Mauritius


Mauritius
Mauritian, adj.
/maw rish"euhs, -rish"ee euhs/, n.
1. an island in the Indian Ocean, E of Madagascar. 880,781; 720 sq. mi. (1865 sq. km).
2. a republic consisting of this island and dependencies: formerly a British colony. 1,154,272; 809 sq. mi. (2095 sq. km). Cap.: Port Louis. Formerly, Île de France.

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Mauritius

Introduction Mauritius
Background: Discovered by the Portuguese in 1505, Mauritius was subsequently held by the Dutch, French, and British before independence was attained in 1968. A stable democracy with regular free elections and a positive human rights record, the country has attracted considerable foreign investment and has earned one of Africa's highest per capita incomes. Recent poor weather and declining sugar prices have slowed economic growth leading to some protests over standards of living in the Creole community. Geography Mauritius -
Location: Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar
Geographic coordinates: 20 17 S, 57 33 E
Map references: Political Map of the World
Area: total: 2,040 sq km note: includes Agalega Islands, Cargados Carajos Shoals (Saint Brandon), and Rodrigues water: 10 sq km land: 2,030 sq km
Area - comparative: almost 11 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 177 km
Maritime claims: continental shelf: 200 NM or to the edge of the continental margin territorial sea: 12 NM exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
Climate: tropical, modified by southeast trade winds; warm, dry winter (May to November); hot, wet, humid summer (November to May)
Terrain: small coastal plain rising to discontinuous mountains encircling central plateau
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m highest point: Mont Piton 828 m
Natural resources: arable land, fish
Land use: arable land: 49.26% permanent crops: 2.96% other: 47.78% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 200 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: cyclones (November to April); almost completely surrounded by reefs that may pose maritime hazards Environment - current issues: water pollution, degradation of coral reefs Environment - international party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: the main island, from which the country derives its name, is of volcanic origin and is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs People Mauritius
Population: 1,200,206 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 25.4% (male 153,810; female 150,464) 15-64 years: 68.3% (male 409,028; female 411,070) 65 years and over: 6.3% (male 30,170; female 45,664) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.86% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 16.34 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 6.81 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.92 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.66 male(s)/ female total population: 0.98 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 16.65 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 71.53 years female: 75.58 years (2002 est.) male: 67.54 years
Total fertility rate: 2 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.08% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Mauritian(s) adjective: Mauritian
Ethnic groups: Indo-Mauritian 68%, Creole 27%, Sino-Mauritian 3%, Franco-Mauritian 2%
Religions: Hindu 52%, Christian 28.3% (Roman Catholic 26%, Protestant 2.3%), Muslim 16.6%, other 3.1%
Languages: English (official), Creole, French (official), Hindi, Urdu, Hakka, Bhojpuri
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 82.9% male: 87.1% female: 78.8% (1995 est.) Government Mauritius
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Mauritius conventional short form: Mauritius
Government type: parliamentary democracy
Capital: Port Louis Administrative divisions: 9 districts and 3 dependencies*; Agalega Islands*, Black River, Cargados Carajos Shoals*, Flacq, Grand Port, Moka, Pamplemousses, Plaines Wilhems, Port Louis, Riviere du Rempart, Rodrigues*, Savanne
Independence: 12 March 1968 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 12 March (1968)
Constitution: 12 March 1968; amended 12 March 1992
Legal system: based on French civil law system with elements of English common law in certain areas
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Karl OFFMANN (since 25 February 2002) and Vice President Raouf BUNDHUN (since 25 February 2002) head of government: Prime Minister Sir Anerood JUGNAUTH (since 17 September 2000) and Deputy Prime Minister Paul BERENGER (since 17 September 2000) cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister elections: president and vice president elected by the National Assembly for five-year terms; election last held 25 February 2002 (next to be held NA 2007); prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president, responsible to the National Assembly election results: Karl OFFMANN elected president and Raouf BUNDHUN elected vice president; percent of vote by the National Assembly - NA%
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly (66 seats; 62 elected by popular vote, 4 appointed by the election commission from the losing political parties to give representation to various ethnic minorities; members serve five-year terms) elections: last held on 11 September 2000 (next to be held by September 2005) election results: percent of vote by party - MSM/MMM 52.3%, MLP/PMSD 36.9%, OPR 10.8%; seats by party - MSM/MMM 54, MLP/PMSD 6, OPR 2
Judicial branch: Supreme Court Political parties and leaders: Hizbullah [Cehl Mohamed FAKEEMEEAH]; Mauritian Labor Party or MLP [Navinchandra RAMGOOLAM]; Mauritian Militant Movement or MMM [Paul BERENGER] - in coalition with MSM; Mauritian Militant Renaissance or MMR [Dr. Paramhansa NABABSING]; Mauritian Social Democrat Party or PMSD [Charles Xavier-Luc DUVAL]; Militant Socialist Movement or MSM [Sir Anerood JUGNAUTH] - governing party; Rodrigues Movement or OPR [Joseph (Nicholas) Von MALLY] Political pressure groups and various labor unions
leaders: International organization ACCT, ACP, AfDB, C, CCC, ECA, FAO,
participation: G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, InOC, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, NAM, OAU, OPCW, PCA, SADC, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Usha JEETAH FAX: [1] (202) 966-0983 telephone: [1] (202) 244-1491, 1492 chancery: Suite 441, 4301 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador
US: (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Bisa WILLIAMS embassy: 4th Floor, Rogers House, John Kennedy Street, Port Louis mailing address: international mail: P. O. Box 544, Port Louis; US mail: American Embassy, Port Louis, Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-2450 telephone: [230] 208-2347, 208-2354, 208-9763 through 9767 FAX: [230] 208-9534
Flag description: four equal horizontal bands of red (top), blue, yellow, and green Economy Mauritius -
Economy - overview: Since independence in 1968, Mauritius has developed from a low- income, agriculturally based economy to a middle-income diversified economy with growing industrial, financial, and tourist sectors. For most of the period, annual growth has been in the order of 5% to 6%. This remarkable achievement has been reflected in more equitable income distribution, increased life expectancy, lowered infant mortality, and a much improved infrastructure. Sugarcane is grown on about 90% of the cultivated land area and accounts for 25% of export earnings. The government's development strategy centers on foreign investment. Mauritius has attracted more than 9,000 offshore entities, many aimed at commerce in India and South Africa, and investment in the banking sector alone has reached over $1 billion. Mauritius, with its strong textile sector and responsible fiscal management, was well-poised to take advantage of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
GDP: purchasing power parity - $12.9 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 5.2% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $10,800 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 6% industry: 33% services: 61% (1999 est.) Population below poverty line: 10% (2001 est.) Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Distribution of family income - Gini 0.37 (1987 est.)
index: Inflation rate (consumer prices): 4.2% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 514,000 (1995) Labor force - by occupation: construction and industry 36%, services 24%, agriculture and fishing 14%, trade, restaurants, hotels 16%, transportation and communication 7%, finance 3% (1995)
Unemployment rate: 8.6% (2001 est.)
Budget: revenues: $1.1 billion expenditures: $1.2 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1999 est.)
Industries: food processing (largely sugar milling), textiles, clothing; chemicals, metal products, transport equipment, nonelectrical machinery; tourism Industrial production growth rate: 8% (2000 est.) Electricity - production: 1.285 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 91.05% hydro: 8.95% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 1.195 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: sugarcane, tea, corn, potatoes, bananas, pulses; cattle, goats; fish
Exports: $1.6 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: clothing and textiles, sugar, cut flowers, molasses
Exports - partners: UK 25.8%, France 20.8%, US 16.0%, South Africa 10.9%, Germany, Italy (2000 est.)
Imports: $2 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: manufactured goods, capital equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals (1996)
Imports - partners: South Africa 20.0%, France 19.0%, India 9.0%, Hong Kong 5.2%, UK (2000 est.)
Debt - external: $2.3 billion (2000 est.) Economic aid - recipient: $42 million (1997)
Currency: Mauritian rupee (MUR)
Currency code: MUR
Exchange rates: Mauritian rupees per US dollar - 30.345 (January 2002), 29.129 (2001), 26.250 (2000), 25.186 (1999), 22.993 (1998), 21.057 (1997)
Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June Communications Mauritius Telephones - main lines in use: 245,000 (1998) Telephones - mobile cellular: 60,482 (1998)
Telephone system: general assessment: small system with good service domestic: primarily microwave radio relay international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean); new microwave link to Reunion; HF radiotelephone links to several countries Radio broadcast stations: AM 5, FM 9, shortwave 2 (1998)
Radios: 420,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 2 (plus several repeaters) (1997)
Televisions: 258,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .mu Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 2 (2000)
Internet users: 87,000 (2001) Transportation Mauritius
Railways: 0 km (2002)
Highways: total: 1,860 km paved: 1,786 km (including 36 km of expressways) unpaved: 74 km (2001)
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: Port Louis
Merchant marine: total: 8 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 66,004 GRT/90,017 DWT ships by type: cargo 2, combination bulk 2, container 2, refrigerated cargo 2 note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience:, Belgium 1, India 3, Norway 1, Switzerland 2 (2002 est.)
Airports: 5 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 2 over 3,047 m: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 3 914 to 1,523 m: 1 under 914 m: 2 (2001) Military Mauritius
Military branches: National Police Force (includes the paramilitary Special Mobile Force or SMF and National Coast Guard) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 340,050 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 171,239 (2002 est.)
service: Military expenditures - dollar $9.1 million (FY01)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 0.2% (FY01)
GDP: Transnational Issues Mauritius Disputes - international: Mauritius claims the Chagos Archipelago (UK-administered British Indian Ocean Territory), and its former inhabitants, who reside chiefly in Mauritius, but were granted UK citizenship and the right to repatriation in 2001; claims French-administered Tromelin Island
Illicit drugs: minor consumer and transshipment point for heroin from South Asia; small amounts of cannabis produced and consumed locally

