (2,717 feet) at Mont Piton (Piton de la Rivière Noire Peak)

Lowest elevation: Sea level at the Indian Ocean

Land Use*

Arable land: 49%

Permanent crops: 3%

Other: 48%

Weather**

Average annual precipitation: 196.5 centimeters (77.4 inches)

Average temperature in January: 26°c (78.8°f)

Average temperature in July: 20.7°c (69.3°f)

* Arable Land: Land used for temporary crops, like meadows for mowing or pasture, gardens, and greenhouses.

Permanent crops: Land cultivated with crops that occupy its use for long periods, such as cocoa, coffee, rubber, fruit and nut orchards, and vineyards.

Other: Any land not specified, including built-on areas, roads, and barren land.

** The measurements for precipitation and average temperatures were taken at weather stations closest to the country’s largest city.

Precipitation and average temperature can vary significantly within a country, due to factors such as latitude, altitude, coastal proximity, and wind patterns.

elevation of 460 meters (1,500 feet). The central plateau and windward slopes have a yearly average rainfall of more than 500 centimeters (200 inches). On the coast, rainfall averages about 100 centimeters (40 inches) annually.

4 Plants and Animals

Mauritius originally was covered by dense rain-forest, but its present vegetation consists mostly of species brought by settlers. Mauritius is the home of two indigenous snakes, the Boleyria multicarinata and Casarea dussumieri. Also indigenous to Mauritius was the now extinct dodo bird, one of many exotic animal species that thrived in isolation from predators, including man. European settlers introduced dogs, cats, rats, monkeys, wild pigs, and mongoose.

5 Environment

The main environmental problems facing Mauritius are water pollution, soil erosion, and preservation of its wildlife. The sources of water pollution are sewage and agricultural chemicals. The erosion of the soil occurs through deforestation.

As of 2003, only about 7.8% of the nation’s total land area is protected. In 2006, 3 species of mammals, 13 species of birds, 5 species of reptiles, and 87 species of plants were all threatened. Endangered species on the island of Mauritius include the pink pigeon, green sea turtle, and Mauritius varieties of kestrel and parakeet. Endangered species on Rodrigues include distinctive varieties of flying fox and day gecko. Extinct species include the Mauritian duck, Mauritius blue pigeon, red rail, Rodrigues little owl, and giant day gecko.

6 Population

The total population of Mauritius was estimated at 1.2 million in 2005; only about 2% of the population lives on the island of Rodrigues. A total population of 1.4 million is projected for the year 2025. Port Louis, the capital, had 143,000 inhabitants in 2005.

7 Migration

A small number of Mauritians emigrate each year, mostly to Australia, Europe, and Canada. In 2000, the number of migrants living in Mauritius was 8,000. In 2003, the estimated net migration rate was -0.41 per 1,000 population in 2005.

8 Ethnic Groups

The largest group of Mauritians, about 68%, is Indo-Mauritian, consisting of immigrants from India and their descendants. About 27% of the islanders are Creole (mixed European and African), 3% are Sino-Mauritian, and 2% are Franco-Mauritian.

9 Languages

English is the official language; however, Creole, derived from French, is most widely spoken. On Rodrigues, virtually the entire population speaks Creole. Bojpoori, Hindi, Urdu, and Hakka are also widely spoken. Only a small minority speak English as a first language.

10 Religions

According to a 2000 census, Hindus make up about 50% of the total population. Christians make up about 32%, with a vast majority affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church (about 85% of all Christians). Most Christians live in the southern portion of the country while the north tends to be predominantly Hindu. About 16% of the population are Muslims, with a majority being Sunni. There are a small number of Buddhists.

11 Transportation

Mauritius had an estimated 2,254 kilometers (1,402 miles) of roads in 2003, all of which were

BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Name: Navinchandra Ramgoolam

Position: Prime minister of a parliamentary democracy

Took Office: 5 July 2005

Birthdate: 13 July 1947

Religion: Hindu

Education: Doctorate and law degree

Of interest: He also served as prime minister from 1995–2000.

paved. As of 2003, there were 39,412 commercial vehicles and 101,436 private passenger cars. The eight merchant ships in service had a combined capacity of 22,946 gross registered tons in 2005. In 1999, the Port Louis harbor completed a major expansion and modernization. Also in 2001, there were five airports, only two of which had paved runways. In 2003, one million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international flights.

12 History

The Dutch, under Admiral Wybrandt van Warwijck, first arrived in Mauritius in 1598, and settlers followed in 1638. In 1715, however, the French took possession of Mauritius. The island was governed by the French East India Company until 1767, and by the French government for the next 43 years.

During the Napoleonic wars, French-held Mauritius became a major threat to British shipping in the Indian Ocean, and Britain occupied it in 1810. Although under British rule, Mauritius remains French in culture.

When slavery was abolished in the British Empire in the 1830s, many former slaves left Mauritius for Africa, causing a labor shortage. From 1837 to 1907, indentured workers were imported to Mauritius from India. About 450,000 Indians went to Mauritius under this system. Since 1948, politicians of Indian descent have dominated the government.

Mauritius became independent on 12 March 1968. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, chief minister in the colonial government, became the first prime minister after independence. Ramgoolam’s Mauritius Labor Party held power alone, or in coalition with others, until June 1982, when a coalition known as the Militant Socialist Movement formed a government. Its leader, Anerood Jugnauth, became prime minister.

Elections in August 1983 produced a clear mandate for a new coalition forged by Jugnauth, which won clear-cut electoral victories in August 1987 and September 1991. The new alliance amended the constitution, making Mauritius a republic within the British Commonwealth. Since 12 March 1992, a Mauritian president (chief of state) has held authority, rather than Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. Jugnauth held the position of prime minister until 1995, when Navinchandra Ramgoolam won the election, but Jugnauth regained the office in September 2000. Following the elections of October 2003, Anerood Jugnauth was president; in the elections of July 2005, Navinchandra Ramgoolam of the Social Alliance defeated Paul Berenger of the Mauritian Militant Movement to become prime minister.

Mauritius is one of a few sub-Saharan African countries to attain the rank of middle-income status and rule by constitutional process—the country has had only three prime ministers since independence.

13 Government

The Mauritian government is parliamentary, with executive power vested under the constitution in a president and a prime minister, who is leader of the majority party in parliament.

There are nine administrative districts and three dependencies, of which the Island of Rodrigues is one. The other dependencies are the Agalega Islands and Carajos Shoals. The lowest level of local government is the village council, and above the village councils are three district councils. Commissions govern the major towns.

14 Political Parties

The Mauritius Labor Party (MLP) received popular support from 1947 through 1982. In the 1982 elections, the MMM (Mauritian Militant Movement) captured 42 seats in parliament and joined the Mauritian Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste Mauricien—PSM) in a ruling coalition under Anerood Jugnauth. Jugnauth’s government fell apart in the early months of 1983, and he then formed the Mauritian Socialist Movement (Mouvement Socialiste Mauricien—MSM).

Following the reconfiguration of an opposition alliance comprising Anerood Jugnauth’s MSM and Paul Bérenger’s MMM, the coalition successfully swept the 11 September 2000, winning 52.3% of the vote and 54 seats in parliament.

In 2005, the opposition Alliance Sociale (AS) led by the MLP won the elections with 48.8% of the vote, winning 38 of 62 seats. The MSM/MMM coalition won 22 seats.

15 Judicial System

The Supreme Court has a chief justice and six other judges who also serve on the Court of Criminal Appeal, the Court of Civil Appeal, the Intermediate Court, the Industrial Court, and

10 district courts. Final appeal can be made to the Privy Council in the United Kingdom.

16 Armed Forces

The National Police Force, which includes a military Special Mobile Force, is responsible for defense. In 2002, it had approximately 1,500 members. The defense budget for 2005 was $21.4 million.

17 Economy

The Mauritius economy is based on export-oriented manufacturing (mainly clothing), sugar, and tourism. Economic growth declined in 1990 as the economy started to experience labor shortages, rising inflation, and capacity constraints. In the early 1990s, the economy showed modest recovery. Between 1988 and 2001, economic growth averaged 5.3%. After a slowdown to 2.2% growth in 2002, the economy recovered. Growth approached 5% in 2004 before dropping back to 2.4% in 2005.

Important to Mauritius’s industrial development is the Export Processing Zone (EPZ), where imported goods and raw materials are processed for export. EPZ products include textiles and clothing, electrical components, and diamonds. Manufacturing in the EPZ provided nearly 45% of export earnings in 2002.

Yearly Growth Rate

This economic indicator tells by what percent the economy has increased or decreased when compared with the previous year.

18 Income

In 2005, Mauritius’s GDP was $16.4 billion, or about $13,300 per person. The average inflation rate was 5.6% in 2002. The annual growth rate of the GDP was 2.5% in 2005.

19 Industry

Manufacturing centers on the processing of agricultural products. Sugarcane, molasses, and rum are processed and local tobacco is made into cigarettes. Factories also process tea. Other small industries produce goods for local consumption, such as beer and soft drinks, shoes, metal products, and paints.

The Export Processing Zone (EPZ) is an important part of Mauritius’s industrial development. Imported goods are processed for export in the EPZ, which gives investors special tax breaks and duty exemption. Textiles generate more than 90% of exports from the EPZ. EPZ industries also produce chemicals, electronics, non-electrical machinery, transportation equipment, precision engineering, skilled crafts, sunglasses, toys, nails, razor blades, tires, and audio cassettes.

20 Labor

There were 570,000 workers employed in 2005. The principal employment sectors were construction and industry at 37.1%, services at 53.6%, and agriculture and fishing at 9.4%. The estimated unemployment rate in 2005 was 10.5%. There were more than 335 labor unions in 2001, with 111,231 members, representing about 22% of the workforce.

The minimum working age is 15, with restrictions for those under age 18. However, child labor and exploitation is still practiced. The minimum wage ranged from $3.53 to $12.30 per week in 2002.

21 Agriculture

In 2004, agriculture accounted for 6% of gross domestic product and 19% of exports. Sugarcane is the major crop. In 2004, about 5.3 million tons of cane were produced. Sugarcane occupies 34% of Mauritius’s total land area and 68% of its cultivated land.

Tobacco production was 357 tons in 2004 and now provides the raw material for most locally produced cigarettes. In recent years, horticultural products have been successfully grown for export, including flowers (mainly anthuriums), tropical fruits, and vegetables.

Other crops in 2004 included 8,700 tons of tea, 11,200 tons of potatoes, 14,400 tons of tomatoes, and 12,000 tons of bananas. Potatoes

Components of the Economy

This pie chart shows how much of the country’s economy is devoted to agriculture (including forestry, hunting, and fishing), industry, or services.

and other vegetables are grown in the sugar fields between rows of cane.

22 Domesticated Animals

In 2005, Mauritius had 93,000 goats, 28,000 head of cattle, 11,500 pigs, and 9.8 million chickens. That year, animal products included 4,000 tons of cow milk, 30,500 tons of meat, and 5,200 tons of hen eggs.

23 Fishing

In 2003, the total catch was 11,169 tons, a decline from 21,157 tons in 1993. About 16% of the catch consisted of snapper. Exports of fish products were valued at nearly $75.1 million.

24 Forestry

About 8% of total land area is classified as forest. In 2000, roundwood removals were an estimated 25,000 cubic meters (882,500 cubic feet), half of it burned as fuel. Sawn wood production was about 5,000 cubic meters (176,500 cubic feet) in the same year.

Yearly Balance of Trade

The balance of trade is the difference between what a country sells to other countries (its exports) and what it buys (its imports). If a country imports more than it exports, it has a negative balance of trade (a trade deficit). If exports exceed imports there is a positive balance of trade (a trade surplus).

25 Mining

There were few mineral resources in Mauritius. Annual production in 2004 was estimated at 89,400 tons of fertilizer, 7,700 tons of marine salt, 65,000 tons of semi-manufactured steel. Historically, mineral output has consisted of the local production and use of basalt construction stone, coral sand, lime for coral, and solar-evaporated sea salt.

26 Foreign Trade

Clothing accounts for more than half of total exports (69%); sugar is the second most-important export. Principal imports include manufactured goods, capital equipment, food, petroleum products, and consumer goods.

Selected Social Indicators

The statistics below are the most recent estimates available as of 2006. For comparison purposes, data for the United States and averages for low-income countries and high-income countries are also given. About 15% of the world’s 6.5 billion people live in high-income countries, while 37% live in low-income countries.

Indicator Mauritius Low-income countries High-income countries United States
sources: World Bank. World Development Indicators. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 2006; Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2006; World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.
Per capita gross national income (GNI)*$11,950 $2,258$31,009$39,820
Population growth rate1.1% 2%0.8%1.2%
People per square kilometer of land608 803032
Life expectancy in years: male69 587675
female76 608280
Number of physicians per 1,000 people1.1 0.43.72.3
Number of pupils per teacher (primary school)22 431615
Literacy rate (15 years and older)84.4% 65%>95%99%
Television sets per 1,000 people299 84735938
Internet users per 1,000 people146 28538630
Energy consumed per capita (kg of oil equivalent)n.a. 5015,4107,843
CO2 emissions per capita (metric tons)2.57 0.8512.9719.92
* The GNI is the total of all goods and services produced by the residents of a country in a year. The per capita GNI is calculated by dividing a country’s GNI by its population and adjusting for relative purchasing power.
n.a.: data not available >: greater than <: less than

Principal trading partners in 2004 were the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Madagascar, Italy, South Africa, China, India, France, and Bahrain.

27 Energy and Power

Power plant production was 1.9 billion kilowatt hours in 2003, when hydroelectric plants supplied 9% of the total. About half of all primary energy consumed comes from bagasse, or sugar-cane waste.

28 Social Development

Mauritius has a universal system of pensions that supplements an earnings-related pension system. A program of family allowances aids needy families with more than three children. Employment-related sickness and maternity benefits are provided, as well as worker’s compensation and unemployment benefits. Women do not face significant legal discrimination, but most remain limited to traditional roles in the household and workplace. Ethnic tensions exist between majority Hindus and minority Muslims.

29 Health

As of 2005, there were an estimated 1.1 physicians per 1,000 people. The average life expectancy in Mauritius in 2005 was 72.4 years (69 years for men and 76 years for women). The island of Mauritius has a high prevalence of non-insulin-dependent diabetes, believed to be caused by physical inactivity and obesity. Most deaths are related to cardiovascular disease. In the mid-1990s, almost half (47.2%) of Mauritius’s male population were smokers. At the end of 2004 the number of people living with human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) was estimated at 700.

There are three basic types of houses: wattle and daub (woven poles or sticks with plaster) construction with thatched roofs, galvanized sheet-iron structures, and houses constructed of wood.

In 2000, there were 297,671 housing units nationwide. Of these, about 65% were detached houses and 24.5% were semi-detached homes or blocks of flats. About 99% of all dwellings were privately owned. Most households have three to five people. About 83.7% of all dwellings have indoor piped water, 99% have electricity, 87.8% have an indoor kitchen, and 74.8% have an indoor bathroom.

31 Education

Education is free up to college level and is compulsory for six years. The student-to-teacher ratio at the primary level averages 22 to 1. In 2003, about 97% of primary-school-age children are enrolled in school, while 74% of those eligible attend secondary school.

Postsecondary institutions include the University of Mauritius, the Mauritius College of the Air, and the Mahatma Gandhi Institute. In 1997–98, all institutions of higher learning combined had 6,419 pupils. Many university students study in Europe, India, Australia, and the United States. As of 2004, the adult literacy rate was estimated at 84.4% (males, 88.2%; females, 80.5%).

32 Media

As of 2003 there were 285 mainline telephones and 267 cellular phones in use for every 1,000 people. In 1998, there were five AM and nine FM radio stations. There were two television stations in 1997. In 2003, there were 379 radios and 299 televisions for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were about 101 personal computers in use for every 1,000 people. Two Internet providers served about 87,000 subscribers in 2001. By 2004, 146 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet.