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officially Republic of Mauritius

Island country, lying east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.

The central independent island state of the Mascarene group, it extends 38 mi (61 km) north-south and 29 mi (47 km) east-west. Its outlying territories are Rodrigues Island to the east, the Cargados Carajos Shoals to the northeast, and the Agalega Islands to the north. Area: 788 sq mi (2,040 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 1,211,000. Capital: Port Louis. About three-fifths of the population are either Creole or of French descent, and two-fifths are Indian. Languages: English (official), Creole (lingua franca), various ethnic languages. Religions: Hinduism (one-half the population), Christianity (one-third), Islam. Currency: rupee. Volcanic in origin and almost surrounded by coastal reefs, Mauritius rises to 2,711 ft (826 m) at the Petite Rivière Noire Peak; its chief water source is Lake Vacoas. About half of its land is arable, and sugarcane is the major crop, though the government has sponsored agricultural diversification. The country is heavily dependent on food imports, mainly rice. The population density is one of the highest in the world. The island was visited, but not settled, by the Portuguese in the early 16th century. The Dutch took possession (1598–1710), called it Mauritius after the governor Maurice of Nassau, and attempted to settle it (1638–58, 1664–1710) before abandoning it to pirates. The French East India Company occupied it, renamed it Île de France in 1721, and governed it until the French Ministry of Marine took over its administration in 1767. Sugar planting was the main industry, and the colony prospered. The British captured the island in 1810 and were granted formal control of it under the Treaty of Paris in 1814; the name Mauritius was reinstated, and slavery was abolished. In the late 19th century competition from beet sugar caused an economic decline, compounded by the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. After World War II Mauritius adopted political and economic reforms, and in 1968 it became an independent state within the Commonwealth. In 1992 it became a republic. It experienced political unrest into the beginning of the 21st century.

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▪ 2009

Area:
2,040 sq km (788 sq mi)
Population
(2008 est.): 1,269,000
Capital:
Port Louis
Chief of state:
President Sir Anerood Jugnauth
Head of government:
Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam

      The ongoing court battle between the British government and exiles from Diego Garcia, who had lived for 40 years in Mauritius, continued through much of 2008. Following a series of government appeals to prevent island resettlement, British lawmakers in July argued that the islanders and their descendents should be allowed to return immediately. Some 2,000 residents of the Chagos Islands had been forced to leave the Indian Ocean archipelago, a British protectorate, when the British government brokered a deal with the United States to lease the largest island, Diego Garcia, as an air base. Diego Garcia was used more recently as a base for U.S. military forces engaged in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. The British High Court in 2000 and the Court of Appeals in 2007 had ruled in favour of the Chagossians' right to return, but in October 2008 that ruling was overturned in the House of Lords.

      In a bid to strengthen trade ties with China, the Mauritian government agreed to a $730 million project, the country's largest foreign direct investment, to build a trade-development zone that would house several Chinese businesses. Mauritius's two main economic sectors, sugarcane and textiles, had suffered downturns since the lifting in 2005 of trade preferences, and officials hoped the deal would result in making the country a centre for regional economic development.

Mary Ebeling

▪ 2008

Area:
2,040 sq km (788 sq mi)
Population
(2007 est.): 1,263,000
Capital:
Port Louis
Chief of state:
President Sir Anerood Jugnauth
Head of government:
Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam

      Prompted by a downturn in two key industrial sectors, textiles and sugar production (following price cuts and the imposition of global trade quotas), Mauritius continued in 2007 to bolster its economy through strategic partnerships with several countries and forged trade agreements with China and Pakistan. Trade pacts had been signed in 2005 with India and in 2006 with the U.S. In February 2007 Mauritius was hit by four typhoons that left nine people dead and caused serious disruption to the sugar and textile industries, deepening the financial losses for both industries. The country was recognized for its strong record on human rights, its anticorruption legislation, and its progressive programs on health, education, and poverty when the Ibrahim Index for African Governance ranked Mauritius number one on its index of sub-Saharan countries. Paul Berenger, former prime minister and head of the Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM), became leader of the opposition in the National Assembly in September when Nando Bodha stepped down from the post.

      In mid-May the High Court in London rejected an appeal made by the U.K.'s Foreign Office to block the right of exiled Chagos islanders, or Ilois, to return to the Chagos Archipelago (British-controlled territory but claimed by Mauritius). During the early 1970s the British had removed about 2,000 islanders from Diego Garcia, the largest of the islands, to allow the U.S. to build a military base there.

Mary Ebeling

▪ 2007

Area:
2,040 sq km (788 sq mi)
Population
(2006 est.): 1,255,000
Capital:
Port Louis
Chief of state:
President Sir Anerood Jugnauth
Head of government:
Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam

      In 2006, cemented by a three-day state visit by Indian Pres. Kalam in March, partnership with India was the main focus of Mauritius's economic policy and international affairs. Following the inspection of several Indian-sponsored development projects and after meetings with local scientists and communications experts, a bilateral agreement was signed to expand the Pan-African e-Network project that sought to connect the 53-member African Union to the Internet. Kalam also visited Aapravasi Ghat, the place where tens of thousands of Indian indentured servants entered Mauritius between the 1830s and the 1920s to work on sugar plantations. That migration changed the demography of Mauritius, and almost 70% of the population now claimed Indian ancestry.

      Another event of historical significance was the U.K. high court ruling in May that upheld the case of the members of the Chagos Refugee Group that their families had been illegally removed from the Chagos Archipelago (the British Indian Ocean Territory, but claimed by Mauritius) and should be allowed to return. Under a controversial agreement during the Cold War, the U.K. leased Diego Garcia, the largest of the islands, to the U.S. for use as a military base. In April about 100 former Chagos residents had triumphantly returned to their homeland for a brief visit, their arrival cheered on by thousands of well-wishers in Port Louis, the capital.

LaRay Denzer

▪ 2006

Area:
2,040 sq km (788 sq mi)
Population
(2005 est.): 1,245,000
Capital:
Port Louis
Chief of state:
President Sir Anerood Jugnauth
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Paul Bérenger and, from July 5, Navin Ramgoolam

      In the wake of the massive Indian Ocean tsunami that occurred on Dec. 26, 2004, Mauritius hosted a meeting in early January 2005 of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), a group of 51 small island countries and territories, to address plans for an early-warning system and other economic and social needs. The economies had been worsening in many of the SIDS member countries and territories, including Mauritius, owing to environmental threats, trade barriers, and political instability.

      In April, Prime Minister Paul Bérenger dissolved the parliament and announced new elections for July. The move signaled that pressure had been mounting on Bérenger to address the woes of the once-strong Mauritian economy after massive job cuts in the island's two main industries, textiles and sugar production. Despite efforts to diversify the economy by attempting to make Mauritius a high-tech hub, the economy was hit hard when preferential trade deals on sugar exports and textiles were scrapped in January by the European Union and the U.S. The parliamentary elections held on July 3 resulted in the opposition party Social Alliance's sweeping 38 of 62 seats. Navin Ramgoolam, the son of Mauritius's first postindependence leader, became prime minister.

Mary F.E. Ebeling

▪ 2005

Area:
2,040 sq km (788 sq mi)
Population
(2004 est.): 1,233,000
Capital:
Port Louis
Chief of state:
President Sir Anerood Jugnauth
Head of government:
Prime Minister Paul Bérenger

      The Mauritian government averted economic disaster in 2004 when it settled two lawsuits brought in February by U.S.-based Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., which alleged that a local manufacturer did not have permission to produce and sell clothing under the Polo label. The country's economy relied heavily on the textile manufacturing and retailing industries, which had generated £8 million (about $14.5 million) in revenue and eliminated unemployment. The government brokered an agreement between Ralph Lauren and local outlets.

      A diplomatic row erupted in June with the United Kingdom over the sovereignty of the Chagos Archipelago, or British Indian Ocean Territory, 60 islands 965 km (600 mi) north of Mauritius, and the right of the Ilois—who had been forcibly removed by the U.K. after it bought the islands from Mauritius in 1965—to return. The disputed archipelago included Diego Garcia, an atoll that the British had cleared of all inhabitants to enable the construction of a U.S. naval support base. Prime Minister Paul Bérenger visited London to discuss the dispute with Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon and to visit British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who rebuffed Bérenger. The Group of 90, a coalition of the world's less-developed countries, met in Mauritius to discuss international trade.

Mary F.E. Ebeling

▪ 2004

Area:
2,040 sq km (788 sq mi)
Population
(2003 est.): 1,221,000
Capital:
Port Louis
Chief of state:
Presidents Karl Offmann, Raouf Bundhun (acting) from October 1, and, from October 7, Sir Anerood Jugnauth
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Sir Anerood Jugnauth and, from September 30, Paul Bérenger

      In 2003 the Mauritian government continued to focus on developing the high-tech sector of its economy. The construction of a state-of-the-art business facility, or “Cyber City,” outside the capital received international media attention.

      The government also continued its cooperation with the U.S.-led campaign against international terrorism. In August the parliament passed a bill ratifying a UN convention on the blocking of terrorist assets. In April, however, there were demonstrations by various Muslim groups, students, and political parties against the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

      On September 30 Paul Bérenger, a Mauritian of French descent, was sworn in as the first non-Indian prime minister of Mauritius. For three years Bérenger had served as deputy prime minister and finance minister under Sir Anerood Jugnauth, who had been widely credited with effecting the country's exceptional economic expansion of the 1980s through neoliberal trade policies while serving as prime minister (1982–95 and 2000–03).

      In accordance with the terms of a power-sharing agreement drawn up between Bérenger's Mauritian Militant Movement and Jugnauth's Militant Socialist Movement (MSM) prior to the 2000 parliamentary election, Bérenger succeeded Jugnauth, and the latter was appointed to the largely ceremonial post of president. Jugnauth's son, Pravind Jugnauth, who had replaced his father as the new leader of the MSM in April, became the new deputy prime minister and finance minister.

Andrew Eisenberg

▪ 2003

Area:
2,040 sq km (788 sq mi)
Population
(2002 est.): 1,211,000
Capital:
Port Louis
Chief of state:
Presidents Cassam Uteem, Angidi Chettiar (acting) from February 15, Ariranga Pillay (acting) from February 18, and, from February 25, Karl Offmann
Head of government:
Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth

      On Jan. 21–22, 2002, cyclone Dina skirted Mauritius, causing extensive infrastructure damage estimated at over $50 million. Throughout the year, farmers implored the government for compensation and subsidy aid to help them recover in the wake of the storm.

      In February Mauritius's presidency, a largely ceremonial position, changed hands three times. In a move that surprised and confused many in the government and civilian population, Pres. Cassam Uteem decided to resign rather than approve a controversial antiterrorism bill that would limit the rights of persons accused of terror-related crimes. His successor, Vice Pres. Angidi Chettiar, soon followed suit. On February 19 Supreme Court Chief Justice Ariranga Pillay, the acting president, signed the bill into law. Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth, a staunch supporter of the legislation, continually rejected the claims of Uteem and the opposition in the parliament that the antiterror act could open the door to an abuse of police power. On February 25 the parliament elected Karl Offmann of the Militant Socialist Movement as the new president and Raouf Bundhun as vice president.