Leading daily newspapers (with 2002 circulations) include L’Express (35,000), Le Mauricien (35,000), and The New Nation (15,000).

33 Tourism and Recreation

In addition to the nation’s beaches and lagoons, tourist attractions include the colonial architecture of Port Louis, an extinct volcano in Curepipe, the fishing port and naval museum at Mahebourg, and the Botanical Gardens at Pamplemousses.

In 2003, 702,000 tourists visited Mauritius with receipts totaling $946 million. That year there were 9,647 hotel rooms with 19,727 beds and a 63% occupancy rate.

34 Famous Mauritians

Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam (1900–1985) was the first prime minister of independent Mauritius from 1968 to 1982. He was succeeded by Anerood Jugnauth (1930–). Sandra Mayotte and Tian are modern musicians from Mauritius who have been recognized by the Kora All Africa Music Awards.

35 Bibliography

BOOKS

Bindloss, Joe. Mauritius, Réunion & Seychelles. London: Lonely Planet, 2001.

McCarry, John. “Mauritius: Island of Quiet Success.” National Geographic, April 1993, pp. 110–32.

NgCheong-Lum, Roseline. Culture Shock! Mauritius. Singapore: Time Books International, 1997.

Selvon, Sydney. Historical Dictionary of Mauritius. 2nd ed. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1991.

WEB SITES

Aquastat. www.fao.org/ag/Agl/AGLW/aquastat/countries/mauritius/index.stm. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Commonwealth Country Profiles. www.thecommonwealth.org/Templates/YearbookHomeInternal.asp?NodeID=138782. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Country Pages. www.state.gov/p/af/ci/mp/. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Government Home Page. www.gov.mu/. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

World Heritage List. whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/mu. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

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Mauritius

Mauritius

Compiled from the January 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Mauritius

PROFILE

HISTORY

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

ECONOMY

FOREIGN RELATIONS

DEFENSE

U.S.-MAURITIAN RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 1,865 sq. km. (720 sq. mi.), about the size of Rhode Island; 500 miles east of Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean.

Dependencies: Rodrigues Island, the Agalega Islands and Cargados Carajos Shoals; Mauritius also claims sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago, part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, where U.S. Naval Support Facility at Diego Garcia is located.

Cities: Capital—Port Louis (pop. 146,319). Other cities—Beau Bassin and Rose Hill (105,377), Vacoas-Phoenix (101, 789), Curepipe (82,756), Quatre Bornes (77,145).

Terrain: Volcanic island surrounded by coral reefs. A central plateau is rimmed by mountains.

Climate: Tropical; cyclone season mid-December-April.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Mauritian(s).

Population: (2003) 1,228,965, including Rodrigues, Agalega, and St. Brandon.

Avg. annual population growth: (2001) 1%. Density—602/sq. km.

Ethnic groups: Indo-Mauritians 68%, Creoles 27%, Sino-Mauritians 3%, Franco-Mauritians 2%.

Religions: Hindu, Roman Catholic, Muslim.

Languages: Creole (common), French, English (official), Hindi, Urdu, Hakka, Bhojpuri.

Education: Years compulsory—6 (primary school). Attendance (primary school)—virtually universal. Literacy—adult population 85%; school population 90%.

Health: (2001) Infant mortality rate—13.2/1000. Life expectancy—male 68.6 yrs., female 75.5 yrs.

Work force: (2003, 549,500) Manufacturing—27%; trade and tourism—19.6%; government services—11%; agriculture and fishing—9.4%; other—33%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: March 12, 1968 (became a republic in 1992).

Constitution: March 12, 1968.

Government branches: Executive—president (head of state), prime minister (head of government), Council of Ministers. Legislative—Unicameral National Assembly. Judicial—Supreme Court.

Political subdivisions: 10.

Political parties: MSM-MMM Alliance (Militant Socialist Movement and Mauritian Militant Movement) and the Social Alliance (made up of several parties, including the Mauritian Labor Party).

Suffrage: Universal over 18.

Defense: (2000) 1.7% of GDP.

Economy

GDP (2004) $6 billion.

Real growth rate: (2004) 4.6%.

Per capita income: (2004) $4,900.

Inflation rate: (2004) 4.8%.

Natural resources: None.

Agriculture: (6.2% of GDP) Products—sugar, sugar derivatives, tea, tobacco, vegetables, fruits, flowers and fishing.

Manufacturing: Including export processing zone (21.5% of GDP) Types—labor-intensive goods for export, including textiles and clothing, watches and clocks, jewelry, optical goods, toys and games, and cut flowers.

Tourism sector: (5.8% of GDP) Main countries of origin—France, including nearby French island Reunion, South Africa, and west European countries.

Financial services: 10% of GDP.

Trade: (2003) Exports—$1.9 billion: textiles and clothing, sugar, canned tuna, watches and clocks, jewelry, optical goods, toys and games, and flowers. Major markets—Europe and the U.S. Imports—$2.3 billion: meat, dairy products, fish, wheat, rice, wheat flour, vegetable oil, petroleum products, iron and steel, cement, fertilizers, machinery and transport equipment, and textile industry raw materials. Major suppliers—South Africa, France, China, India, U.K., Japan, Australia, and Germany.

Fiscal year: July 1-June 30.

HISTORY

While Arab and Malay sailors knew of Mauritius as early as the 10th century AD and Portuguese sailors first visited in the 16th century, the island was first colonized in 1638 by the Dutch. Mauritius was populated over the next few centuries by waves of traders, planters and their slaves, indentured laborers, merchants, and artisans. The island was named in honor of Prince Maurice of Nassau by the Dutch, who abandoned the colony in 1710.

The French claimed Mauritius in 1715 and renamed it Ile de France. It became a prosperous colony under the French East India Company. The French Government took control in 1767, and the island served as a naval and privateer base during the Napoleonic wars. In 1810, Mauritius was captured by the British, whose possession of the island was confirmed 4 years later by the Treaty of Paris. French institutions, including the Napoleonic code of law, were maintained. The French language is still used more widely than English.

Mauritian Creoles trace their origins to the plantation owners and slaves who were brought to work the sugar fields. Indo-Mauritians are descended from Indian immigrants who arrived in the 19th century to work as indentured laborers after slavery was abolished in 1835. Included in the Indo-Mauritian community are Muslims (about 17% of the population) from the Indian subcontinent.

Franco-Mauritians control nearly all of the large sugar estates and are active in business and banking. As the Indian population became numerically dominant and the voting franchise was extended, political power shifted from the Franco-Mauritians and their Creole allies to the Hindus.

Elections in 1947 for the newly created Legislative Assembly marked Mauritius’ first steps toward self-rule. An independence campaign gained momentum after 1961, when the British agreed to permit additional self-government and eventual independence. A coalition composed of the Mauritian Labor Party (MLP), the Muslim Committee of Action (CAM), and the Independent Forward Bloc (IFB)—a traditionalist Hindu party—won a majority in the 1967 Legislative Assembly election, despite opposition from Franco-Mauritian and Creole supporters of Gaetan Duval’s Mauritian Social Democratic Party (PMSD). The contest was interpreted locally as a referendum on independence. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, MLP leader and chief minister in the colonial government, became the first prime minister at independence, on March 12, 1968. This event was preceded by a period of communal strife, brought under control with assistance from British troops.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Mauritian politics are vibrant and characterized by coalition and alliance building. All parties are centrist and reflect a national consensus that supports democratic politics and a relatively open economy with a strong private sector. Parliamentary elections were held July 3, 2005.

Alone or in coalition, the Mauritian Labor Party (MLP) ruled from 1947 through 1982 and returned to power in 1995. The Mauritian Militant Movement/Mauritian Socialist Party (MMM/PSM) alliance won the 1982 election. In 1983, defectors from the MMM joined with the PSM to form the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM) and won a working majority. In July 1990, the MSM realigned with the MMM, and in September 1991, national elections won 59 of the 62 directly elected seats in parliament. In December 1995, the MLP returned to power, this time in coalition with the MMM. Labor’s Navin Chandra Ramgoolam, son of the country’s first prime minister, became prime minister himself. Ramgoolam dismissed his MMM coalition partners in mid-1997, leaving Labor in power except for several small parties allied with it. Elections in September 2000 saw the re-emergence of the MSM-MMM as a winning alliance, as the coalition garnered 51.7% of the vote, and Sir Anerood Jugnauth once again became the prime minister with the caveat that mid-term, the leader of the MMM party would take over as prime minister. In September 2003, in keeping with the campaign promise which forged the coalition, Jugnauth stepped down from office and deputy prime minister Paul Raymond Berenger became prime minister. One month later, Sir Anerood Jugnauth was sworn in as President of the Republic. Berenger became the first Catholic, Franco-Mauritian to head the government. The move created an historic precedent of having a non-Hindu, non-majority member head the national government. The 2005 parliamentary elections returned Navin Chandra Ramgoolam to office as prime minister.

Mauritius became a republic on March 12, 1992. The most immediate result was that a Mauritian-born president became head of state, replacing Queen Elizabeth II. Under the amended constitution, political power remained with parliament. The Council of Ministers (cabinet), responsible for the direction and control of the government, consists of the prime minister (head of government), the leader of the majority party in the legislature, and about 20 ministries.

The unicameral National Assembly has up to 70 deputies. Sixty-two are elected by universal suffrage, and as many as eight “best losers” are chosen from the runners-up by the Electoral Supervisory Commission using a formula designed to give at least minimal representation to all ethnic communities and under-represented parties. Elections are scheduled at least every 5 years.

Mauritian law is an amalgam of French and British legal traditions. The Supreme Court—a chief justice and five other judges—is the highest judicial authority. There is an additional right of appeal to the Queen’s Privy Council. Local government has nine administrative divisions, with municipal and town councils in urban areas and district and village councils in rural areas. The island of Rodrigues forms the country’s 10th administrative division.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 8/30/2005

President: Anerood JUGNAUTH, Sir

Prime Minister: Navinchandra RAMGOOLAM, Dr.

Dep. Prime Min.: Ahmed Rashid BEEBEEJAUN

Dep. Prime Min.: Charles Gaetan Xavier Luc DUVAL

Dep. Prime Min.: Rama Kirshna SITHANEN

Min. of Agro Industry & Fisheries: Arvin BOOLELL

Min. of Arts & Culture: Mahendra GOWRESSOO

Min. of Civil Service & Administrative Reforms: Navinchandra RAMGOOLAM, Dr.

Min. of Defense & Home Affairs: Navinchandra RAMGOOLAM, Dr.

Min. of Education & Human Resources: Dharambeer GOKHOOL

Min. of Environment & National Development Unit: Anil Kumar BACHOO

Min. of Finance & Economic Development: Rama Kirshna SITHANEN

Min. of Foreign Affairs, International Trade, & Cooperation: Murlidhar Madun DULLOO

Min. of Health & Quality of Life: Satya Veyash FAUGOO

Min. of Housing & Lands: Mohammed Asraf Ally DULULL

Min. of Industry, Small & Medium Enterprises, Commerce, & Cooperatives: Rajeshwar JEETAH

Min. of Information Technology & Telecommunications: Marie Joseph Noel-Etienne Ghislain SINATAMBOU

Min. of Justice & Human Rights: Jayarama VALAYDEN

Min. of Labor, Industrial Relations, & Employment: Vasant Kumar BUNWAREE

Min. of Local Govt.: James Burty DAVID

Min. of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport, & Shipping: Ahmed Rashid BEEBEEJAUN

Min. of Public Utilities: Abu Twalib KASENALLY

Min. of Rodrigues & Outer Islands: Navinchandra RAMGOOLAM, Dr.

Min. of Social Security, National Solidarity, & Senior Citizen Welfare & Reform Institutions: Sheilabai BAPPOO

Min. of Tourism, Leisure, & External Communications: Charles Gaetan Xavier Luc DUVAL

Min. of Women’s Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare, & Consumer Protection: Indranee SEEBUN

Min. of Youth & Sports: Sylvio Hock Sheen TANG WAH HING

Attorney General: Jayarama VALAYDEN

Governor, Central Bank: Rameswurlall Basant ROI

Ambassador to the US: Usha JEETAH

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Jagdish KOONJUL

Mauritius maintains an embassy at 4301 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, (tel. 202-244-1491)

ECONOMY

Mauritius has one of the strongest economies in Africa; 2004 GDP at market prices was estimated at $6 billion and per capita income at $4,900. Over the past two decades, real output growth averaged just below 6% per year, leading to a more than doubling of per capita income and a marked improvement in social indicators. Economic growth was first driven by sugar, then textiles and tourism, and more recently by financial services (particularly offshore companies). The information and communications technology (ICT) sector is now emerging as the fifth pillar of the economy, following massive investment by government in the last three years in related infrastructure (the newly built Ebene Cyber City is one example) and training.

However, the economy is now facing some serious challenges, including the decline in the rate of economic growth, increasing unemployment, an increasing public sector deficit, and an increasing domestic debt. In 2003, GDP grew by 4.3%, up from 1.8% in 2002 when sugar production was diminished by a hurricane. The growth rate for 2004 was estimated at 4.6%. However, this is still below the average growth rate of the past two decades.

Mauritius stands today at the crossroads of its future development. The main engines of growth in the Mauritian economy, namely the sugar and textile industries, are faced with the erosion of preferential trade arrangements stemming from the proposed reforms of the European Union sugar regime, the phasing out of the Multi Fiber Agreement, and the increasing trend towards the globalization of world trade. The prospects of intensified global competition from low-wage countries (particularly China and India) and limited future opportunities for pref erential trade arrangements represent serious constraints on future growth.

Realizing the need to diversify the economy, Mauritius has embarked on an ambitious development strategy to find new drivers for economic growth. The government is putting emphasis on the development of the ICT sector and the promotion of Mauritius as a seafood hub in the region, using existing facilities at the Freeport (free trade zones at the port and airport). Measures are also being taken to modernize and restructure the sugar and textile sectors through better technology and greater capitalization.

The business climate is friendly yet extremely competitive. Mauritius has a long tradition of private entrepreneurship, which has led to a strong and dynamic private sector. Firms entering the market will find a well-developed legal and commercial infrastructure. With regard to telecommunications, Mauritius has a well-developed digital infrastructure and offers state-of-the-art telecommunications facilities including international leased lines and high speed Internet access. Telecommunications services were liberalized in January 2003. The government policy is to act as a facilitator to business, leaving production to the private sector. However, it still controls key utility services directly or through parastatals, including electricity, water, waste water, postal services, and broadcasting. The State Trading Corporation controls imports of rice, flour, petroleum products, and cement.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Mauritius has strong and friendly relations with the West as well as with India and the countries of southern and eastern Africa. It is a member of the African Union (AU), World Trade Organization (WTO), the Commonwealth, La Francophonie, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the Indian Ocean Commission, Community of Eastern and South African States (COMESA), and the recently formed Indian Ocean Rim Association. In 2004, then-Prime Minister Berenger became chairman of SADC for a one-year term. Trade, commitment to democracy, colonial and cultural ties, and the country’s small size are driving forces behind Mauritian foreign policy. The country’s political heritage and dependence on Western markets have led to close ties with the European Union and its member states, particularly the United Kingdom and France, which exercises sovereignty over neighboring Reunion. Considered part of Africa geographically, Mauritius has friendly relations with other African states in the region, particularly South Africa, by far its largest continental trading partner. Mauritian investors are gradually entering African markets, notably Madagascar and Mozambique. Mauritius coordinates much of its foreign policy with the Southern Africa Development Community and the African Union.

Relations with India are strong for both historical and commercial reasons. Foreign embassies in Mauritius include Australia, the United Kingdom,

China, Egypt, France, India, Madagascar, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, and the United States.