      In June Mauritius raised its value-added-tax rate 3% to 15%. According to Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Paul Bérenger, the increase was designed to reduce the national debt and allow for increased spending on education and other aspects of the nation's critical infrastructure.

Andrew Eisenberg

▪ 2002

Area:
2,040 sq km (788 sq mi)
Population
(2001 est.): 1,195,000
Capital:
Port Louis
Chief of state:
President Cassam Uteem
Head of government:
Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth

      Throughout 2001 there were signs of rivalry between Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth of the Mauritian Socialist Movement and Deputy Prime Minister Paul Berenger of the Mauritian Militant Movement. Despite clashes over government appointments and other matters, however, their ruling coalition remained intact.

      Mauritius made a concerted effort during the year to develop a high-technology economy. In January Berenger announced the creation of the Infocom Development Authority to manage growth in the information-technology sector. India agreed to provide Mauritius with a $100 million line of credit for the development of a “cybercity” technology-development centre. A number of Indian software companies also announced that they would invest in the project.

      The Mauritian government offered a variety of tax incentives for Indian businesses to establish export operations on the island. While visiting India, Prime Minister Jugnauth noted that Mauritius had preferential access to the U.S. and European Union markets under, respectively, the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act and the Cotonou Agreement. The country's export earnings remained strong, with the Export Processing Zone increasing 7% over the previous year while the Mauritius Freeport registered 43% growth over a similar period.

Matthew A. Cenzer

▪ 2001

Area:
2,040 sq km (788 sq mi)
Population
(2000 est.): 1,184,000
Capital:
Port Louis
Chief of state:
President Cassam Uteem
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Navin Ramgoolam and, from September 17, Sir Anerood Jugnauth

      On Sept. 11, 2000, Mauritians voted in legislative elections. The Mauritius Labour Party of Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam and its smaller partner, the Mauritian Party of Xavier Duval, faced an opposition alliance of the Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM) and the Mauritian Socialist Movement (MSM). The opposition won a sweeping victory, taking 54 of the 62 legislative seats. Under the opposition parties' agreement, MSM leader Sir Anerood Jugnauth would serve as prime minister for three years, and MMM leader Paul Berenger would then take over for the remaining two years of the government's term. Berenger would be the first prime minister since independence in 1968 who was not from the island's Hindu community. Observers attributed the opposition victory to voter anger over corruption scandals involving Labour Party officials.

      The Mauritian rupee fell against major currencies early in the year, and in September the new government announced measures to halt its decline. The country's trade deficit rose, a fact widely attributed to the weak sugar crop in 1999 and the high oil prices in 2000.

Matthew A. Cenzer

▪ 2000

Area:
2,040 sq km (788 sq mi)
Population
(1999 est.): 1,171,000
Capital:
Port Louis
Chief of state:
President Cassam Uteem
Head of government:
Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam

      In February 1999 three days of rioting rocked Mauritius. Youths from the island's Creole community attacked police stations, freed prisoners, looted businesses, and caused an estimated $150 million in damages. The confrontations began when a popular reggae singer died in police custody after having been arrested on drug charges. Observers reported that the rioting reflected discontent among Creoles who felt left behind by the so-called Mauritian “economic miracle.” The government had difficulty stopping the riots, a fact widely attributed to recent budget and personnel cuts among the police. A prolonged drought led to violent protests over water shortages in November and hurt production of sugar, a crop that dominated the country's agricultural sector.

      Government and business leaders continued to pursue the building of a regional economic and transportation centre. Mauritian companies invested in Mozambique, Namibia, and Seychelles, targeting agriculture, telecommunications, tourism, and light manufacturing. In April the government signed a protection-of-investments agreement with the Czech Republic, and in September Mauritius and Madagascar agreed to reduce customs tariffs by 80%. The country's offshore financial-services sector continued to expand as several South African firms invested in Mauritius. The year also witnessed the completion of a new container terminal at Port Louis.

Matthew A. Cenzer

▪ 1999

      Area: 2,040 sq km (788 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 1,157,000

      Capital: Port Louis

      Chief of state: President Cassam Uteem

      Head of government: Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam

      Throughout 1998 Mauritius pursued bilateral economic agreements with southern African nations. In February Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam visited South Africa, where he and Pres. Nelson Mandela signed a protection-of-investments agreement. In March Ramgoolam announced that Mauritius would join the proposed South Africa-Malaysia underwater cable and thus make Mauritius "a bridge between Asia and Africa." The Bank of Mauritius announced a joint venture with the South African Reserve Bank to implement an electronic payment system modeled on the South African Multiple Option Settlement system.

      In August Mauritius refused to join other members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in sending troops to assist embattled Pres. Laurent Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mauritius was host of the September SADC summit, during which the agenda focused on economic integration and regional insecurity. Prime Minister Ramgoolam urged the adoption of a free-trade agreement. Late in the year the government revised its sales tax and debated reducing the public-sector payroll, measures prompted by fear of inflation and the Asian economic crisis.

MATTHEW A. CENZER

▪ 1998

      Area: 2,040 sq km (788 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 1,143,000

      Capital: Port Louis

      Chief of state: President Cassam Uteem

      Head of government: Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam

      Although the coalition of the Mauritian Labour Party of Navin Ramgoolam and the Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM) of Paul Berenger governed Mauritius for 18 months after the elections of December 1995, the alliance was an uneasy one. On June 21, 1997, after months of conflict the coalition was brought to an end when Prime Minister Ramgoolam dismissed Berenger, who had been the deputy prime minister and the minister of foreign affairs and regional cooperation. Berenger's dismissal was followed by the resignation of seven of the nine MMM members of the Cabinet.

GUY ARNOLD
      This article updates Mauritius.

▪ 1997

      The republic of Mauritius, a member of the Commonwealth, occupies an island in the Indian Ocean about 800 km (500 mi) east of Madagascar and includes the island dependencies of Rodrigues, Agalega, and Cargados Carajos Shoals. Area: 2,040 sq km (788 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 1,141,000. Cap.: Port Louis. Monetary unit: Mauritian rupee, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of Mau Rs 20.65 to U.S. $1 (Mau Rs 32.53 = £ 1 sterling). President in 1996, Cassam Uteem; prime minister, Navin Ramgoolam.

      A major electoral reversal occurred in December 1995 when the opposition alliance of the Mauritius Labour Party and the Mauritian Militant Movement ousted Sir Anerood Jugnauth's Mauritian Socialist Movement, which had led the nation since 1982, and won all 60 seats in the island's 20 constituencies. The Mauritius Labour Party leader, Navin Ramgoolam, became prime minister.