DEFENSE

Mauritius does not have a standing army. All military, police, and security functions are carried out by 10,000 active-duty personnel under the command of the Commissioner of Police. The 8,000-member National Police is responsible for domestic law enforcement. The 1,400-member Special Mobile Force (SMF) and the 688-member National Coast Guard are the only two paramilitary units in Mauritius. Both units are composed of police officers on lengthy rotations to those services. The SMF is organized as a ground infantry unit and engages extensively in civic works projects. The Coast Guard has four patrol craft for search-and-rescue missions and surveillance of territorial waters. A 100-member police helicopter squadron assists in search-and-rescue operations. There also is a special supporting unit of 270 members trained in riot control.

Military advisers from the United Kingdom and India work with the SMF, the Coast Guard, and the Police Helicopter Unit, and Mauritian police officers are trained in the United Kingdom, India, and France. The United States provides training to Mauritian security officers in such fields as counter-terrorism methods, seamanship, and maritime law enforcement.

U.S.-MAURITIAN RELATIONS

Official U.S. representation in Mauritius dates from the end of the 18th century. An American consulate established in 1794 closed in 1911. It was reopened in 1967 and elevated to embassy status upon the country’s independence in 1968. Since 1970, the mission has been directed by a resident U.S. ambassador.

Relations between the United States and Mauritius are cordial and largely revolve around trade. The United States is Mauritius’ third-largest market but ranks 12th in terms of exports to Mauritius. Principal imports from the U.S. include aircraft parts (for Air Mauritius), automatic data processing machines, diamonds, jewelry, radio/TV transmission apparatus, telecommunications equipment, agricultural/construction/industrial machinery and equipment, casino slot machines, outboard motors, books and encyclopedias, and industrial chemicals.

Mauritian exports to the U.S. include apparel, sugar, non-industrial diamonds, jewelry articles, live animals, sunglasses, and cut flowers. The United States is the number one market for Mauritian garments. It emerged as the single largest market for shirts and trousers in 2002 and 2003. In November 2004 the U.S. Congress exempted Mauritius for one year from the third country fabric provision under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This exemption was expected to give a further boost to Mauritian export of apparel to the United States.

More than 200 U.S. companies are represented in Mauritius. About 35 have offices in Mauritius, serving the domestic and/or the regional market, mainly in the information technology (IT), textile, fast food, express courier, and financial services sectors. The largest U.S. subsidiaries are Caltex Oil Mauritius and Esso Mauritius. U.S. brands are sold widely. Several U.S. franchises, notably Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, and Toys R Us have opened in recent years.

The United States funds a small military assistance program. The embassy also manages special self-help funds for community groups and nongovernmental organizations and a democracy and human rights fund.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

PORT LOUIS (E) Address: 4th Floor Rogers House, Port Louis, Mauritius; Phone: (230) 202-4400; Fax: (230) 208-9534; INMARSAT Tel: 881631439038/881631439039; Workweek: M-Th: 0730-1645; F: 0730-1230; Website: http://mauritius.usembassy.gov/.

AMB:Cesar Cabrera
AMB OMS:vacant
DCM:Stephen Schwartz
DCM/CHG:Stephen Schwartz
DCM OMS:Ellen Brooks
POL:Margaret Hsiang
CON:Wendy Ryde
MGT:Judith Semilota
CLO:Henry Semilota
CUS:E.J. Chong
DAO:Cathy Ripley
DEA:Jeff Wagner
ECO/COM:Melissa Brown
EST:Unknown
FAA:Ed Jones
FCS:Johnnie Brown
FMO:Kemp Long
ICASS Chair:Stephen Schwartz
IMO:Christopher House
INS:Robert Ballow
IRS:Kathy Beck
ISSO:Christopher House
LAB:Unknown
LEGATT:Mike Bonner
PAO:Victoria DeLong
RSO:Brian Roundy

Last Updated: 11/30/2006

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : November 17, 2006

Country Description: The Republic of Mauritius is a small island nation of three inhabited and several other islands located in the southwestern Indian Ocean. Mauritius has a stable government and a diverse economy. Its per capita GDP of $5081 is the second highest in Africa. Facilities for tourism are well developed. In order of frequency, Creole, French, and English are spoken; English and French are common in the main towns and tourist areas but may not be understood in outlying villages. The capital city is Port Louis.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A valid passport, onward/return ticket, and proof of sufficient funds are required. Immigration authorities require the validity of the entrant’s passport to be greater than six months upon both arrival and departure. Travelers must also provide a local address where they will be staying in Mauritius. Visas are issued at the point of entry. A tourist entry fee and the airport departure tax are included in the price of a plane ticket. Travelers coming from yellow fever-infected areas may be asked to present a yellow fever vaccination certificate. Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of Mauritius, 4301 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 441, Washington, D.C. 20008; telephone (202) 244-1491/2, or the Honorary Consulate in Los Angeles, telephone (310) 557-2009. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Mauritian embassy or consulate. Visit the web site of the Embassy of Mauritius for the most current visa information.

Safety and Security: Thefts on public beaches are a concern, and visitors should keep track of their belongings at all times. Women, in particular, are advised against walking alone, particularly on public beaches and at night. Americans should avoid crowds and street demonstrations, and maintain a low profile.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Middle East and North Africa Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and other Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Although violent crimes are uncommon, petty crime is a problem. There is a potential for pick pocketing and purse snatching at the central market, crowded outdoor shopping areas, and around the waterfront in Port Louis. Residential break-ins are reported frequently on the island. Most break-ins are surreptitious and do not involve violence. However, some burglars have brandished weapons, such as knives or machetes. In late 2004, there were reports of tourists being robbed at knifepoint in Port Louis. It is unwise to walk alone at night outside the immediate grounds of hotels.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical facilities are available, but more limited than in the United States. Emergency assistance is limited. While public hospitals and clinics provide free care, many visitors may choose to be treated by private doctors and hospitals. Service Aide Medicale Urgence (SAMU) is a government organization that provides ambulance and emergency assistance in response to calls to 114 (Address: Volcy Pougnet Street, Port Louis). MegaCare is a private organization that provides assistance to subscribers only (Address: 99 Draper Avenue, Quatre Bornes; phone: 116; 464-6116).

Recent years have seen an increase in the number of cases of chikungunya, a viral disease transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes. For more information, please see the CDC’s fact sheet on Chikungunya.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Mauritius is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Driving is on the left side of the road. Roads are sometimes narrow and uneven with inadequate lighting, which makes night driving hazardous. Speed limits are posted in kilometers per hour, but all road and traffic signs are posted in English. Drivers and front-seat passengers are required to wear seat belts. Drivers and passengers on motorcycles are required to wear helmets. Babies and toddlers should be placed in child safety seats. Many accidents occur due to excessive speed and violations of road regulations.

Drivers involved in an accident are required by law to remain at the scene until the police arrive. However, if an angry crowd gathers and those involved in the accident feel threatened, police and judicial authorities have in the past not taken action against drivers who leave the scene if they have proceeded directly to a police station. While there are organizations that provide emergency or roadside assistance, their resources and capabilities are limited and they are on occasion unable to respond in non-life threatening incidents.

Public transportation by bus is available between the main towns until 11:00 p.m. and in remote areas until 6 p.m. Taxis are also available.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Mauritius, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Mauritius’ Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s Internet website at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Spear fishing equipment may not be imported into Mauritius. Animals may be required undergo a quarantine period of up to six months, depending on country of origin and residence history. Please contact the Mauritian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at (230) 464-5084 for specific information related to your pet.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Mauritius’ laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Mauritius are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in Mauritius are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration website, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Mauritius. Americans without Internet access may register directly at the U.S. Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy located on the fourth floor of the Rogers House on John F. Kennedy Street in Port Louis, telephone (230) 202-4400; fax (230) 208-9534. The Embassy email address is [email protected] intent.mu, and its website is http://Mauritius.usembassy.gov

International Adoption : April 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note: Immigrant visas for adopted Mauritian children are issued at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. For more information on scheduling a visa appointment, please see the immigrant visa page on the web site of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya at http://nairobi.usembassy.gov/wwwhins1.html.

Patterns of Immigration: In the last five fiscal years no immigrant visas have been issued to Mauritian orphans.

Adoption Authority:
National Adoption Council (NAC)
3rd Floor Govt Centre
Port Louis
Tel: (230) 201 3549;
fax: 210 8151
Contact: Mrs. Baccha
or Mrs. Purryag

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Adoptive parents must be at least 15 years older than the child. Adoptive parents may be single or married.

Residency Requirements: There are no residency requirements to complete an intercountry adoption in Mauritius.

Time Frame: The approval of the application takes approximately of 60 days, during which time the NAC checks the biological parents’ story about the child, the actual home situation in which the child is living, at times and when necessary gets back to the adoption service provider of the home study of the prospective parents to verify information. There is an additional 15 days needed to complete court procedures for an adoption. If prospective parents are residing outside Mauritius, they may ask to be interviewed by phone, but the Mauritian authorities view this as the exception rather than the rule. Adoptive parents will need to come to Mauritius at the time the adoption is brought before the judge for a decision.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: A lawyer may be needed to expedite matters. The U.S. Embassy in Port Louis has a list of attorneys who have indicated a willingness to work with U.S. citizens that can be made available upon request. Neither the U.S. Embassy nor the Department of State assumes any responsibility for the quality of services provided by these attorneys or their employees.

Adoption Fees: A non-refundable 5,000 Mauritian Rupees (MRs) application fee together with a guarantee fee of MRs 20,000, refundable upon completion of the adoption, must be sent with the application and supporting documents to the NAC.

Adoption Procedures: The Mauritian National Adoption Council does not match adoptable orphans with prospective adoptive parents. Adoptable children are located through personal contacts with families who are unable to care for their child and are willing to give up their child for adoption. Prospective adoptive parents are advised to verify ahead of time that their Mauritian prospective adoptive child meets the definition of “legal orphan” as defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 101(b)(1)(F).

The application for adoption is filed with the NAC. Once it is approved, the case is brought before a judge. The judge must approve the adoption. Adoptive parents are advised to consider retaining the services of an attorney to handle the judicial proceedings. Prospective adoptive parents must attend the adoption hearing in Mauritius.

Documentary Requirements:

  • An application form for adoption must be filed at the National Adoption Council (NAC), along with the following documents:
  • 4 photos of the child duly endorsed by a lawyer;
  • Birth certificate of the child;
  • 2 comprehensive medical certificates for the child from two different child specialists;
  • Birth and marriage certificates of the biological parents (if applicable);
  • Divorce decree of the biological parents, if applicable;
  • Medical certificate(s) of biological parents, if applicable;
  • 2 recent passport size photos of the biological parents;
  • Birth certificate(s) of prospective adoptive parents;
  • Marriage certificate of prospective adoptive parents, if applicable;
  • A home study from an adoption services provider in the United States;
  • Documentation of financial means of prospective adoptive parents;
  • If applicable, documents of ownership of a house/estate;
  • Report of any criminal record from the U.S. (U.S. state level will suffice);
  • If either of the prospective adoptive parents is unable to have a child, medical certificate documenting this fact must be submitted;
  • Guarantee that in case of an accident, a specified third party will take care of child;
  • Progress report of a Mauritian child adopted by applicants, if applicable. Note: This is a one time report if a previous adoption was done for a Mauritian child, and it is to be submitted upon application for the second Mauritian child.

Embassy of the Republic of Mauritius:
4301 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.,
Suite 441
Washington DC 20008
Tel.: (202) 244-1491/1492
Fax: (202) 966-0983
E-mail: [email protected]

U.S. Immigration Requirements

Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adopting Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy in Mauritius:
4th floor, Rogers House
John Kennedy Avenue
Port Louis, Mauritius
Email: [email protected]
Tel:(230)202-4400 Fax:(230)208-9534

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Mauritius may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Port Louis. Questions about U.S. immigration procedures for adopted Mauritian children should be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

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Mauritius

Mauritius

  • Area: 718 sq mi (1,860 sq km) / World Rank: 172
  • Location: Southern and Eastern hemispheres, island in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar.
  • Coordinates: 20°17′S, 57°33′E
  • Borders: None
  • Coastline: 110 mi (177 km)
  • Territorial Seas: 12 NM
  • Highest Point: Piton de la Rivière Noire, 2,717 ft (828 m)
  • Lowest Point: Sea level
  • Longest Distances: 38 mi (61 km) N-S; 29 mi (47 km) E-W
  • Longest River: Grand River South East, 25 mi (40 km)
  • Natural Hazards: Cyclones from November to April; surrounded by coral reefs that are potentially hazardous to ships
  • Population: 1,189,825 (July 2001 est.) / World Rank: 150
  • Capital City: Port Louis, on the northwest coast
  • Largest City: Port Louis, 165,000 (2000 est.)

OVERVIEW

Mauritius is a picturesque island nation, with rugged volcanic features and a large fertile plain. The compact island is the worn and eroded base of an extinct volcano. It stands on a mostly undersea feature called the Mascarene Plateau (a ridge that for much of its length is now underwater in the Indian Ocean and runs in a north-south direction), formerly a land bridge between Asia and Africa. The island's surface consists of a broad plateau that slopes toward a northern coastal plain from elevations of approximately 2,200 ft (670 m) near the southern coastline. Several low mountain groups and isolated peaks rise above the level of the plateau to give the appearance of a more rugged landscape. A coral reef nearly encircles the island. Mauritius sits on the African Tectonic Plate, but not near enough to any plate boundaries or fault lines to experience any major earthquakes or tectonic activity.

MOUNTAINS AND HILLS

Mountains

The entire island of Mauritius is of volcanic origin, having risen from the sea floor roughly 10 million years ago. Three mountain ranges border the central plateau of Mauritius: Moka in the northwest, Grand Port in the east, and Black River in the southwest. The highest peak on the island, Piton de la Rivière Noire, whose name means mountain of the Black River, is in the southwest region of the country in the Black River Mountain Range.

Plateaus

From elevations of approximately 2,200 ft (670 m) near the southern coastline, a broad central plateau slopes toward a northern coastal plain.

INLAND WATERWAYS

Lakes

Grand Bassin and Bassin Blanc, both of which lie in craters of extinct volcanoes, are the country's two natural lakes. Grand Bassin, about 4 mi (6 km) southeast of Mare aux Vacoas in the southwest, is believed to be sacred by Hindus. Several reservoirs are also located on the island, including La Nicolière in the north, Piton du Milieu in the central area, and Mare aux Vacoas, the largest reservoir, in the south.

Rivers

Numerous rivers flow through Mauritius. The Grand River South East, the country's longest river, is located in the central-eastern region. The other main rivers are Rivière Noire (Black River), Rivière du Poste, Grand River North West, Rivière La Chaux, and Rivière des Créoles. Several waterfalls exist, with the highest being the Tamarin Falls, in the west, at 961 ft (293 m) high.

THE COAST, ISLANDS, AND THE OCEAN

Oceans and Seas

A large coral reef entirely surrounds Mauritius except for a few small breaks along the coast. A large break in the reef occurs on the southern coast between Souillac and Le Bouchon, and a smaller break occurs on the western coast at Flic-en-Flac.

Major Islands

The inhabited island Rodrigues, which is a dependency of Mauritius, lies about 350 mi (560 km) to the northeast of Mauritius. It has an area of about 42.5 sq mi (110 sq km) and a population of slightly more than 34,000. Mauritius' other dependency, Agalega, is a group of two islands—North and South—that lie 697 mi (1,122 km) north of Mauritius. Agalega has a combined area of 27 sq mi (70 sq km).

Coral atolls surround Mauritius, including the Cargados Carajos Shoals (St. Brandon Group). Nature preserves protect the natural habitat on Île Ronde (Round Island) and Île aux Serpents (Serpent Island), among others.

The Coast and Beaches

A few long stretches of white sand beaches line the country on the north and east, and a lagoon exists at Flicen-Flac

Districts – Mauritius
2000 POPULATION ESTIMATES
Name Population   Area (sq mi) Area (sq km)
Black River 55,100 100 259
Flacq 125,600 115 298
Grand Port 108,100 101 262
Moka 75,600 89 230
Pamplemousses 118,900 69 179
Plaines Wilhems 362,300 78 202
Port Louis 138,700 17 44
Rivière du Rampart 99,600 57 148
Savanne 66,300 94 243
Rodrigues 35,700 40 104
SOURCE : Central Statistics Office, Mauritius.

on the western coast. Part of the southern coast is rocky and steep, with black cliffs.

CLIMATE AND VEGETATION

Temperature

Mauritius has a maritime climate, and temperatures vary within the differing altitudes. Being in the tropics, Mauritius' climate is humid, and there are prevailing southeast winds. At sea level, temperatures range from 64° to 86°F (18° to 30°C), and at an elevation of 1,500 ft (460 m), they range from 55° to 79°F (13° to 26°C). The warmest months are October through April (the summer months), and the coolest are June through September (winter).

Rainfall

The prevailing southeast winds affect the average rainfall in the central plateau, while the coasts experience little rainfall averages in comparison. Due to the tradewinds, the central plateau and windward slopes experience heavy rains from October to March. These areas have an annual average rainfall of more than 200 in (500 cm). On the coast, yearly rainfall averages about 40 in (100 cm). From April to September, daily showers occur, and between December and April, occasional tropical cyclones strike Mauritius.

Forests and Jungles

Approximately 22 percent of Mauritius' total land area is forest.

HUMAN POPULATION

An estimated 41 percent of the population lives in urban areas. The capital, Port Louis, is the largest city, with other large cities being Beau Bassin/Rose Hill, Quatre Bornes, Curepipe, and Vacoas-Phoenix. About 2 percent of the population lives on the island of Rodrigues.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Fish and arable land are the natural resources of Mauritius, and sugarcane is the major crop. The economy is based on sugar, tourism, and on export-oriented manufacturing, including clothing.

FURTHER READINGS

Columbus Publishing. "Mauritius." World Travel Guide.http://www.wtgonline.com/data/mus/mus.asp (Accessed March 18, 2002).

COMPNet USA-Mauritius. Mauritius Island-Online. http://www.maurinet.com (Accessed July 8, 2002).

Government of Mauritius. Geography & Climate.http://ncb.intnet.mu/govt/geograph.htm (Accessed March 19, 2002).

Lonely Planet. Mauritius. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/africa/mauritius/environment.htm (Accessed March 18, 2002).

Mauritius, Réunion, & Seychelles. New York: Langenscheidt Publishers, 2000.

Mediatool Ltd. Mauritius-Info. http://www.mauritius-info.com/travel/guidetou/geo.shtml (Accessed March 19, 2002).

NgCheong-Lum, Roseline. Culture Shock! Mauritius. Singapore: Time Books International, 1997.

Singh, Sarine, Robert Strauss, and Deanna Swaney. Mauritius, Réunion, & Seychelles: A Travel Survival Kit. 3rd ed. Oakland, Calif.: Lonely Planet Publications, 1998.

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Mauritius

Mauritius

At a Glance

Official Name: Mauritius

Continent: Africa

Area: 787 square miles (1,860 sq km)

Population: 1,189,184

Capital City: Port Louis

Largest City: Port Louis (134,516)

Unit of Money: Mauritian rupee

Major Languages: English (official), French

Literacy: 83%

Land Use: 49% arable, 3% crops, 3% pastures, 22% forests, 23% other

Natural Resources: Arable land, fish

Government: Parliamentary democracy

Defense: 13.2 million

The Place

Mauritius is made up of a group of mountainous islands in the Indian Ocean. Its largest island, Mauritius, is about 500 miles (800 km) east of Madagascar and 2,400 miles (3862 km) southwest of India. Other islands include Rodrigues, Agalega, and Cargados Carajos Shoals.

The island of Mauritius was formed by volcanoes. Sugarcane fields cover almost half the island. In the center of the island, a plateau rises to 2,200 feet (671 meters) above sea level. Mauritius has about 110 miles (177 km) of coastline. Coral reefs surround most of the island.

Mauritius has a humid climate. Summer lasts from November to April with temperatures averaging 79°F (22°C). Interior areas can receive about 200 inches (510 cm) of rain a year, mostly in the summer. Drier areas in the southwest see almost 35 inches (89 cm) of rain a year. Cyclones and other severe weather often threaten the island.

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

The People

Mauritius has one of the highest population densities in the world at 1,499 people per square mile (579 people per sq km). The country has had problem with overpopulation since the 1960s. The two main ethnic groups are Indo-Mauritian and Creole. About 60% of the population lives in rural areas, in houses with concrete or wood walls and corrugated roofs. Nearly one-third of the people are under 15. Life expectancy is 71 years.

Sugar is Mauritius's most important industry. More than 30% of all workers grow, harvest, or process sugarcane. Nearly 90% of all farmland is used for growing sugarcane. Textile production and tourism are also important industries. The country has an unemployment rate of 2% and supports one of the strongest economies in Africa.

About 90% of children are enrolled in primary education. Students can move on to secondary education and then to college. The University of Mauritius, founded in 1965, offers classes in agriculture, technology, education, and administration. About 2,000 students are enrolled there.

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Mauritius

MAURITIUS

Compiled from the December 2003 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.


Official Name:
Republic of Mauritius


PROFILE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
DEFENSE
U.S.-MAURITIAN RELATIONS
TRAVEL


PROFILE


Geography

Area: 1,865 sq. km. (720 sq. mi.), about the size of Rhode Island; 500 miles east of Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean.

Dependencies: Rodrigues Island, the Agalega Islands and Cargados Carajos Shoals; Mauritius also claims sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago, part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, where U.S. Naval Base Diego Garcia is located.

Cities: Capital—Port Louis (pop.146,319). Other cities—Beau Bassin and Rose Hill (105,377), Vacoas-Phoenix (101,789), Curepipe (82,756), Quatre Bornes (77,145).

Terrain: Volcanic island surrounded by coral reefs. A central plateau is rimmed by mountains.

Climate: Tropical; cyclone season mid-December-April.


People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Mauritian(s).

Population: (2001) 1,205,677, including Rodrigues, Agalega, and St. Brandon.

Avg. annual population growth: (2001) 1%. Density—591/sq. km.

Ethnic groups: Indo-Mauritians 68%, Creoles 27%, Sino-Mauritians 3%, Franco-Mauritians 2%.

Religions: Hindu, Roman Catholic, Muslim.

Languages: Creole (common), French, English (official), Hindi, Urdu, Hakka, Bhojpuri.

Education: Years compulsory —6 (primary school). Attendance (primary school)—virtually universal. Literacy—adult population 85%; school population 90%.

Health: (2001) Infant mortality rate—13.7/1000. Life expectancy—male 68.3 yrs., female 75.4 yrs.

Work force: (2001, 538,500) Manufacturing—29%; trade and tourism—18%; government services—11%; agriculture and fishing—11%; other—31%.


Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: March 12, 1968 (became a republic in 1992).

Constitution: March 12, 1968.

Branches: Executive—president (head of state), prime minister (head of government), Council of Ministers. Legislative—Unicameral National Assembly. Judicial—Supreme Court.

Administrative subdivisions: 10.

Major political parties: Militant Socialist Movement (MSM), Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM), Mauritian Labor Party (MLP).

Suffrage: Universal over 18.

Defense: (2000) 1.7% of GDP.

Economy

GDP: (2003) $5.5 billion.

Real growth rate: (2003) 4.4%.

Per capita income: (2003) $4,484.

Avg. inflation rate: (2003) 4%.

Natural resources: None.

Agriculture: (6.4% of GDP) Products—sugar, sugar derivatives, tea, tobacco, vegetables, fruits, flowers and fishing.

Manufacturing: Including export processing zone (21.7% of GDP): Types—labor-intensive goods for export, including textiles and clothing, watches and clocks, jewelry, optical goods, toys and games, and cut flowers. Tourism sector—6% of GDP. Financial Services: 14% of GDP. Main countries of origin—France, including nearby French island Reunion, South Africa, and west European countries.

Trade: (2002) Exports—$1.8 billion: textiles and clothing, sugar, canned tuna, watches and clocks, jewelry, optical goods, toys and games, and flowers. Major markets—Europe and the U.S. Imports—$2.1 billion: meat, dairy products, fish, wheat, rice, wheat flour, vegetable oil, petroleum products, iron and steel, cement, fertilizers, machinery and transport equipment, and textile industry raw materials. Major suppliers—South Africa, France, China, India, U.K., Japan, Australia, and Germany.

Fiscal year: July 1-June 30.


HISTORY

While Arab and Malay sailors knew of Mauritius as early as the 10th century AD and Portuguese sailors first visited in the 16th century, the island was not colonized until 1638 by the Dutch. Mauritius was populated over the next few centuries by waves of traders, planters and their slaves, indentured laborers, merchants, and artisans. The island was named in honor of Prince Maurice of Nassau by the Dutch, who abandoned the colony in 1710.


The French claimed Mauritius in 1715 and renamed it Ile de France. It became a prosperous colony under the French East India Company. The French Government took control in 1767, and the island served as a naval and privateer base during the Napoleonic wars. In 1810, Mauritius was captured by the British, whose possession of the island was confirmed 4 years later by the Treaty of Paris. French institutions, including the Napoleonic code of law, were maintained. The French language is still used more widely than English.


Mauritian Creoles trace their origins to the plantation owners and slaves who were brought to work the sugar fields. Indo-Mauritians are descended from Indian immigrants who arrived in the 19th century to work as indentured laborers after slavery was abolished in 1835. Included in the Indo-Mauritian community are Muslims (about 15% of the population) from the Indian subcontinent.


The Franco-Mauritian elite controls nearly all of the large sugar estates and is active in business and banking. As the Indian population became numerically dominant and the voting franchise was extended, political power shifted from the Franco-Mauritians and their Creole allies to the Hindus.


Elections in 1947 for the newly created Legislative Assembly marked Mauritius' first steps toward self-rule. An independence campaign gained momentum after 1961, when the British agreed to permit additional self-government and eventual independence. A coalition composed of the Mauritian Labor Party (MLP), the Muslim Committee of Action (CAM), and the Independent Forward Bloc (IFB)—a traditionalist Hindu party—won a majority in the 1967 Legislative Assembly election, despite opposition from Franco-Mauritian and Creole supporters of Gaetan Duval's Mauritian Social Democratic Party (PMSD). The contest was interpreted locally as a referendum on independence. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, MLP leader and chief minister in the colonial government, became the first prime minister at independence, on March 12, 1968. This event was preceded by a period of communal strife, brought under control with assistance from British troops.




GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Mauritian politics are vibrant and characterized by coalition and alliance building. All parties are centrist and reflect a national consensus that supports democratic politics and a relatively open economy with a strong private sector.


Alone or in coalition, the Mauritian Labor Party (MLP) ruled from 1947 through 1982 and returned to power in 1995. The Mauritian Militant Movement/Mauritian Socialist Party (MMM/PSM) alliance won the 1982 election. In 1983, defectors from the MMM joined with the PSM to form the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM) and won a working majority. In July 1990, the MSM realigned with the MMM, and in September 1991, national elections won 59 of the 62 directly elected seats in parliament. In December 1995, the MLP returned to power, this time in coalition with the MMM. Labor's Navinchandra Ramgoolam, son of the country's first prime minister, became prime minister himself. Ramgoolam dismissed his MMM coalition partners in mid-1997, leaving Labor in power except for several small parties allied with it. Elections in September 2000 saw the re-emergence of the MSM-MMM as a winning alliance, as the coalition garnered 51.7% of the vote, and Sir Anerood Jugnauth once again became the prime minister with the caveat that midterm, the leader of the MMM party would take over as prime minister. In September 2003, in keeping with the campaign promise which forged the coalition, Jugnauth stepped down from office and deputy prime minister Paul Raymond Berenger became prime minister. One month later, Sir Anerood Jugnauth was sworn in as President of the Republic. Berenger became the first Catholic, Franco-Mauritian to head the government. The move created an historic precedent of having a non-Hindu, non-majority member head the national government.

Mauritius became a republic on March 12, 1992. The most immediate result was that a Mauritian-born president became head of state, replacing Queen Elizabeth II. Under the amended constitution, political power remained with parliament. The Council of Ministers (cabinet), responsible for the direction and control of the government, consists of the prime minister (head of government), the leader of the majority party in the legislature, and about 20 ministries.


The unicameral National Assembly has up to 70 deputies. Sixty-two are elected by universal suffrage, and as many as eight "best losers" are chosen from the runners-up by the Electoral Supervisory Commission using a formula designed to give at least minimal representation to all ethnic communities and under-represented parties. Elections are scheduled at least every 5 years.


Mauritian law is an amalgam of French and British legal traditions. The Supreme Court—a chief justice and five other judges—is the highest judicial authority. There is an additional right of appeal to the Queen's Privy Council. Local government has nine administrative divisions, with municipal and town councils in urban areas and district and village councils in rural areas. The island of Rodrigues forms the country's 10th administrative division.


Principal Government Officials
Last Updated: 1/2/04


President: Jugnauth, Anerood, Sir

Prime Minister: Berenger, Paul Raymond

Dep. Prime Min.: Jugnauth, Pravind

Min. of Agriculture, Food Technologies, & Natural Resources: Bodha, Nandcoomar

Min. of Arts & Culture: Ramdass, Motee

Min. of Civil Service Affairs & Administrative Reforms: Jeewah, Ahmad

Min. of Commerce & Cooperatives: Koonjoo, Premdut

Min. of Defense, Internal Affairs, & External Communications: Berenger, Paul Raymond

Min. of Education & Scientific Research: Obeegadoo, Steve

Min. of Environment: Bhagwan, Rajesh

Min. of Finance & Economic Development: Jugnauth, Pravind

Min. of Fisheries: Michel, Sylvio

Min. of Foreign Affairs, International Trade, & Regional Cooperation: Cuttaree, Jaya

Min. of Formation, Capacity Building, Employment, & Productivity: Fowdar, Sangeet

Min. of Health & Quality of Life: Jugnauth, Ashok

Min. of Industry, Financial Services, & Cooperative Affairs: Khushiram, Khushhal

Min. of Information Technology & Telecommunications: Jeeha, Deelchand

Min. of Justice & Human Rights: Shing, Emmanuel Leung

Min. of Labor & Industrial Relations: Soodhun, Showkutally

Min. of Lands & Housing, Small & Medium-Size Enterprises, & the Informal Sector: Lesjongard, Georges Pierre

Min. of Public Infrastructure, Land, Transport, & Shipping: Baichoo, Anil

Min. of Public Utilities: Ganoo, Alan

Min. of Regional Administration & Rodriguez: Putten, Prithviraj

Min. of Social Security, National Solidarity, Senior Citizens, Welfare, & Reform Institutions: Lauthan, Samioullah

Min. of Tourism & Leisure: Gayan, Anil

Min. of Women Rights, Child Development, & Family Welfare: Navarre-Marie, Arianne

Min. of Youth & Sports: Yerrigadoo, Ravi

Attorney General: Shing, Emmanuel Leung

Governor, Central Bank: Maraye, M. Dan

Ambassador to the US: Jeetah, Usha

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Koonjul, Jagdish

Mauritius maintains an embassy at 4301 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, (tel. 202-244-1491)




ECONOMY

Mauritius has one of the strongest economies in Africa, with a GDP of $4.5 billion in 2001 and per capita income close to $3,800. The economy has sustained high 6% annual growth rate for the last two decades—first driven by sugar, then textiles/apparel and tourism, and most recently by financial services. Independent assessments uniformly rank Mauritius as one of the most competitive economies in Africa. With a per capita income of U.S. $3,800, Mauritius is now classified as a middle-income country and ranks, on the basis of the recent Human Development Index for 173 countries, 67th globally, 40th among developing countries, and second in Africa.