      Social and economic conditions in Mauritius continued to improve. Life expectancy at birth was 70 years, the rate of adult literacy was 81.7%, and per capita gross national product was at $3,030; 100% of the population had access to health services, 99% to safe water, and 99% to sanitation.

      (GUY ARNOLD)

      This article updates Mauritius.

▪ 1996

      The republic of Mauritius, a member of the Commonwealth, occupies an island in the Indian Ocean about 800 km (500 mi) east of Madagascar and includes the island dependencies of Rodrigues, Agalega, and Cargados Carajos Shoals. Area: 2,040 sq km (788 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 1,128,000. Cap.: Port Louis. Monetary unit: Mauritian rupee, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of Mau Rs 17.99 to U.S. $1 (Mau Rs 28.43 = £ 1 sterling). President in 1995, Cassam Uteem; prime ministers, Sir Anerood Jugnauth and, from December 22, Navin Chandra Ramgoolam.

      Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth carried out Cabinet changes at the end of 1994; Ramduthsing Jaddoo, the minister of manpower resources and vocational and technical training, was promoted to become minister of external affairs, and one minister, Mahyendrah Utchanah, was dismissed for corruption, having shown bias in the awarding of a gas contract. The government suffered an election defeat at the end of January 1995 when the Mauritian Militant Renaissance (RMM), one of the coalition partners, lost a seat. In subsequent maneuvering with the next elections in mind, Jugnauth expanded his Cabinet in order to accommodate members of the right-wing Mauritian Social Democratic Party (PMSD), which had joined the coalition. Jugnauth's preparations went for naught, however. In the December 20 elections the opposition alliance led by Navin Ramgoolam and Paul Berenger won nearly two-thirds of the vote and all the seats in the Legislative Assembly, cleanly sweeping Jugnauth's coalition out of power.

      Clothing and textiles became the leading export earners for Mauritius, accounting for more than 52% of all exports. Sugar, the former staple of the economy, was in second place at 28%. (GUY ARNOLD)

      This updates the article Mauritius.

▪ 1995

      The republic of Mauritius, a member of the Commonwealth, occupies an island in the Indian Ocean about 800 km (500 mi) east of Madagascar and includes the island dependencies of Rodrigues, Agalega, and Cargados Carajos Shoals. Area: 2,040 sq km (788 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 1,120,000. Cap.: Port Louis. Monetary unit: Mauritian rupee, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of Mau Rs 17.70 to U.S. $1 (Mau Rs 28.15 = £ 1 sterling). President in 1994, Cassam Uteem; prime minister, Sir Anerood Jugnauth.

      In August 1993 Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth of the Mauritian Socialist Movement dismissed Foreign Minister Paul Berenger, a member of the Mauritian Militant Movement and a partner in the ruling coalition. When Berenger's two remaining supporters resigned their Cabinet posts in November, Jugnauth had to restructure his Cabinet. Early in 1994 Finance Minister Rama Sithanen called for an expansion of the Mauritius stock exchange, which, he claimed, needed to be more dynamic. The stock exchange had been launched in 1988 with five listed companies; by 1994 it had 28, with 4 others waiting to obtain a listing. The initial turnover of $330,000 in 1988 had increased to $1,750,000 in 1993. During that time a total of $63 million had been invested in the Mauritius free zone. The zone, however, still required foreign expertise for improving a number of its operations. A fund was scheduled to be established in October 1994 to assist companies seeking to hire foreign experts in such fields as computer assembly and the manufacture of leather goods. By mid-1994 the stock exchange was enjoying a boom, partly on expectations of a larger-than-predicted sugar crop (the island's main source of foreign exchange), and the index reached a record level of 366.92 points. Mauritius passed the midway point in its three-year development plan, which would cost Mau Rs 19 billion, covering 280 projects and 19 economic sectors. Its total foreign debt of $794 million represented only 25% of the gross national product, while its per capita income of $2,740 put Mauritius well into the World Bank's classification of upper-middle-income countries. (GUY ARNOLD)

      This updates the article Mauritius.

▪ 1994

      The republic of Mauritius, a member of the Commonwealth, occupies an island in the Indian Ocean about 800 km (500 mi) east of Madagascar and includes the island dependencies of Rodrigues, Agalega, and Cargados Carajos Shoals. Area: 2,040 sq km (788 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 1,103,000. Cap.: Port Louis. Monetary unit: Mauritian rupee, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of Mau Rs 17.64 to U.S. $1 (Mau Rs 26.73 = £ 1 sterling). President in 1993, Cassam Uteem; prime minister, Sir Anerood Jugnauth.

      The government predicted a continuing growth rate of 6.5% for 1993 and 1994 following steady growth of the economy in 1992. The economic plan, geared to account for shifts in market forces, relied on three prongs of development growth: sugar, tourism, and the production of textiles in the export-processing zones. The minister of economic planning and development, Swaley Kasenally, stressed that the plan also encompassed such social services as welfare, health, and training.

      In pursuit of its market-economy policies, the government offered citizens interest-free loans to enable them to cash in on the thriving Mauritius stock exchange. Workers could obtain loans of up to Mau Rs 10,000 to buy shares in the government's National Investment Trust, which floated 40 million shares valued at Mau Rs 10 each. Loans would be repaid over a 10-month period. By mid-1993 the economy was showing signs of slowing down, with the rate of growth reduced to a still-healthy 5.2%. This decline was almost entirely due to reduced sugar output; the industry was expected to experience a 5% negative growth rate for 1993. On the other hand, the tourist sector showed a healthy 9% growth rate, as did the water-and-electricity-distribution sector, with a 10% growth rate.

      On August 18 Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth of the Mauritian Socialist Movement dismissed coalition partner Paul Berenger of the Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM) as foreign minister because he claimed that Berenger had constantly criticized the government. An expected political crisis did not follow, however, and Kasenally of the MMM replaced Berenger as foreign minister. (GUY ARNOLD)

      This updates the article Mauritius.

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Introduction
Mauritius, flag of   island country in the Indian Ocean, located off the eastern coast of Africa. Physiographically, it is part of the Mascarene Islands. The capital is Port Louis.

Land
 Mauritius lies about 500 miles (800 km) east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Its outlying territories are Rodrigues Island, situated about 340 miles (550 km) eastward, the Cargados Carajos Shoals, 250 miles (400 km) northeastward, and the Agalega Islands, 580 miles (930 km) northward from the main island. Mauritius also claims sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago (including Diego Garcia), some 1,250 miles (2,000 km) to the northeast, although this claim is disputed by Britain.

Relief and drainage
      The island of Mauritius is volcanic in origin and is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs. The northern part is a plain that rises to a central plateau, varying in elevation from about 900 to 2,400 feet (270 to 730 metres) above sea level. The plateau is bordered by small mountains that may have formed the rim of an ancient volcano; the highest point (2,717 feet [828 metres]) is Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire in the southwest. The two major rivers, the Grand River South East and the Black River, are the primary sources of hydroelectric power. Lake Vacoas, one of the main reservoirs, is the chief source of water.

Soils and climate
      More than half of the country's area is arable, and it is almost entirely planted in sugarcane, the major export crop. Vegetables and tea for local consumption are also grown.

      The climate is maritime subtropical, with fairly uniform temperature throughout the year. Mean temperatures vary from the mid-70s F (low to mid-20s C) at sea level to the upper 60s F (upper 10s C) on the high plateau. Two seasons are recognized: hot (December to April) and cool (June to September). Annual rainfall varies from around 35 inches (900 mm) on the west coast to 60 inches (1,525 mm) on the southeast coast and about 200 inches (5,080 mm) on the central plateau.

Plant and animal life
  The vegetation includes some 600 indigenous species, even though little original forest is left. The fauna includes the samber (a long-tailed, dark brown deer), tenrec (a spiny insectivore), and mongoose, as well as a variety of birds and insects. The island was once home to the dodo, a flightless bird that was extinct by 1681. Efforts began in the late 20th century to save several other species of endemic birds that were close to extinction.

People

Ethnic groups, languages, and religion
      Approximately two-thirds of the population is of Indo-Pakistani origin, most of whom are descendants of indentured labourers brought to work in the sugar industry during the 19th and early 20th centuries. About one-fourth of the population is Creole (of mixed French and African descent), and there are small numbers of people of Chinese and Franco-Mauritian descent.

      Although English (English language) is the official language, it is spoken by a very small percentage of the population. Creole (Mauritian Creole), a French-based patois, is spoken by about four-fifths of the population and is the lingua franca of the country. Bhojpuri, an Indo-Aryan (Indo-Aryan languages) language, is spoken by one-tenth of the population, and French (French language) is spoken by a small percentage. Other languages spoken on the island include Hindi (Hindi language), Chinese (Chinese languages), Marathi (Marāṭhī language), Tamil (Tamil language), Telugu (Telugu language), and Urdu (Urdu language). Mauritians commonly speak two, three, or even more languages, and the educational system supports a wide range of language instruction.

      Religious affiliation varies: about half of the population is Hindu (Hinduism), about one-third Christian (Christianity) (the majority of which are Roman Catholic (Roman Catholicism)), and—with the exception of a small group of Buddhists (Buddhism)—the rest are Muslims (Islām).

Settlement patterns
      The population density in Mauritius is the highest of African countries and is among the highest in the world. Overpopulation became a serious problem after the eradication of falciparum malaria (malaria) by the early 1950s led to a sharp increase in population. Driven by government policy, supported by all the Mauritian religious communities, and assisted by the rapid pace of economic growth, the rate of natural increase dropped rapidly in the last decades of the 20th century, and it is now below the world average. Emigration, primarily to Britain and France, also helped slow the annual growth rate.

      The birth rate remains well below the world average, while the death rate is similar to the world average. Life expectancy—about 70 years for men and more than 75 years for women—is higher than the world average and is well above the average for African countries. About half of the country's population is younger than age 30.

Economy
      Mauritius has a mixed developing economy based on manufactured exports, agriculture, tourism, and financial services. Government efforts to diversify the economy after 1980 have been successful, and the island is no longer as completely dependent on sugar production as it was throughout most of its history. The gross domestic product, among the highest of African countries, grew more rapidly than the population in the 1990s and 2000s.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
 Although the significance of the agricultural sector has diminished with efforts to diversify the economy, it is still important. Sugar production, generating about one-sixth of export earnings, occupies about four-fifths of the total arable land. Tea and tobacco are also cash crops. Subsistence crops include potatoes, tomatoes, and bananas. The livestock population primarily consists of poultry, sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle.

      Forests make up about one-fifth of the total land area of Mauritius. Rapid deforestation occurred during the colonial era, and non-native species were introduced to repopulate the forestland, including the slash pine (Pinus elliottii), which is predominant, Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica), and Moreton Bay pine (Araucaria cunninghamii). Eucalyptus trees and trees that belong to the beefwood (Casuarina (Casuarinaceae)) family are also present. Roundwood is the primary forest product, of which some two-fifths is used for fuel; sawn wood is also produced. Mauritius is unique among countries in the region in that it consumes more wood products than it produces and must import the difference.

 Technical assistance from Japan and India is regenerating the fishing industry, which has grown in importance. Mauritius's waters contain many species of fish with commercial value, including tuna, snapper, and grouper. Aquaculture is practiced with such species as channel bass and sea bream.

Resources, power, and manufacturing
      Mauritius has few viable mineral resources. Basalt and lime are mined. Electricity is largely generated from imported petroleum, with a small percentage derived from hydropower. Sugar plantations often use bagasse—the fibre that remains from sugarcane after sugar-bearing juice is extracted—as fuel to produce electricity.

      There has been a steady increase in manufacturing since the 1970s. The Mauritius Export Processing Zone, which concentrates on labour-intensive processing of imported raw materials or semifinished goods for the export market, has successfully attracted foreign investment. Economically important manufactures include textiles, food processing, metal and metal products, and chemical products.

Finance and trade
      Mauritius is home to many financial institutions, including a development bank, offshore banking facilities, and several commercial banks. The Bank of Mauritius is the central bank and issues the country's currency, the Mauritian rupee. The country's stock exchange is located in Port Louis.

      Imports, largely of machinery and transport equipment, petroleum, and foodstuffs, outweigh exports of clothing and textiles, sugar, and fish and fish products. Much of Mauritius's exports go to the European Union market; important trading partners include the United Kingdom, France, the United States, and China.

Services, labour, and taxation
      Significant growth in tourism since the 1970s has made it a major earner of foreign exchange. Information and communication technology is becoming increasing important. In 2001 the government created the Information and Communication Technologies Authority to promote and oversee the burgeoning sector.

      More than two-fifths of the labour force is employed in the areas of finance and services. Construction and manufacturing employ about one-third of the labour force, and about one-tenth is employed in the agricultural sector.

      Taxation is an important source of funding in Mauritius, accounting for about nine-tenths of the government's revenue. About half of the total tax revenue is derived from taxes on goods and services. Trade taxes account for about one-fifth; corporate income tax, about one-eighth.

Transportation and telecommunications
      Mauritius has a strong transportation infrastructure. The road system is well developed and in good repair, and almost all roadways are paved. Most of the country's shipping activity is conducted through port facilities at Port Louis, which has been cultivated as a free port to encourage its development as an international shipping hub. An international airport is located at Plaisance, and there are other airports located throughout the country. Air Mauritius, the national carrier, flies many international routes. The island does not have any rail service.

      The country's telecommunications sector is well developed and among the best in the region. There has been rapid progress in this area owing to the country's growing information and communication technology industry. About three-fourths of the population has mobile phone service, and one-fourth has internet service.