Economic growth slowed down in 2001, falling to 5.8% from 9.3% in 1999, mainly as a result of a lower growth rate in the sugar and tourism sector. In 2002, the economy expanded by more than 4%, boosted considerably by increased trade through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) legislation.


Over the past several years Mauritius registered balance-of-payments surpluses leading to a comfortable external reserves position (currently equivalent to more than 9 months of imports), an external debt service ratio of only 7%, and modest single-digit inflation on average. The inflation rate increased from 4.2% in 2000 to 5.4% in 2001. It is expected to reach 6.3% in 2002, owing to the recent increase in the rate of VAT from 12% to 15% as well as large increases in government spending.


However, the rising trend in unemployment and the deterioration in public finances are matters of concern. The unemployment rate rose steadily from 2.7% in 1991 to 9.2% in 2001, representing 48,000 unemployed people. It reached just above 10% in 2002. The budget deficit increased from 3.8% of GDP in fiscal year 1999-2000 (July-June) to 6.7% in FY 2001-02. As a result of a series of fiscal measures taken by the government, the budget deficit was expected to fall to 6% on FY 2002-03. However, the government's objective is to bring down the budget deficit gradually to about 3% of GDP by FY 2005-06.

While Mauritius relies heavily on exports of sugar, textiles/garments, and tourism, services like Freeport, offshore business, and financial services constitute other pillars of the economy. The offshore sector is playing an increasingly important role in the financial services sector and is emerging as a growth vehicle for the economy. At the end of October 2002, the number of companies registered in the offshore sector reached 20,111. The Mauritius Freeport, the customs duty-free zone in the port and airport, aims at transforming Mauritius into a major regional distribution, transshipment, and marketing center. The Freeport zone provides facilities for warehousing, transshipment operations and minor processing, simple assembly, and repackaging. At the end of October 2002, the total number of Freeport licenses issued reached 940, of which 230 companies were operational, mostly in trading activities.


There has been growing realization on the part of the government that the traditional industries of sugar, textile, and tourism are no longer capable of sustaining further wealth and job creation. Accordingly, the government is giving high priority to the development of the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) sector with the aim of transforming Mauritius into a cyber island. The Business Parks of Mauritius, Ltd. was set up by the government to spearhead the development, construction, and management of major business and IT parks in Mauritius. It has secured a line of credit of $100 million from the Indian Government for the creation of the first cyber-city at Ebene, which is expected to be completed by December 2003. Already a number of renowned international firms engaged in software development, ICT training, PC manufacturing and call centers, are planning to start operations in the cyber city. Also expected to give a further boost to the development of the ICT sector are the recent operation of the Southern Africa Far East (SAFE) optical fiber cable and the liberalization of telecommunications services beginning January 1, 2003.

Although the near-term outlook for growth is encouraging, the challenges facing Mauritius in the long-term are daunting. On the domestic front, the decline in fertility and the aging of the population will decrease the available pool of labor for the economy, thus reducing the long-term growth potential. Also, before the end of this decade, the trade preferences and the market protection on which Mauritius has built its success will be eroded by the forces of globalization, liberalization, and economic integration. The elimination in December 2004 of the global quotas on clothing under the Multi-Fiber Arrangement will expose the local textile sector to competition from other exporting countries, including those in Asia and South America. In the case of sugar, ongoing negotiations between the European Union and sugar-exporting countries and future multilateral liberalization will likely reduce the profitability of the Mauritian sugar industry.


The government has taken a number of measures to prepare the country to face these challenges. With regard to sugar, the government has come up with a 5-year Sugar Sector Strategic Plan (2001-05), which provides for the restructuring and rationalization of the sugar industry, decreasing the number of sugar mills from 14 to 7 and reducing the current labor force of 30,000 by up to 7,000 through a voluntary retirement scheme. As far as the textile sector is concerned, the U.S.-Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which provides preferential access for apparel exports to the U.S. market, is expected to mitigate the negative effect of the elimination of the Multi-Fiber Agreement at the end of 2004. The AGOA also is seen as a good opportunity to diversify the sector by encouraging spinning and weaving operations and promoting regional integration of the local textile industry with other SubSaharan countries eligible for AGOA benefits.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Mauritius has strong and friendly relations with the West as well as with India and the countries of southern and eastern Africa. It is a member of the African Union (AU), World Trade Organization (WTO), the Commonwealth, La Francophonie, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the Indian Ocean Commission, Community of Eastern and South African States (COMESA), and the recently formed Indian Ocean Rim Association.


Trade, commitment to democracy, and the country's small size are driving forces behind Mauritian foreign policy. The country's political heritage and dependence on Western markets have led to close ties with the European Union and its member states, particularly the United Kingdom and France, which exercises sovereignty over neighboring Reunion.


Considered part of Africa geographically, Mauritius has friendly relations with other African states in the region, particularly South Africa, by far its largest continental trading partner. Mauritian investors are gradually entering African markets, notably Madagascar and Mozambique. Mauritius coordinates much of its foreign policy with the Southern Africa Development Community and the African Union.


Relations with India are strong for both historical and commercial reasons. Foreign embassies in Mauritius include Australia, the United Kingdom, China, Egypt, France, India, Madagascar, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States.




DEFENSE

Mauritius does not have a standing army. All military, police, and security functions are carried out by 10,000 active-duty personnel under the command of the Commissioner of Police. The 8,000-member National Police is responsible for domestic law enforcement. The 1,400-member Special Mobile Force (SMF) and the 688-member National Coast Guard are the only two paramilitary units in Mauritius. Both units are composed of police officers on lengthy rotations to those services.

The SMF is organized as a ground infantry unit and engages extensively in civic works projects. The Coast Guard has four patrol craft for search-and-rescue missions and surveillance of territorial waters. A 100-member police helicopter squadron assists in search-and-rescue operations. There also is a special supporting unit of 270 members trained in riot control.


Military advisers from the United Kingdom and India work with the SMF, the Coast Guard, and the Police Helicopter Unit, and Mauritian police officers are trained in the United Kingdom, India, and France. The United States provides training to Mauritian Coast Guard officers in such fields as seamanship and maritime law enforcement.




U.S.-MAURITIAN RELATIONS

Official U.S. representation in Mauritius dates from the end of the 18th century. An American consulate was established in 1794 but closed in 1911. It was reopened in 1967 and elevated to embassy status upon the country's independence in 1968. Since 1970, the mission has been directed by a resident U.S. ambassador.


Relations between the United States and Mauritius are cordial and largely revolve around trade. U.S. exports to Mauritius are modest but growing, particularly in telecommunications and other high-technology fields. In 2001, Mauritius imported U.S. goods valued at $62 million; the United States imported $333 million in Mauritian products—mostly knitwear, other textiles, and sugar. The proclamation of the AGOA II provisions on November 13, 2002, which provides for the duty-free entry of knit-to-shape garments into the U.S. market and the upcoming second U.S.-Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum scheduled for January 2003 in Mauritius, is expected to give a further boost to trade and investment between the United States and Mauritius.

The United States funds a small military assistance program focused on Coast Guard training. The embassy also manages special self-help funds for community groups and nongovernmental organizations and a democracy and human rights fund.


Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Port Louis (E), Rogers House (4th Fl.), John Kennedy St.,Tel: [230] 202-4400; 208-2347 Fax 208-9534; Int'l. mail: P.O. Box 544, Port Louis, Mauritius;U.S. mail:2450 Port Louis Place, Wash., D.C. 20521–2450. E-mail: [email protected]

AMB: John Price
DCM: Bisa Williams
MGT: Charles J. Slater
OMS: Terri G. Lindsey
POL/CON: Eric W. Kneedler
RSO: Jeffrey A. Burke
PAO: Daniel P. Claffey
IPO: Elizabeth M. Slater
FAA: Edward Jones (res. Dakar)
LAB: Virginia E. Palmer (res. Nairobi)
Naval Attache:CMDR Daniel M. Lafferty (res. Antananarivo)
Defense/Army Attache:LT COL Thomas Westfall (res. Nairobi)


Last Modified: Wednesday, September 24, 2003




TRAVEL


Consular Information Sheet
August 22, 2003


Country Description: The Republic of Mauritius is a small island nation of three inhabited and several other islands located in the southwestern Indian Ocean. Mauritius has a stable government and growing economy. Facilities for tourism are well developed. In order of frequency, Creole, French, and English are spoken; English and French are common in the main towns and tourist areas but may not be understood in outlying villages. The capital city is Port Louis.


Entry Requirements: A valid passport, onward/return ticket, and proof of sufficient funds are required. Visas are issued at the point of entry. The airport departure tax is included in the price of a plane ticket. Travelers coming from yellow fever-infected areas may be asked to present a yellow fever vaccination certificate. Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of Mauritius, 4301 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 441, Washington, D.C. 20008; telephone (202) 244-1491/2, or the Honorary Consulate in Los Angeles, telephone (310) 557-2009. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Mauritian embassy or consulate.


In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry and departure.


Safety and Security: U.S. citizens should avoid crowds and street demonstrations and maintain a low profile.


Crime: Petty crime is a problem. It is unwise to walk alone at night outside the immediate grounds of hotels. There is a potential for pickpocketing at the central market in Port Louis.


The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, contact the nearest U.S.

Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.


U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.


Medical Facilities: Medical facilities are available, but more limited than in the United States. Emergency assistance is limited. While public hospitals and clinics provide free care, many visitors may choose to be treated by private doctors and hospitals. Service Aide Medicale Urgence (SAMU) is a government organization that provides ambulance and emergency assistance in response to calls to 114 (Address: Volcy Pougnet Street, Port Louis). MegaCare is a private organization that provides assistance to subscribers only (Address: 99 Draper Avenue, Quatre Bornes; phone: 464-6116; 465-3812).


Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.


Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.


Other Health Information: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/iht.


Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Mauritius is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban RoadConditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Availability of Roadside/Ambulance Assistance: Fair


In Mauritius, one drives on the left side of the road. Roads are sometimes narrow and uneven with inadequate lighting. Speed limits are posted in kilometers per hour, but all road and traffic signs are posted in English. Drivers and front-seat passengers are required to wear seat belts. Drivers and passengers on motorcycles are required to wear helmets. Babies and toddlers should be placed in child safety seats.


Drivers involved in an accident are required by law to remain at the scene until the police arrive. However, if an angry crowd gathers and those involved in the accident feel threatened, police and judicial authorities have in the past not taken action against drivers who leave the scene if they have proceeded directly to a police station. While there are organizations that provide emergency or roadside assistance, their resources and capabilities are limited and they are on occasion unable to respond in non-life threatening incidents.


Public transportation by bus is available between the main towns until 10:30 p.m. and in remote areas until 6 p.m. Taxis are also available.

For additional information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Mauritian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority via the Internet at www.mauritius.net.


Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and Mauritius, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Mauritius' Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards.


For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.intl.faa.gov/avr/iasa. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.


Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Mauritian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs in Mauritius are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences from 20 years to life.

Import Prohibitions: Spearfishing equipment cannot be imported into Mauritius. All warm-blooded animals must undergo a minimum quarantine period of six months.


Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone 202-736-7000.


Registration/Embassy Location: U.S. citizens living in or visiting Mauritius are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Mauritius and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Mauritius. Registration forms can be obtained at the U.S. Embassy located at Rogers House (fourth floor) on John F. Kennedy Street in Port Louis, telephone (230) 202-4400; fax (230) 208-9534 or can be downloaded from the Consular section of the U.S. Embassy home page at http://mauritius.usembassy.gov. The Embassye mail address is [email protected]

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Mauritius

Mauritius

POPULATION 1,210,447
HINDU 52 percent
ROMAN CATHOLIC 26 percent
MUSLIM 16.6 percent
PROTESTANT 2.3 percent
OTHER 3.1 percent

Country Overview

INTRODUCTION

Mauritius is situated in the Indian Ocean and forms part of what is generally referred to as the Mascarene Islands (together with the islands of Rodrigues, Seychelles, and Réunion). Its history has been shaped over time by different colonial administrations. During the main part of the seventeenth century, the Dutch administered the island, from 1715 to 1810 it was a French colony, and from 1810 to 1968 it was under British administration. It became independent in 1968.

Because of the diversity of its culture and traditions, Mauritius is known as "the Rainbow Island." The first settlers came mainly from France during the period of French colonization, and they introduced slaves from Africa, Madagascar, and, to a lesser degree, India.

After slavery was abolished in 1835, there was an influx of Indian immigrants. The island also has a community of Chinese who arrived at different times during the colonial years.

The history of religion in the island was linked to that of political changes and colonial administration. During French colonial times, Catholicism was the state religion, and slaves were forced to give up their ancestral customs and traditions. In the nineteenth century the British administration encouraged the development of the Anglican Church but allowed the Catholic Church to continue with its mission. During the same period massive immigration from India changed the religious and cultural setting of the island thoroughly. These changes are visible today, with Hinduism being the main religion.

RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE

In order to preserve the character of a multicultural country practicing different faiths and religious customs, Mauritius guarantees freedom of religious practice (according to section two of the constitution, which was ratified in 1968). Mauritians practice no fewer than five of the major world religions.

Major Religions

HINDUISM

ROMAN CATHOLICISM

HINDUISM

DATE OF ORIGIN 1640 c.e.
NUMBER OF FOLLOWERS 629,400

HISTORY

Between 1728 and 1746 the French colonial government imported artisans, unskilled laborers, slaves, and sailors from South India. Many of them were Hindus who eventually remained in Isle de France (as Mauritius was then known). The first Hindu place of worship on the island was built in 1771 in Port Louis. In 1840 a Hindu temple was erected at Clemencia, and another, known as the Sinnatambou Temple, was later built at Terre Rouge.

Between the 1830s and the early 1930s, there was the mass importation of laborers from different regions of prepartitioned India. During this period Hindus in Mauritius suffered from prejudice and injustice. Few temples existed, and Indian culture was spread through teachings of the sacred books. Hindus struggled to maintain their values and cultural identities. Mauritius underwent a demographic revolution and saw the emergence of Hindu sacred places and other sites for social and cultural functions. Hinduism has become the most widely practiced religion in Mauritius.

EARLY AND MODERN LEADERS

The island's first Hindu leader, Manilal Doctor, went to Mauritius to defend the rights of the indentured laborers. Between 1907 and 1911 he helped establish the Arya Samaj Movement in Mauritius. Chiranjiva Bhardwaj contributed to strengthening the local branch of Arya Samaj with the goals of preventing mass conversion of Hindus to Christianity or Islam, spreading the teachings of Swami Dayanand Saraswati, and promoting Indian culture. During the 1920s and 1930s, Pandit Cashinath Kistoe, Pandit Atmaram, R.K. Boodhun, and Dunputh Lallah combated illiteracy and social injustice in the Hindu communities of Mauritius.

Between 1939 and the 1950s, Basdeo Bissoondoyal brought about a Hindu cultural revival and protested British colonialism. From the 1950s until the early 1980s, the best-known Hindu political leader in Mauritius was Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, head of the Labour Party and father of the nation. His successor, Sir Aneerood Jugnauth, formed the Mouvement Socialiste Mauricien (Mauritian socialist movement) in 1983. Outstanding spiritual leaders are Swami Ghanananda, who pioneered the Ramakrishna Mission in 1942, and Swami Krishnanand, who founded the Krishnanand Seva Ashram in Calebasses in 1980.

MAJOR THEOLOGIANS AND AUTHORS

Ramoo Sooriamoorthy (died in 1995) was a teacher and inspector of schools. His works include Les Tamouls à l'Ile Maurice (1977; "Tamils in Mauritius") and Le but ultime (1992; "The Ultimate Goal"). Pandit Atmaram Vishwanath (1884–1955) was an Indian journalist and writer who arrived in Mauritius in 1912 to work on Manilal Doctor's newspaper, the Hindustani. His books include a history of Mauritius (1923).

HOUSES OF WORSHIP AND HOLY PLACES

Hindus in Mauritius worship in temples and at spiritual centers. The most popular Hindu temples are Shri Sockalingum Meenatchee Ammen in Port Louis, Siva Temple on the banks of the Ganga Talao (a lake that is also called Grand Bassin), and MamaToukay temple at Camp Diable. Centers that attract many devotees include Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga Centre, the Sathya Sai Baba, and the Hare Rama Hare Krishna Centre. The most sacred place of worship for Hindus in Mauritius is the Ganga Talao, to which more than 400,000 Hindus pilgrimage annually.

WHAT IS SACRED?

Hindus in Mauritius follow the main rituals and customs as prescribed by Hinduism.

HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

The Maha Shivaratee Festival, in honor of the deity Shiva, is the most important Hindu festival in Mauritius. For this celebration devotees travel from all parts of the island to the sacred lake Ganga Talao in the south.

MODE OF DRESS

There is no distinctive way of dressing for Hindus in Mauritius.

DIETARY PRACTICES

The staple food of all Mauritian Hindus is rice. Hindus avoid eating beef and pork, and many are vegetarians.

RITUALS

Mauritians of Hindu faith follow the rituals that are recommended by the sacred texts.

RITES OF PASSAGE

Hinduism in Mauritius is based on what is set by the sacred texts, and there is no distinctive characteristic to be mentioned.

MEMBERSHIP

Because of the multiracial, multilingual, and multicultural aspects of Mauritian society, Hindu membership is a complex issue. Different communities have set up their own doctrines, practices, and ways of life. Hindus are members of Sanatanist movements or of the Arya Samaj. Tamils belong to another society called Tamil Associations. Telugu, whose families came from the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, have created their own organization, called Andhra Maha Sabha. The Marathis, whose ancestors were from the Maharashtra region in India, join the Marathi Mandali Federation.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

Arya Samaj, the reformist wing of Hinduism, was introduced in Mauritius in 1903. Besides promoting and propagating the Vedic culture (based on the Vedas, the earliest Hindu scriptures), it did much to establish justice and human rights during the colonial period. In the 1930s and 1940s the Labour Party fought for the rights of Hindu workers. Furthermore, during the 1940s the Bissoondoyal brothers from India took the Jan Andolan (mass movement) to Mauritius to sensitize the Hindu community about their rights. The Voice of Hindu movement in the 1990s emerged for the same purpose.

SOCIAL ASPECTS

Marriages are arranged within the caste system. Members of high castes continue to avoid marrying those of lower castes. Intercaste marriages have, however, become more common. Mixed marriages between Hindus and non-Hindus have also become common, although more traditional families tend to resist this trend.

POLITICAL IMPACT

Early Hindus who were involved in Mauritius's political, social, and economic affairs paved the way for many more Indians to join politics and to be members of the assembly. In 1936 the Mauritius Labour Party played an important role in influencing Indo-Mauritian professionals and intellectuals. This influence increased in 1952 with the leadership of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam. The Independent Forward Bloc, founded in 1958 and led by Sookdeo Bissoondoyal, also played a central role in molding a new generation of Hindu leaders. In the 1970s the MMM (Mouvement Militant Mauricien) offered young Hindu politicians an alternative to the Labour Party. During the 1980s and 1990s the Mouvement Socialiste Mauricien dominated Mauritian politics, and it was a mostly Hindu-controlled party.

CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES

Since the 1950s and 1960s there has been a split in the Hindu groups in Mauritius. During this period the Tamils, Telegus, and Marathis began to feel that they had a different identity from that of the Hindi-speaking Hindus of Bihari origin. They celebrate their own religious festivals, and they have their own representatives in the parliament.

Before 1983 only Brahman priests were allowed to perform religious ceremonies, but now priests of other castes may also perform the rituals.

CULTURAL IMPACT

Mauritian arts have been largely influenced by Hinduism. Hindu myths can be found in the novels and poems of Abhimanyu Unnuth, Robert Edward Hart, Malcolm de Chazal, and Marcel Cabon.

ROMAN CATHOLICISM

DATE OF ORIGIN 20 September 1715 c.e.
NUMBER OF FOLLOWERS 314,700

HISTORY

During the French occupation of Mauritius (1715–1810), Catholicism was regarded as the state religion. All servile laborers imported from Africa, Madagascar, and India were converted by force to Catholicism.

When the British took over the administration of the island in 1810, they spared no effort for the promotion of the Anglican Church. They also, however, granted liberty of religious faith and practice to the inhabitants through Article VIII of the Capitulation Treaty.

The colonial office in London insisted that all ecclesiastical superiors in British colonies be of British origin. The Mauritian diocese was then separated from the Roman Curia, and a British vicar apostolic was nominated to look after religious matters in Mauritius, as well as in the lands of Saint Helena Island, the Cape of Good Hope, Madagascar, the Seychelles, Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. Priests serving in Mauritius either had to be British or to bear allegiance to the British flag. This situation caused tension between the church, the state, and the Franco-Mauritian community. Despite such difficulties, Catholicism continued to prosper, and it remains a stronghold of Christian faith in Mauritius.

EARLY AND MODERN LEADERS

Allan Collier, bishop of Port Louis from 1841 to 1862, was the architect of the Catholic revival in Mauritius. He convinced the British administration to finance the building of new churches and schools. He brought congregations of nuns from France (Les Dames de Lorette) and founded the congregations Bon et Perpétuel Secours, La Confrérie du Rosaire, and Notre Dame des Victoires. He also started orphanages and special missions for the poor and the sick.

With James Leen and Daniel Liston at the head of the Mauritian Catholic Church (1926–49 and 1949–68, respectively), Catholicism thrived again. Both believed that the church had to meet the needs of a changing society. Liston pleaded for a new generation of Mauritian priests who would take up the challenge when independence was granted to Mauritius. Jean Margéot was the first Mauritian to be made head of the Catholic Church on the island. He became cardinal in 1988 and was succeeded as bishop by Maurice Piat.

Also important was the missionary work of Father Jacques Désiré Laval, known as the Apostle of Mauritius. He arrived in 1841, some seven years after the abolition of slavery, to take charge of the evangelization of the 80,000 blacks. Laval was beatified in 1979.

MAJOR THEOLOGIANS AND AUTHORS

There have been no major Catholic theologians in Mauritius. However, the historical research conducted by Monsignor Amédée Nagapen is notable; his publications include a history of the Catholic Church in Mauritius.

HOUSES OF WORSHIP AND HOLY PLACES

The main Catholic ceremonies in Mauritius are held in the Saint Louis Cathedral in Port Louis, which was inaugurated in 1782 after a long series of misfortunes that delayed its construction. It is dedicated to the patron saint of the town, Saint Louis.

The Marie Reine de La Paix (Mary, queen of peace) Square, inaugurated and dedicated to the Virgin Mary in 1940, is one of the main rallying places for ceremonies held in the open. Notable ceremonies there have included the beatification of Father Laval in 1979, the pastoral visit of Pope John Paul II in 1989, the ordination ceremonies of Mauritian priests, and the installation of both Cardinal Margéot and Monsignor Piat as bishops of Port Louis.

The burial place of Father Laval has become a place of devotion and pilgrimage for Mauritians of all faiths. On the eve of the anniversary of his death, thousands of pilgrims gather at his grave to pray.

WHAT IS SACRED?

In terms of what is considered sacred, there is nothing distinctive about the way the Catholic faith is expressed in Mauritius.

HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

Apart from the usual Catholic holidays, Mauritians show much fervor and devotion on Assumption Day (15 August), held in celebration of the Virgin Mary. On Assumption Day, Mass is celebrated in all parishes. Families gather to mark the occasion and to share a meal after the traditional religious ceremony.

MODE OF DRESS

Because the practice of Catholicism has been linked since colonial times to European culture, most Mauritian Catholics dress in European clothes. In the decades after independence, however, there has been a revival of traditional clothes among Indo-Mauritian Catholics who, for special Hindu celebrations such as the Divali (the festival of lights), dress in typical Indian clothes for a special Mass held on that occasion. The same is true for Chinese of Catholic faith, who, for special Chinese festivals, such as the Festival of the Moon, decorate their church in red and dress in typical Chinese costumes for religious celebrations.

DIETARY PRACTICES

For the most part Mauritian Catholics follow Catholic traditions regarding dietary practices. Certain occasions are marked by special meals. On the Monday following Easter or on Christmas Day, Mauritians usually gather for a family lunch. Because Mauritian cuisine is multicultural, it is common to have as a main course faratas (Indian bread) and chicken curry. In villages the main dish could be a savory monkey curry.

On Assumption Day a special cake, gâteau Marie (Mary's cake), is baked and decorated in blue and white in honor of the Virgin Mary.

RITUALS

Different ceremonies mark the lives of Mauritian Catholics, and there are traditions and customs linked to these occasions. At the birth of a child the family gathers for the christening, celebrating with a meal and festivities that can last a whole day.

When a family member dies, there is an elaborate system of customs. On the night of the death, family, friends, and neighbors gather at the home of the deceased for a vigil. Prayers are said, and for eight days family and friends pray together for the soul of the deceased. Masses are also said for the souls in purgatory and for deceased family members.

For the first Communion buns are baked and blessed. Families gather for a special lunch, and buns are distributed as the child receiving his or her first Communion is taken to visit neighbors, friends, and acquaintances.

RITES OF PASSAGE

Mauritians of Catholic faith mark various life transitions by participating in the sacraments of the Catholic Church.

MEMBERSHIP

The Catholic Church has done missionary work in the Indo-Mauritian and Chinese ethnic communities in Mauritius. Christians of Indian origin have been part of the Mauritian community since the initial colonization of the island. They were either slaves who had been baptized by force or free Indians from Pondichery who went to Mauritius as traders, masons, brick makers, workers, or topaz soldiers (born of a French father and an Indian mother).

The development of Catholicism within the Chinese community dates back to 1873, when Monsignor William Sacrisbrick evangelized to them. After World War II the Chinese Catholic Mission, which had been painstakingly developed over the years, counted some 2,700 members (25 percent of the Chinese population). It remains an active community in the Catholic Church of Mauritius.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

In the 1950s Father Eugène Dethise launched the Ligue Ouvrière d'Action Catholique, which regrouped workers from the industrial sector. Affiliated with it are different associations, such as the Action Catholique des Enfants (for children's rights), La Ligue Ouvrière d'Action Catholique/Association Féminine Ouvrière (for women's rights), and La Commision Diocésaine du Monde Ouvrier (for the rights of industrial workers). Their main goal is to create an awareness among Catholics about their rights and duties as citizens of Mauritius.

With growing problems within Mauritian society, such as poverty, prostitution, drug addiction, and delinquency, the church encourages its members to join the different church movements to address such issues. The church actively participates in community life in trying to find solutions to these social ills.

SOCIAL ASPECTS

Family life has remained quite traditional in Mauritius, with children leaving their parent's home only when they get married or when they go abroad to study. The conventional family setting is the nuclear family with an average of two children. Marriage being at the very heart of family life, it has both a religious and social function. The couple's entire family, neighbors, and friends are invited and actively take part in preparing the ceremony. Changes are slowly taking place, however. A small percentage of couples choose to live together without being married, and young professionals back from their studies tend to live on their own.

POLITICAL IMPACT

Ethnicity has tended to play a key role in Mauritian politics, with citizens voting along ethnic lines and Hindus of Indian descent dominating the government. In 2003 Paul Bérenger, a Catholic of French descent, became the prime minister of Mauritius, the first non-Hindu to hold that position. He represented the Mouvement Militant Mauricien political party, which aims to transcend ethnic-based politics.

CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES

Because of its educational policy, the Catholic Church in Mauritius has been engaged in a conflict with the state over the notion of "specificity" of Catholic education. The state maintains that all students, irrespective of their creed, should be given free access to schools as provided by the government grant system. The Catholics maintain, however, that 50 percent of their recruits should be Catholic in order to maintain the "specificity" of their educational program in the 11 secondary schools that they run. In December 2002 a complaint was lodged against the Catholic Church for discriminatory practices on religious grounds in the choice of their students.

Other Religions

The first Muslims in Mauritius were slaves from Senegal and Mozambique, but Islam was taken to Mauritius mainly by the Indian sailors and laborers who went to work on the island during the French occupation. With the mass arrival of traders from Gujarat, weavers from Bihar, and laborers from other parts of India, there was a steady increase in the Muslim community. The Muslim presence became permanent, and gradually there developed an awareness of the educational, cultural, and religious needs of the Muslim community. With the emergence of Muslim leaders such as G.M.D. Atchia, Hassen Sakir, and Sir Razack Mohamed, Muslims have become part of Mauritius's socioeconomic development and political progress.

The principal mosque in Mauritius is the Jummah mosque in Port Louis, erected in 1856. It is visited by thousands of Muslims for daily prayers, and most major religious festivals are celebrated there. The Al-Aqsa mosque in Plaine Verte, where the Muslim community is grouped, is also popular.

Noormamode Noorooya, editor of the newspaper Islamisme, had been in close contact with the Ahmadiyah movement (founded in Qadian, Punjab, India), and he initiated the Mauritian Ahmadiyah movement in 1913. The first missionary from India came 1915. After this, more Muslim families joined the movement and formed the Ahmadiyah Muslim Association of Mauritius. It is from Mauritius that Ahmadism has spread its influence on the other islands of the Indian Ocean.

The Anglican presence in Mauritius dates to the early months of the British occupation, when the soldiers and sailors attended religious services in the barracks on Sundays. Sir Robert Farquhar, having understood that the French plantocracy would not be easily converted to the Protestant faith, turned toward the slave population and the free "coloured" men. In 1814 he called upon Rev. Jean Lebrun to serve this community in particular. Lebrun developed a two-pronged approach, incorporating both education and conversion to Protestantism. With the support of the London Missionary Society and the Mico Society, a strategy for the rehabilitation of the slaves was undertaken. Lebrun succeeded in opening 28 schools. He was sent away in 1832 by the Franco-Mauritian antiabolitionists, who were close to the governor. His work was soon taken over by Jacques Désiré Laval, a Catholic priest. The mission of the Anglican Church then turned to the Indian immigrants. There has been a decline in the number of Mauritian Anglicans. In 1854 Mauritius became an Anglican diocese, and the bishop took the title of Bishop of Mauritius. Monsignor Ian Ernest was appointed bishop in 2001.

In Mauritius there has been a latent conflict between the Catholic Church and the Church of England concerning the status of both churches. Both the Catholic and Anglican churches, together with the Presbyterian Church, are actively engaged in ecumenism, hosting special ecumenical services in different churches each year during January.

The presence of the Presbyterian Church in Mauritius has been marked mostly by the work of Rev. Lebrun in the field of education. Another well-known Presbyterian minister was Rev. Patrick Beaton, who served from 1851 to 1857 and who wrote Creoles and Coolies, in which he depicted the living conditions of the latter. Despite a small congregation, the church remains active. Pastor Rodney Curpanen was appointed moderator of the church in 1999.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church also has a presence in Mauritius. Upon his arrival in Mauritius in 1914, French missionary Paul Badaut discovered frustration in the Catholic community, especially among the working class. Targeting this social group, he started his mission in different regions of the island. In 1949 the Adventist Church opened a secondary school in Phoenix. In 1982 Adventists opened a home for the elderly in Quatre-Bornes as well as a center for young people in Belle-Mare.

The Pentecostal Movement, especially the Assembly of God under the impulsion of Pastor Aimé Ciseron in 1967, has been actively involved in evangelization in Mauritius. Pentecostalists have places of worship in different regions of the island. The congregation seems to have been growing.