Government and society

Constitutional framework
      Mauritius became independent on March 12, 1968. Under the constitution adopted that year, the country was a constitutional monarchy with the British monarch as head of state. In 1991 a constitutional amendment was passed providing for a republican form of government, with a president as head of state; the amendment went into effect in 1992. Legislative power is vested in a National Assembly, elected every five years and consisting of 62 elected members and up to an additional 8 members drawn from the pool of candidates who were not elected but who may be appointed to broaden representation among minorities or underrepresented parties. Executive power is exercised by a Council of Ministers headed by a prime minister (appointed by the president), who assembles a government from members of the National Assembly. The president and vice president are elected by the National Assembly for a term of five years.

Local government and justice
      For administrative purposes, the island of Mauritius is divided into districts. The outlying territories of Agalega, Cargados Carajos Shoals, and Rodrigues Island each have dependency status.

      The Supreme Court is the highest judicial authority and includes courts of civil appeal and criminal appeal. There are also district courts.

Political process and security
      The constitution provides for universal suffrage for citizens 18 years and older. The political process in Mauritius is open to participation by minorities and women. Minority representation is enhanced by the policy of appointing additional members to the National Assembly to achieve ethnic balance. Although women have held legislative seats and cabinet positions, their numbers have been few.

      There are many political parties, but three large parties dominate Mauritian politics: the Mauritius Labour Party (MLP), the Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM), and the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM). The MLP and the MSM generally compete for the dominant Hindu vote, although they both have supporters in all communities. The MMM has its base in the minorities—the Creoles, Muslims, and non-Hindi-speaking Indian communities (especially the Tamils and Telegus)—although it too has prominent Hindu supporters. Coalitions among parties are frequent.

      Mauritius does not maintain an active military force, although it does have a small paramilitary force that includes a coast guard unit. Despite some unrest, the country has, on the whole, seen political success: Since independence, Mauritius, unlike most African former colonies, has sustained an open, free, democratic, and highly competitive political system. Elections have been held on a regular basis with the losing parties giving way to the winners. Its limited military structure has meant that it has been spared the difficulty of military coups.

Health, welfare, and housing
      Since independence Mauritius has developed a substantial social welfare system that provides free basic health services to the entire population. Care is provided through a network of hospitals, dispensaries, family-planning facilities, and social welfare centres. Old age pensions, family allowances, and other measures for social protection are also provided. Overcrowding is prevalent in urban areas, and the government provides loans to local authorities for urban housing schemes.

Education
      Education is compulsory between ages 5 and 16. Six years of primary education begins at age 5, which is followed by up to seven years of secondary education. Primary and secondary education are free. The University of Mauritius (1965) has faculties of agriculture, engineering, law and management, science, and social studies and humanities. Other institutions of higher education include the University of Technology, Mauritius (2000). Some students attend universities in India, France, and the United Kingdom. More than four-fifths of the population is literate.

Cultural life
      Mauritius offers a rich mixture of the many cultures and traditions of its different peoples. The ethnic and religious diversity of Mauritius also means that there are many holidays and festivals scheduled throughout the year, including the Hindu festivals of Maha Shivaratree (see Mahā-śivarātrī) in February and March and Divali (Diwali) in late October and November; the Muslim festival of Īd al-Fiṭrʿ, marking the end of Ramadan (Ramaḍān); the Catholic observances in honour of Père Laval in September, All Saints' Day in November, and Christmas in December; the lively Chinese Spring Festival (Lunar New Year) celebration; and the Tamil holiday of Thaipoosam Cavadee, usually held in January or February, which includes fire-walking ceremonies. The entire country observes Abolition of Slavery Day on February 1, Republic Day on March 12, Labour Day on May 1, and Arrival of Indentured Laborers Day on November 2.

The arts and cultural institutions
      Interest in arts and letters and the sciences is promoted by voluntary associations, and the island has produced talented poets and novelists. Perhaps the best-known local writer is Dev Virahsawmy, a poet and playwright. Though he writes easily in both French and English, Virahsawmy is most renowned for his efforts to popularize the use of Creole. In addition to his own plays and poetry, he has also translated several of Shakespeare's plays into Creole, which have been performed in Mauritius.

 Mauritius is known for the séga, a popular folk dance consisting of suggestive movements of the hips and arms to a rhythmic beat. The dance can be traced back to the 18th century, when it was performed by slaves.

      Representational and abstract painting flourish, and there are art galleries in the major towns. The major national cultural institutions are the Palace Theatre in Rose Hill, the Port Louis Theatre, the Mauritius Institute, which includes a natural history museum and a historical museum, and the Mauritius Archives. There are both public and institutional libraries.

 Also of cultural interest is Aapravasi Ghat, in Port Louis, (Port Louis) and Le Morne Cultural Landscape, located on a peninsula on the southwest side of the island; both have been designated UNESCO World Heritage sites (World Heritage site). Aapravasi Ghat was used as an immigration depot from 1849–1923 for indentured labourers arriving from India. Le Morne Cultural Landscape, comprising Le Morne Mountain and most of its foothills, was a place of refuge during the 18th and early 19th centuries for many escaped slaves, known as maroons. Another area of cultural significance is Grand Bassin Lake, where Hindus bring offerings during the Maha Shivaratree festival.

Sports and recreation
      There is a very active sporting culture in Mauritius. Football (football (soccer)) (soccer), introduced by the British, claims the greatest number of participants and fans. At the highest level there is a national team that competes in the African Cup of Nations tournament. Locally, fans follow the teams in a football league that has been around for decades. The small Franco-Mauritian community avidly supports a highly organized and rather ritualized season of deer hunting. Mauritians from all communities make winter horse racing one of the most popular and highly attended sporting activities of the year. Individual Mauritians have competed at the highest international levels in both bridge and backgammon.

      Since its independence, Mauritius has actively participated in both regional and international sporting events. The Indian Ocean Island Games have been hosted in Mauritius, as have international tournaments for boxing, judo, and women's volleyball. Mauritius made its Olympic debut at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

      Areas of recreational interest include Black River Gorges National Park, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens, Trou aux Cerfs (an extinct volcano that is now heavily forested), and the island's numerous beaches and casinos.

Media and publishing
      The Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation transmits foreign radio and television broadcasts and also locally produced radio and television programs. Daily news service is provided in French, English, and Creole; additional programming takes place in a variety of other languages. School broadcasting constitutes an important part of the service. Most Mauritian households also receive French television programs from the French-governed island of Réunion. The press operates freely, and there are numerous daily and weekly publications in English, French, Chinese, and other languages.

History

Early history and colonial administration
      Mauritius was long uninhabited, though it was probably known to Arab seafarers from the 10th century or earlier. It was visited by the Portuguese in the early 16th century, but they did not settle the island. The Dutch took possession of it from 1598 to 1710, called it Mauritius for the stadhouder (governor) Maurice of Nassau, and attempted to settle the island in 1638–58 and again in 1664–1710; abandoning their attempts, they left it to pirates. In 1721 the French East India Company occupied Mauritius, which was renamed Île de France. Settlement proceeded slowly over the next 40 years. In 1767 the French crown took over the island's administration from the French East India Company. The French authorities brought African slaves to the island and established sugar planting as the main industry, and the colony prospered. At the beginning of the 19th century, when England (British Empire) and France were at war, privateers based on Île de France were a continual threat to British and Indian merchant vessels. In 1810 the British captured the island, and, upon restoration of peace in 1814, British sovereignty was confirmed by the Treaty of Paris. The name Mauritius was reinstated, but, in circumstances quite unique for a British colony, the customs, laws, and language remained French.