The Jehovah's Witnesses movement was launched in Mauritius in 1933 by an American, Robert Nisbet, and it gained momentum with the work started by the Canadian Ralph Bennett in 1953. The movement has become autonomous over the years, with elders being recruited from among the Mauritian community.

In 1953 an American woman, Ottilie Rherm, introduced the Bahai faith on the island. Since 1956 some 130 spiritual centers have been opened in the main towns and rural areas. In 1972 the Mauritian government acknowledged the Bahai faith, which is kept alive by more than 10,000 adepts.

Soon Fo Lim Fat sparked an interested in Buddhism among the Mauritian Chinese community. A small pagoda known as the Lim Fat was built in 1948 in Port Louis. With the growing number of followers, other pagodas were set up but have been influenced by popular cults of China. Mauritians have therefore blended Buddhism with Chinese rituals, and this new practice prevails among the Chinese community.

Shakuntala Boolell and

Danielle Tranquille

See Also Vol. 1: Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Roman Catholicism

Bibliography

Beaton, Patrick. Creoles and Coolies; Or, Five Years in Mauritius. 1859. Reprint (2nd ed.), Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1971.

Boodhoo, Sarita. Kanya Dan: The Why's of Hindu Marriage Rituals. Port Louis, Mauritius: Mauritius Bhojpuri Institute, 1993.

Burrun, Breejan. Histoire des religions des îles Maurice et Rodrigues. Vacoas, Mauritius: Editions le Printemps, 2002.

Catholic Church. Le phénomène des sectes ou nouveaux mouvements religieux: Défi pastoral—Rapport intermédiaire basé sur les réponses (env 75) et la documentation au 30 octobre 1985 des conférences épiscopales régionales ou nationales. Kinshasa: Editions Saint Paul Afrique, 1986.

Dukhira, Chit G. History of Mauritius: Experiments in Democracy. New Delhi: Brijbasi Art Press Ltd., 2002.

Emrith, Moomtaz. History of the Muslims in Mauritius. Vacoas, Mauritius: Editions le printemps, 1994.

Moutou, Benjamin. Les chrétiens de l'île Maurice. Port Louis, Mauritius: Best Graphics, Ltd., 1996.

Nagapen, Amédée. Histoire de l'église, Isle de France—Ile Maurice, 1721–1968. Port Louis, Mauritius: Diocese of Port Louis, 1996.

——. Histoire de la colonie: Isle de France—Ile Maurice, 1721–1968. Port Louis, Mauritius: Diocese of Port Louis, 1996.

——. The Indian Christian Community in Mauritius. Port Louis, Mauritius: Roman Catholic Diocese of Port Louis, 1984.

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Mauritius

MAURITIUS

Compiled from the January 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Mauritius


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 1,865 sq. km. (720 sq. mi.), about the size of Rhode Island; 500 miles east of Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean.

Dependencies: Rodrigues Island, the Agalega Islands and Cargados Carajos Shoals; Mauritius also claims sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago, part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, where U.S. Naval Support Facility at Diego Garcia is located.

Cities: Capital—Port Louis (pop. 146,319). Other cities—Beau Bassin and Rose Hill (105,377), Vacoas-Phoenix (101,789), Curepipe (82,756), Quatre Bornes (77,145).

Terrain: Volcanic island surrounded by coral reefs. A central plateau is rimmed by mountains.

Climate: Tropical; cyclone season mid-December-April.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Mauritian(s).

Population: (2003) 1,228,965, including Rodrigues, Agalega, and St. Brandon.

Avg. annual population growth: (2001) 1%. Density—602/sq. km.

Ethnic groups: Indo-Mauritians 68%, Creoles 27%, Sino-Mauritians 3%, Franco-Mauritians 2%.

Religions: Hindu, Roman Catholic, Muslim.

Languages: Creole (common), French, English (official), Hindi, Urdu, Hakka, Bhojpuri.

Education: Years compulsory—6 (primary school). Attendance (primary school)—virtually universal. Literacy—adult population 85%; school population 90%.

Health: (2001) Infant mortality rate—13.2/1000. Life expectancy—male 68.6 yrs., female 75.5 yrs.

Work force: (2003, 549,500) Manufacturing—27%; trade and tourism—19.6%; government services—11%; agriculture and fishing—9.4%; other—33%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: March 12, 1968 (became a republic in 1992).

Constitution: March 12, 1968.

Branches: Executive—president (head of state), prime minister (head of government), Council of Ministers. Legislative—Unicameral National Assembly. Judicial—Supreme Court.

Administrative subdivisions: 10.

Political parties: Militant Socialist Movement (MSM), Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM), Mauritian Labor Party (MLP).

Suffrage: Universal over 18.

Defense: (2000) 1.7% of GDP.

Economy

GDP: (2004) $6 billion.

Real growth rate: (2004) 4.6%.

Per capita income: (2004) $4,900.

Avg. inflation rate: (2004) 4.8%.

Natural resources: None.

Agriculture: (6.2% of GDP) Products—sugar, sugar derivatives, tea, tobacco, vegetables, fruits, flowers and fishing.

Manufacturing: including export processing zone (21.5% of GDP) Types—labor-intensive goods for export, including textiles and clothing, watches and clocks, jewelry, optical goods, toys and games, and cut flowers.

Tourism: (5.8% of GDP) Main countries of origin—France, including nearby French island Reunion, South Africa, and west European countries.

Financial services: 10% of GDP.

Trade: (2003) Exports—$1.9 billion: textiles and clothing, sugar, canned tuna, watches and clocks, jewelry, optical goods, toys and games, and flowers. Major markets—Europe and the U.S. Imports—$2.3 billion: meat, dairy products, fish, wheat, rice, wheat flour, vegetable oil, petroleum products, iron and steel, cement, fertilizers, machinery and transport equipment, and textile industry raw materials. Major suppliers—South Africa, France, China, India, U.K., Japan, Australia, and Germany.

Fiscal year: July 1-June 30.


HISTORY

While Arab and Malay sailors knew of Mauritius as early as the 10th century AD and Portuguese sailors first visited in the 16th century, the island was first colonized in 1638 by the Dutch. Mauritius was populated over the next few centuries by waves of traders, planters and their slaves, indentured laborers, merchants, and artisans. The island was named in honor of Prince Maurice of Nassau by the Dutch, who abandoned the colony in 1710.

The French claimed Mauritius in 1715 and renamed it Ile de France. It became a prosperous colony under the French East India Company. The French Government took control in 1767, and the island served as a naval and privateer base during the Napoleonic wars. In 1810, Mauritius was captured by the British, whose possession of the island was confirmed 4 years later by the Treaty of Paris. French institutions, including the Napoleonic code of law, were maintained. The French language is still used more widely than English.

Mauritian Creoles trace their origins to the plantation owners and slaves who were brought to work the sugar fields. Indo-Mauritians are descended from Indian immigrants who arrived in the 19th century to work as indentured laborers after slavery was abolished in 1835. Included in the Indo-Mauritian community are Muslims (about 17% of the population) from the Indian subcontinent.

Franco-Mauritians control nearly all of the large sugar estates and is active in business and banking. As the Indian population became numerically dominant and the voting franchise was extended, political power shifted from the Franco-Mauritians and their Creole allies to the Hindus.

Elections in 1947 for the newly created Legislative Assembly marked Mauritius' first steps toward self-rule. An independence campaign gained momentum after 1961, when the British agreed to permit additional self-government and eventual independence. A coalition composed of the Mauritian Labor Party (MLP), the Muslim Committee of Action (CAM), and the Independent Forward Bloc (IFB)—a traditionalist Hindu party—won a majority in the 1967 Legislative Assembly election, despite opposition from Franco-Mauritian and Creole supporters of Gaetan Duval's Mauritian Social Democratic Party (PMSD). The contest was interpreted locally as a referendum on independence. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, MLP leader and chief minister in the colonial government, became the first prime minister at independence, on March 12, 1968. This event was preceded by a period of communal strife, brought under control with assistance from British troops.

Government and Political Conditions

Mauritian politics are vibrant and characterized by coalition and alliance building. All parties are centrist and reflect a national consensus that supports democratic politics and a relatively open economy with a strong private sector. Parliamentary elections will be held in 2005.

Alone or in coalition, the Mauritian Labor Party (MLP) ruled from 1947 through 1982 and returned to power in 1995. The Mauritian Militant Movement/Mauritian Socialist Party (MMM/PSM) alliance won the 1982 election. In 1983, defectors from the MMM joined with the PSM to form the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM) and won a working majority. In July 1990, the MSM realigned with the MMM, and in September 1991, national elections won 59 of the 62 directly elected seats in parliament. In December 1995, the MLP returned to power, this time in coalition with the MMM. Labor's Navinchandra Ramgoolam, son of the country's first prime minister, became prime minister himself. Ramgoolam dismissed his MMM coalition partners in mid-1997, leaving Labor in power except for several small parties allied with it. Elections in September 2000 saw the re-emergence of the MSM-MMM as a winning alliance, as the coalition garnered 51.7% of the vote, and Sir Anerood Jugnauth once again became the prime minister with the caveat that midterm, the leader of the MMM party would take over as prime minister. In September 2003, in keeping with the campaign promise which forged the coalition, Jugnauth stepped down from office and deputy prime minister Paul Raymond Berenger became prime minister. One month later, Sir Anerood Jugnauth was sworn in as President of the Republic. Berenger became the first Catholic, Franco-Mauritian to head the government. The move created an historic precedent of having a non-Hindu, nonmajority member head the national government.

Mauritius became a republic on March 12, 1992. The most immediate result was that a Mauritian-born president became head of state, replacing Queen Elizabeth II. Under the amended constitution, political power remained with parliament. The Council of Ministers (cabinet), responsible for the direction and control of the government, consists of the prime minister (head of government), the leader of the majority party in the legislature, and about 20 ministries.

The unicameral National Assembly has up to 70 deputies. Sixty-two are elected by universal suffrage, and as many as eight "best losers" are chosen from the runners-up by the Electoral Supervisory Commission using a formula designed to give at least minimal representation to all ethnic communities and under-represented parties. Elections are scheduled at least every 5 years.

Mauritian law is an amalgam of French and British legal traditions. The Supreme Court—a chief justice and five other judges—is the highest judicial authority. There is an additional right of appeal to the Queen's Privy Council. Local government has nine administrative divisions, with municipal and town councils in urban areas and district and village councils in rural areas. The island of Rodrigues forms the country's 10th administrative division.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 1/2/04

President: Jugnauth , Anerood, Sir
Prime Minister: Berenger , Paul Raymond
Dep. Prime Min.: Jugnauth , Pravind
Min. of Agriculture, Food Technologies, & Natural Resources: Bodha , Nandcoomar
Min. of Arts & Culture: Ramdass , Motee
Min. of Civil Service Affairs & Administrative Reforms: Jeewah , Ahmad
Min. of Commerce & Cooperatives: Koonjoo , Premdut
Min. of Defense, Internal Affairs, & External Communications: Berenger , Paul Raymond
Min. of Education & Scientific Research: Obeegadoo , Steve
Min. of Environment: Bhagwan , Rajesh
Min. of Finance & Economic Development: Jugnauth , Pravind
Min. of Fisheries: Michel , Sylvio
Min. of Foreign Affairs, International Trade, & Regional Cooperation: Cuttaree , Jaya
Min. of Formation, Capacity Building, Employment, & Productivity: Fowdar , Sangeet
Min. of Health & Quality of Life: Jugnauth , Ashok
Min. of Industry, Financial Services, & Cooperative Affairs: Khushiram , Khushhal
Min. of Information Technology & Telecommunications: Jeeha , Deelchand
Min. of Justice & Human Rights: Shing , Emmanuel Leung
Min. of Labor & Industrial Relations: Soodhun , Showkutally
Min. of Lands & Housing, Small & Medium-Size Enterprises, & the Informal Sector: Lesjongard , Georges Pierre
Min. of Public Infrastructure, Land, Transport, & Shipping: Baichoo , Anil
Min. of Public Utilities: Ganoo , Alan
Min. of Regional Administration & Rodriguez: Putten , Prithviraj
Min. of Social Security, National Solidarity, Senior Citizens, Welfare, & Reform Institutions: Lauthan , Samioullah
Min. of Tourism & Leisure: Gayan , Anil
Min. of Women Rights, Child Development, & Family Welfare: Navarre-Marie , Arianne
Min. of Youth & Sports: Yerrigadoo , Ravi
Attorney General: Shing , Emmanuel Leung
Governor, Central Bank: Maraye , M. Dan
Ambassador to the US: Jeetah , Usha
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Koonjul , Jagdish

Mauritius maintains an embassy at 4301 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, (tel. 202-244-1491)


ECONOMY

Mauritius has one of the strongest economies in Africa, with a GDP at market prices estimated at $6 billion in 2004 and per capita income of $4,900. Over the past two decades, real output growth averaged just below 6% per year, leading to a more than doubling of per capita income and a marked improvement in social indicators. Economic growth was first driven by sugar, then textiles and tourism, and more recently by financial services (particularly offshore companies). The information and communications technology (ICT) sector is now emerging as the fifth pillar of the economy, following massive investment by government in the last three years in related infrastructure (the newly built Ebene Cyber City is one example) and training.

However, the economy is now facing some serious challenges, including the decline in the rate of economic growth, increasing unemployment, an increasing public sector deficit, and an increasing domestic debt. In 2003, GDP grew by 4.3%, up from 1.8% in 2002 when sugar production was diminished by a hurricane. The growth rate for 2004 is forecast at 4.6%. However, this is still below the average growth rate of the past two decades.

Mauritius stands today at the crossroads of its future development. The main engines of growth in the Mauritian economy, namely the sugar and textile industries, are faced with the erosion of preferential trade arrangements stemming from the proposed reforms of the European Union sugar regime, the phasing out of the Multi Fiber Agreement, and the increasing trend towards the globalization of world trade. The prospects of intensified global competition from low-wage countries (particularly China and India) and limited future opportunities for preferential trade arrangements represent serious constraints on future growth.

Realizing the need to diversify the economy, Mauritius has embarked on an ambitious development strategy to find new drivers for economic growth. The government is putting emphasis on the development of the ICT sector and the promotion of Mauritius as a seafood hub in the region, using existing facilities at the Freeport (free trade zones at the port and airport). Measures are also being taken to modernize and restructure the sugar and textile sectors through better technology and greater capitalization.

The business climate is friendly yet extremely competitive. Mauritius has a long tradition of private entrepreneurship, which has led to a strong and dynamic private sector. Firms entering the market will find a well-developed legal and commercial infrastructure. With regard to telecommunications, Mauritius has a well-developed digital infrastructure and offers state-of-the-art telecommunications facilities including international leased lines and high speed Internet access. Telecommunications services were liberalized in January 2003. The government policy is to act as a facilitator to business, leaving production to the private sector. However, it still controls key utility services directly or through parastatals, including electricity, water, waste water, postal services, and broadcasting. The State Trading Corporation controls imports of rice, flour, petroleum products, and cement.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Mauritius has strong and friendly relations with the West as well as with India and the countries of southern and eastern Africa. It is a member of the African Union (AU), World Trade Organization (WTO), the Commonwealth, La Francophonie, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the Indian Ocean Commission, Community of Eastern and South African States (COMESA), and the recently formed Indian Ocean Rim Association. In 2004, Prime Minister Berenger became chairman of SADC for a one-year term.

Trade, commitment to democracy, colonial and cultural ties, and the country's small size are driving forces behind Mauritian foreign policy. The country's political heritage and dependence on Western markets have led to close ties with the European Union and its member states, particularly the United Kingdom and France, which exercises sovereignty over neighboring Reunion.

Considered part of Africa geographically, Mauritius has friendly relations with other African states in the region, particularly South Africa, by far its largest continental trading partner. Mauritian investors are gradually entering African markets, notably Madagascar and Mozambique. Mauritius coordinates much of its foreign policy with the Southern Africa Development Community and the African Union.

Relations with India are strong for both historical and commercial reasons. Foreign embassies in Mauritius include Australia, the United Kingdom, China, Egypt, France, India, Madagascar, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, and the United States.


DEFENSE

Mauritius does not have a standing army. All military, police, and security functions are carried out by 10,000 active-duty personnel under the command of the Commissioner of Police. The 8,000-member National Police is responsible for domestic law enforcement. The 1,400-member Special Mobile Force (SMF) and the 688-member National Coast Guard are the only two paramilitary units in Mauritius. Both units are composed of police officers on lengthy rotations to those services.

The SMF is organized as a ground infantry unit and engages extensively in civic works projects. The Coast Guard has four patrol craft for search-and-rescue missions and surveillance of territorial waters. A 100-member police helicopter squadron assists in search-and-rescue operations. There also is a special supporting unit of 270 members trained in riot control.

Military advisers from the United Kingdom and India work with the SMF, the Coast Guard, and the Police Helicopter Unit, and Mauritian police officers are trained in the United Kingdom, India, and France. The United States provides training to Mauritian security officers in such fields as counter-terrorism methods, seamanship, and maritime law enforcement.


U.S.-MAURITIAN RELATIONS

Official U.S. representation in Mauritius dates from the end of the 18th century. An American consulate established in 1794 closed in 1911. It was reopened in 1967 and elevated to embassy status upon the country's independence in 1968. Since 1970, the mission has been directed by a resident U.S. ambassador.

Relations between the United States and Mauritius are cordial and largely revolve around trade. The United States is Mauritius' third-largest market but ranks 12th in terms of exports to Mauritius. Principal imports from the U.S. include aircraft parts (for Air Mauritius), automatic data processing machines, diamonds, jewelry, radio/TV transmission apparatus, telecommunications equipment, agricultural/construction/industrial machinery and equipment, casino slot machines, outboard motors, books and encyclopedias, and industrial chemicals.

Mauritian exports to the U.S. include apparel, sugar, non-industrial diamonds, jewelry articles, live animals, sunglasses, and cut flowers. The United States is the number one market for Mauritian garments. It emerged as the single largest market for shirts and trousers in 2002 and 2003. In November 2004 the U.S. Congress exempted Mauritius for one year from the third country fabric provision under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This exemption is expected to give a further boost to Mauritian export of apparel to the United States.

More than 200 U.S. companies are represented in Mauritius. About 35 have offices in Mauritius, serving the domestic and/or the regional market, mainly in the information technology (IT), textile, fast food, express courier, and financial services sectors. The largest U.S. subsidiaries are Caltex Oil Mauritius and Esso Mauritius. U.S. brands are sold widely. Several U.S. franchises, notably Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, McDonald's, and Toys R Us have opened in recent years.

The United States funds a small military assistance program. The embassy also manages special self-help funds for community groups and nongovernmental organizations and a democracy and human rights fund.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

PORT LOUIS (E) Address: Rogers House, Port Louis, Mauritius; Phone: (230) 202-4400; Fax: (230) 208-9534; INMARSAT Tel: 881631439038/881631439039; Workweek: Monday-Friday, 0730-1600; Website: http://mauritius.usembassy.gov/

AMB:John Price
AMB OMS:Kelly Hopkins
DCM:Stephen Schwartz
DCM OMS:vacant
POL:James Liddle
COM:Dewitt Conklin
CON:Dewitt Conklin
MGT:Judith Semilota
CLO:Vacant
CUS:E.J. Chong
DAO:Cathy Ripley
DEA:Jeff Wagner
ECO/COM:DeWitt Conklin
EEO:Marjorie Harrison
EST:Unknown
FAA:Ed Jones
FCS:Johnnie Brown
FMO:Victor Carbonell
ICASS Chair:Stephen Schwartz
IMO:Hava Hegenbarth
INS:Robert Ballow
ISSO:Daniel Norman
LAB:Unknown
LEGATT:Mike Bonner
PAO:Marjorie Harrison
RSO:David Walsh
Last Updated: 10/1/2004

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

May 7, 2004

Country Description: The Republic of Mauritius is a small island nation of three inhabited and several other islands located in the southwestern Indian Ocean. Mauritius has a stable government and growing economy. Facilities for tourism are well developed. In order of frequency, Creole, French, and English are spoken; English and French are common in the main towns and tourist areas but may not be understood in outlying villages. The capital city is Port Louis.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A valid passport, onward/return ticket, and proof of sufficient funds are required. Visas are issued at the point of entry. The airport departure tax is included in the price of a plane ticket. Travelers coming from yellow fever-infected areas may be asked to present a yellow fever vaccination certificate. Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of Mauritius, 4301 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 441, Washington, D.C. 20008; telephone (202) 244-1491/2, or the Honorary Consulate in Los Angeles, telephone (310) 557-2009. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Mauritian embassy or consulate.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry and departure.

Safety and Security: U.S. citizens should avoid crowds and street demonstrations and maintain a low profile.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up to date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Petty crime is a problem. It is unwise to walk alone at night outside the immediate grounds of hotels. There is a potential for pickpocketing at the central market in Port Louis.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities: Medical facilities are available, but more limited than in the United States. Emergency assistance is limited. While public hospitals and clinics provide free care, many visitors may choose to be treated by private doctors and hospitals. Service Aide Medicale Urgence (SAMU) is a government organization that provides ambulance and emergency assistance in response to calls to 114 (Address: Volcy Pougnet Street, Port Louis). MegaCare is a private organization that provides assistance to subscribers only (Address: 99 Draper Avenue, Quatre Bornes; phone: 116; 464-6116).

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Other Health Information: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's web site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Mauritius is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Availability of Roadside/Ambulance Assistance: Fair

In Mauritius, one drives on the left side of the road. Roads are sometimes narrow and uneven with inadequate lighting. Speed limits are posted in kilometers per hour, but all road and traffic signs are posted in English. Drivers and front-seat passengers are required to wear seat belts. Drivers and passengers on motorcycles are required to wear helmets. Babies and toddlers should be placed in child safety seats.

Drivers involved in an accident are required by law to remain at the scene until the police arrive. However, if an angry crowd gathers and those involved in the accident feel threatened, police and judicial authorities have in the past not taken action against drivers who leave the scene if they have proceeded directly to a police station. While there are organizations that provide emergency or roadside assistance, their resources and capabilities are limited and they are on occasion unable to respond in non-life threatening incidents.

Public transportation by bus is available between the main towns until 11:00 p.m. and in remote areas until 6 p.m. Taxis are also available.

For additional information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Mauritian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority via the Internet at http://www.mauritius.net.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and Mauritius, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Mauritius' Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Mauritius laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Mauritius are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the U.S., for U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens to exploit children sexually via pornography, the Internet or other means or to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a person under the age of 18 in a foreign country, regardless of whether there was intent.

Import Prohibitions: Spearfishing equipment cannot be imported into Mauritius. All warm-blooded animals must undergo a minimum quarantine period of six months.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.

Registration/Embassy Location: U.S. citizens living in or visiting Mauritius are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Mauritius and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Mauritius. Registration forms can be obtained at the U.S. Embassy located at Rogers House (fourth floor) on John F. Kennedy Street in Port Louis, telephone (230) 202-4400; fax (230) 208-9534 or can be downloaded from the Consular section of the U.S. Embassy home page at http://mauritius.usembassy.gov. The Embassy email address is [email protected]

International Adoption

January 2005

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The following is intended as a very general guide to assist U.S. citizens who plan to adopt a child in Mauritius and apply for an immigrant visa for the child to come to the United States. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note: Immigrant visas for adopted Mauritian orphans are issued at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. For more information on scheduling a visa appointment, please see the immigrant visa page on the Web site for the U.S. Embassy in Kenya at http://nairobi.usembassy.gov/wwwhins1.html.

Patterns of Immigration of Adopted Orphans to the U.S.: In the last five fiscal years only one immigrant visa was issued to a Mauritian orphan.

Adoption Authority in Mauritius:
National Adoption Council (NAC)
3rd Floor Govt Centre
Port Louis
Tel: (230) 201 3549; fax: 210 8151
Contact: Mrs. Baccha or Mrs. Clementine

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: adoptive parents must be at least 15 years older than the child. Adoptive parents may be single or married.

Residency Requirements: There are no residency requirements to complete an international adoption in Mauritius.

Time Frame: The approval of the application takes approximately of 60 days, during which time inquiries are made by the NAC. There is an additional 15 days needed to complete court procedures for an adoption. If prospective parents are residing abroad, they may ask to be interviewed by phone, but this is in exceptional cases. Adoptive parents will need to come to Mauritius at the time the adoption is brought before the judge for a decision.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: A lawyer may be needed to expedite matters.

The U.S. Embassy in Port Louis has a list of attorneys that can be made available upon request. Neither the U.S. Embassy nor the Department of State assumes any responsibility for the quality of services provided by these attorneys or their employees.

Prospective adopting parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S.based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adopting parents contact the Better Business Bureau and licensing office of the Department of Health and Family Services in the state where the agency is located.

Adoption Fees in Mauritius: A non-refundable Mauritian Rupees (MRs) 5,000 application fee together with a guarantee fee of MRs 20,000, refundable upon completion of the adoption, must be sent with the application and relative documents to the NAC.

Adoption Procedures: The Mauritian National Adoption Council (see below) does not match adoptable orphans with prospective adoptive parents. Adoptable children are located through personal contacts with families who are unable to care for their child and are willing to give up their child for adoption. Prospective adoptive parents are advised to verify that their Mauritian prospective adoptive child meets the definition of "legal orphan" as defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 101(b)(1)(f). (Please below under "U.S. Immigration Procedures" for more information.)

The application for adoption is filed with the NAC. Once it is approved, the case is brought before a judge. The judge must approve the adoption. Adoptive parents are advised to consider retaining the services of an attorney to handle the judicial proceedings.

Documentary Requirements for the Mauritian Adoption:

  • An application for adoption must be filed at the National Adoption Council (NAC), along with the following documents:
  • 2 photos of the child duly endorsed by a lawyer (the lawyer confirms the photo is a true photo of the child being adopted);
  • Birth certificate of the child;
  • 2 comprehensive medical certificates from two different physicians;
  • Birth certificate of biological parents (if possible);
  • Birth certificate of applicants;
  • Marriage certificate of applicants;
  • A home study from the US (from an adoption services provider in the US);
  • Financial evidence;
  • If applicable, documents of ownership of a house/estate;
  • Report of any criminal record from the US;
  • If the wife is unable to have a child, medical certificate must be submitted;
  • Guarantee that in case of an accident, a third party will take care of child.

Authenticating U.S. Documents To Be Used Abroad: All U.S. documents submitted to the Mauritius government/court must be authenticated. Prospective adopting parents should contact the Secretary of State of the state where documents originated from for instructions and fees for authenticating documents. For additional information about authentication procedures, see the "Judicial Assistance" page of the Bureau of Consular Affairs Web site at http://travel.state.gov.

Mauritian Embassy in the United States: Embassy of the Republic of Mauritius; 4301 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 441; Washington DC 20008; Tel.: (202) 244 1491/1492; Fax: (202) 966-0983; EMAIL: [email protected]

U.S. Embassy in Mauritius: As soon as prospective adopting parents arrive in Mauritius, they should contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in order to register their presence in Mauritius. The Consulate Section is located at: 4th floor, Rogers House; John Kennedy Avenue; Port Louis, Mauritius; Email: [email protected]; Tel:(230)202-4400; Fax:(230)208-9534.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: A child adopted by a U.S. citizen must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the U.S. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details.

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in a particular country may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in that country. General questions regarding international adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-404-4747.

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Mauritius

Mauritius

The Indian Ocean island state of Mauritius, some 965 kilometers (600 miles) east of Madagascar, is 2,045 square kilometers (790 square miles) in area, with an ethnically heterogeneous population of 1.2 million. Hindus account for 52 percent of all Mauritians, with the next largest group, Roman Catholic Creoles of mixed African and European or Asian ancestry, at 27 percent. Muslims make up 16 percent of the population, Chinese about 3 percent, and finally Catholic Franco-Mauritians at 2 percent. English is the official language, but French is the main spoken and written language. Despite the lack of a common culture and religion, relative ethnic collaboration and political stability have existed.

Mauritius is a democratic state based on the Westminster model, with a unicameral parliament elected every five years by universal adult suffrage, and the country has a competitive multiparty system. The main island is divided into twenty three-seat constituencies, and the three candidates with the most votes in each constituency win. Another two seats are allocated to the smaller island of Rodrigues. In addition, upwards of eight additional seats are allocated to so-called best losers, defeated candidates in the multiseat electoral districts, by ethnic and religious affiliation, in order to correct any imbalance in the representation of the various communities. The president is head of state, but constitutional power is vested in a prime minister and cabinet. A six-person Supreme Court is the highest judicial authority. Civil liberties remain fairly secure and the rule of law prevails.

The Mauritian Labour Party (LP) was formed in 1936 and its leader, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam (1900–1985), a Hindu, became the first prime minister of an independent Mauritius in 1968. Soon afterwards Paul Bérenger (b. 1945) helped found the Mouvement Militant Mauricien (MMM). Ramgoolam governed until 1982, when he lost to an alliance of the MMM and a breakaway from the LP formed by Anerood Jugnauth (b. 1930). Jugnauth, who became prime minister, would rule until 1995, forming his own party, the Mouvement Socialist Mauricien (MSM). In 1995 Jugnauth went down to defeat to an LP-MMM alliance, headed by Navin Ramgoolam (b. 1947), the son of Sir Seewoosagur. In mid-1997 the MMM severed its connection with the coalition, leaving Ramgoolam to govern alone.

In the 2000 election the main contenders were two electoral blocs: the ruling LP and its ally, the Parti Mauricien Xavier Duval (PMXD) faced off against an MSM-MMM alliance. Reflecting the ethnic balance of power, both coalitions were led by Hindu politicians. Ramgoolam was challenged by Jugnauth, whereas two Franco-Mauritians, Xavier-Luc Duval of the PMXD and Bérenger of the MMM, played the role of "junior partners."

The MSM-MMM carried fifty-four of the directly elected parliamentary seats. When another eight "best loser" seats were distributed, the MSM-MMM gained four, for a final total of fifty-eight, and the LP-PMXD an additional two, bringing up their number to eight.

The two opposition leaders had agreed that they would take turns as prime minister, with Jugnauth governing until 2003, followed by Bérenger, who thus became the first non-Hindu prime minister.

Tourism, the sugar industry, and manufactured goods from factories are the country's main sources of income. The gross domestic product in 2003 stood at U.S. $5.5 billion, or over $4,484 per capita.

bibliography

Bowman, Larry W. Mauritius: Democracy and Development in the Indian Ocean. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1991.

Dommen, Edward, and Bridget Dommen. Mauritius: An Island of Success. Oxford, UK: James Currey, 1999.

Dubey, Ajay. Government and Politics in Mauritius. Delhi, India: Kalinga Publications, 1997.

Eriksen, Thomas Hylland. Common Denominators: Ethnicity, Nation-Building and Compromise in Mauritius. New York: University Press, 1998.

Jackson, Ashley. War and Empire in Mauritius and the Indian Ocean. London: Palgrave, 2001.

Srebrnik, Henry. "Can an Ethnically-Based Civil Society Succeed? The Case of Mauritius." Journal of Contemporary African Studies 18, no. 1 (2000):7–20.

Srebrnik, Henry. "'Full of Sound and Fury': Three Decades of Parliamentary Politics in Mauritius." Journal of Southern African Studies 28, no. 2 (2002):277–289.

Henry F. Srebrnik

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