      Pressure generated by the British abolitionist movement ended slavery there in 1835, and slaves were replaced by indentured labourers from India. The country's modern-day Indo-Pakistani population stems from this program of replacing slavery with indentured servitude (deemed Britain's “Great Experiment”); by the time it ended in the 1920s, almost a half million indentured labourers had come from India to work on the sugar plantations. Mauritius prospered in the 1850s, but competition from beet sugar caused a decline. The malaria epidemic of 1866–68 drove shipping away from Port Louis, which further declined after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. During World War I, when sugar prices rose, the economy prospered, but the Great Depression of the 1930s changed the situation drastically, culminating in labour unrest in 1937. World War II did not improve the Mauritian economy, and after 1945 economic reforms were introduced. Political and administrative reforms were also initiated, which led to independence.

Independence
      Mauritius became an independent state within the Commonwealth on March 12, 1968, with a governor-general on the island representing the British monarch as the head of state. In the first years of independence, Mauritius attempted to diversify its economy beyond the production of sugar but made limited progress. The combined effects, however, of Cyclone Claudette in late 1979, falling world sugar prices in the early 1980s, and political protest and social unrest generated by those who saw no economic future on the island led the government to initiate a vigorous and highly successful program of economic diversification. In 1991 the legislature voted to transition to a republican form of government, and on March 12, 1992, Mauritius became a republic, with a president as head of state.

      As Mauritius approached the new millennium, the problems facing the country remained, for the most part, economic in nature. The poorer people in Mauritius—largely Creoles—did not share in the fruits of economic development in the late 20th century. This led to two large and unexpected outbursts of rioting and social unrest in 1999, the first real domestic disturbances since independence. Unemployment rose at the beginning of the 21st century, in part because of the detrimental effects of international trade on textile and sugar manufacturing. The government responded by focusing the country's economic strategies on the development of more lucrative sectors—information technology and business and financial services.

Larry Wells Bowman Ed.

Additional Reading

Geography
R.J. Harrison Church et al., Africa and the Islands, 4th ed. (1977), is a geographical study that includes Mauritius. Written by the American consul on Mauritius for five years, Nicolas Pike, Sub-Tropical Rambles in the Land of the Aphanapteryx (1873, reprinted 1972), although old, is perhaps the finest book ever on Mauritius, with great detail on both human and natural history. Robert Scott, Limuria: The Lesser Dependencies of Mauritius (1961, reprinted 1976), recounts the history, natural and otherwise, of St. Brandon (Cargados Carajos Shoals), Agalega, and the Chagos Archipelago. Carol Wright, Mauritius (1974), is a general study. Gerald Durrell, Golden Bats and Pink Pigeons (1977, reissued 2003), is a fine story of the natural history of Mauritius by an esteemed naturalist. Rosabelle Boswell, Le Malaise Créole: Ethnic Identity in Mauritius (2006); and William F.S. Miles, “The Mauritius Enigma,” Journal of Democracy, 10(2):91–104 (April 1999), and “The Creole Malaise in Mauritius,” African Affairs, 98(391):211–228 (April 1999), examine the state of society and politics. Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Profile: Mauritius (annual), provides up-to-date information on the economy, resources, and industry. A travel guide that provides a general overview of Mauritius is Tom Masters, Jan Dodd, and Jean-Bernard Carillet, Mauritius, Réunion & Seychelles, 6th ed. (2007), a Lonely Planet guidebook.

History
Megan Vaughan, Creating the Creole Island: Slavery in Eighteenth-Century Mauritius (2005), details the development of the slave trade in Mauritius and the subsequent formation of a Creole society. Vijaya Teelock, Bitter Sugar: Sugar and Slavery in 19th Century Mauritius (1998), is a powerful study by a Mauritian historian on the final decades of slavery there. Larry W. Bowman, Mauritius: Democracy and Development in the Indian Ocean (1991), gives an overview of Mauritian history, society and culture, politics and government, economy, and international relations. Adele Smith Simmons, Modern Mauritius: The Politics of Decolonization (1982), is the best general political history of Mauritius up to independence.Larry Wells Bowman Ed.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • 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 …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Mauritius [1] — Mauritius (früher Isle de France), engl. Insel im Indischen Ozean, eine der Maskarenen (s. d.), 880 km östlich von Madagaskar, 19°58 –20°32 südl. Br. u. 57°17 –57°46 östl. L., 1914 qkm groß, wird mit Ausnahme von zwei bis drei steilen… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Mauritius — Mauritius. Die Insel Mauritius (Französ. Isle de France) im Indischen Ozean, 880 km östlich Madagaskar, 130 km nordöstlich Réunion gelegen, seit 1815 britisch, 1847 km2 umfassend mit rd. 371.000 Einwohnern, hat in den Jahren 1862–1865 eine… …   Enzyklopädie des Eisenbahnwesens

  • Mauritius — prop. n. 1. A country on the island of Mauritius. [WordNet 1.5] 2. An island in the Indian Ocean. Syn: Ile de France. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Mauritius [1] — Mauritius, britische Insel aus der Gruppe Maskarenhas (Ostafrika); 32 QM., wegen Korallenriffen wenig zugänglich, hat in der Mitte ein Hochplateau (1400 Fuß) mit steilem Gipfel (Piter Boot, Pieterbot, 3000 Fuß) u. den (sumpfigen) Quellen der… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Mauritius [2] — Mauritius, 1) geb. 539, von römischen Eltern aus Arabissos in Kappadocien stammend; wurde Soldat, unter dem orientalischen Kaiser Tiberius Befehlshaber einer Legion, zeichnete sich im Persischen Kriege aus u. wurde 582 als Flavius Tiberius M.… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Mauritius [2] — Mauritius, Heiliger, Anführer der Thebaischen Legion (s. d.), Patron des Erzstiftes Magdeburg, von Koburg, Lauenburg, auch von Savoyen und Mantua sowie der Infanterie, hilft gegen Podagra. Dargestellt wird er als Mohr oder als Ritter mit der… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Mauritius — Mauritĭus, frz. Isle de France, brit. Maskareneninsel, im Ind. Ozean, 880 km östl. von Madagaskar, 1826 qkm, (1901) 373.336 E., mit Dependenzen (Rodriguez, Nazarethinseln, Tschagosinseln u.a.) 2121 qkm, 378.195 E.; gebirgig (in der Montagne de la …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Mauritius [2] — Mauritĭus, oström. Kaiser (582 602), geb. 539 in Kappadozien, Schwiegersohn und Nachfolger Tiberius II., 23 Nov. 602 durch Phokas gestürzt und 27. Nov. ermordet …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Mauritius [3] — Mauritĭus, Heiliger, s. Thebäische Legion …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon


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