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Ministry of Tourism>Tourism sector>Overview of Mauritius

Overview of Mauritius


 

Overview of Mauritius

 
General Information
 
Population - 1.3 million
Area - 2,040 sq km(788 sq miles)
Languages spoken - English (official), Creole, French, Indian languages
Main religions - Hinduism, Christianity, Islam
Life expectancy - 70 years (men), 77 years (women)
Currency - Mauritian Rupee (MUR)
Gross Domestic Product – approx. USD 12 billion
GDP Per Capita – approx. USD 10,000
 
 
For a timeline of key events in Mauritius, please access the following link:
 
 
 
Mauritius, an island nation located on the east of Madagascar off the southeast coast of Africa, gained independence on 12 March 1968. A democratic country, politically stable with free elections held every 5 years, the country has a diversified economic base and boasts one of Africa's highest per capita income. Mauritius is divided into ten districts and three dependencies, and its capital is Port Louis. Its official language is English, and its currency is the Mauritian rupee (MUR).
 
History
 
It was another Portuguese sailor, Don Pedro Mascarenhas, who gave the name Mascarenes to the group of islands now known as Mauritius, Rodrigues and Réunion. The Portuguese did not settle permanently on these islands.
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Dutch period (1598-1710)
 
In 1598, a Dutch squadron, under the orders of Admiral Wybrand Van Warwyck, landed at Grand Port and named the island Mauritius, in honour of Prince Maurice Van Nassau, "Stathouder" of Holland.
 
However, it was not until 1638 that a first attempt was made at Dutch settlement. It was from here that the famous Dutch navigator Tasman set out to discover the Western part of Australia. The Dutch are remembered for the introduction of sugarcane, domestic animals and deer. They left Mauritius in 1710.

The French period (1715-1810)
 
After the Portuguese and the Dutch, the French took an interest in Mauritius. By 1715, they had started to settle on a permanent basis on the island which they renamed Isle de France. French governor François Mahé de La Bourdonnais established Port Louis as a naval base and a shipbuilding centre. Under his governorship, numerous buildings were put up, a number of which are still standing to-day - part of Government House, the Château de Mon Plaisir at Pamplemousses and the Line Barracks The island was under the administration of the French East India Company which maintained its presence until 1767.
 
From that year until 1810, it was in charge of officials appointed by the French Government, except for a brief period during the French Revolution, when the inhabitants set up a government virtually independent of France.
 
During the Napoleonic wars, Isle de France had become a base from which French corsairs organised raids on British commercial ships. The raids continued until 1810 when a strong British expedition was sent to capture the island. A preliminary British attack was foiled at Grand Port in August 1810 but the expedition launched in December of the same year from Rodrigues, which had been captured a year earlier, was successful. The British landed in large numbers in the North of the island and rapidly overpowered the French, who capitulated. By the Treaty of Paris in 1814, Isle de France which regained its former name of `Mauritius' was ceded definitely to Great Britain, together with its dependencies which included Rodrigues and the Seychelles. In the Act of Capitulation, the British guaranteed that they would respect the language, the customs, the laws and the traditions of the French settlers.
 
The British period (1810-1968)
 
The British administration, which began with Robert Farquhar as Governor, was marked by rapid social and economic changes. One of the most important events was the abolition of slavery in 1835. The planters received a compensation for the loss of their slaves who had been brought in from Africa and Madagascar during the French occupation.
 
The abolition of slavery had important repercussions on the socio-economic and demographic fields. The planters turned to India, from where they brought a large number of indentured labourers to work in the sugar cane fields. The Indian immigrants, who were of both Hindu and Muslim faiths, were to change rapidly the fabric of the society. They were later joined by a small number of Chinese traders.
 
Cultivation of sugar cane was given a boost and the island flourished, especially with the export of sugar to England. Economic progress necessitated the extension and improvement of communications and infrastructure.
 
Constitutional development
 
On the Constitutional plane, the Council of Government which was first established in 1825, was enlarged in 1886 to make room for elected representatives. The new Council included 10 members elected on a restricted franchise. It was not until 1933 that the Constitution was significantly amended. The proportion of nominated members of the Council not holding public office was raised to two-thirds. However, franchise was still restricted to persons within a certain income bracket and to property owners. A major breakthrough occurred in 1948, when after years of protracted negotiations for a more liberal Constitution, franchise was extended to all adults who could pass a simple literacy test.
 
The Council of Government was replaced by a Legislative Council composed of 19 elected members, 12 members nominated by the Governor and three ex-officio members. General elections were held in August 1948 and the first Legislative Council met on 1st September 1948.
 
Following Constitutional conferences held in London in 1955 and 1957, the ministerial system was introduced and general elections were held on 9th March 1959. Voting took place for the first time on the basis of universal adult suffrage and the number of electors rose to 208,684. In 1961, a Constitutional Review Conference was held in London and a programme of further Constitutional advance was established. It was followed in 1965 by the last Constitutional Conference which paved the way for Mauritius to achieve independence. After general elections in 1967, Mauritius adopted a new Constitution and independence was proclaimed on 12 March 1968 under the leadership of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, the first Prime Minister of Mauritius. The island achieved the status of Republic 24 years later on 12 March 1992.
 
 
Economy
 
Since independence, Mauritius has developed from a low-income, mono crop sugar-based economy to an upper middle-income, diversified economy resting on agro industry, export-oriented manufacturing, tourism, financial services and ICT services. Over this period, annual growth ranged in the order of 5% to 6%. This remarkable achievement has been reflected in more equitable income distribution, increased life expectancy, lower infant mortality, high literacy rate and a much-improved infrastructure.
 
GDP in Mauritius expanded 2.50 percent in the second quarter of 2016 over the same quarter of the previous year. GDP Annual Growth Rate in Mauritius averaged 3.82 percent from 2001 until 2016, reaching an all-time high of 9.80 percent in the first quarter of 2003 and a record low of -0.80 percent in the first quarter of 2005.
 
 
Latest national account figures released by Statistics Mauritius estimate the GDP growth rate for 2016 to be at 3.9 percent. The forecasted growth rate is an improvement over the 3.4 percent expansion in the Mauritian economy last year.
One of the highest drivers of growth is the tourism sector which is projected to grow by 8.6 percent with increases in tourist arrivals.
 
 
Political Context
 
Mauritius is a stable and multiparty parliamentary democracy, modeled on the British Parliamentary System; which guarantees the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers. The President is the Head of state and the Prime Minister is the Head of the Government with full executive powers. The legislative elections held in December 2014 were won by the Alliance Lepep, a coalition comprising the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM), the Mauritian Social Democrat Party (PMSD) and the Liberation Movement. The coalition secured a comfortable parliamentary majority (now 53 out of 69 seats) with the MSM founder, Sir Anerood Jugnauth, becoming Prime Minister. The legal System is a hybrid one drawing from both French Napoleon Code and English law.
 
 
Culture
 
Beneath the natural beauties of Mauritius's landscape, lies another gem: Mauritian Cultures. A diverse range of different customs and traditions coexist in Mauritius, originating from the different cultures of people from Europe, India, China and Africa who, during the last 400 years, have settled on these shores.
 
In Mauritius, Churches can be found next to a Mosque, Indian temples next to Chinese pagodas. Various religious festivals are celebrated with much fervour and devotion all year round by different communities.
 
Another manifestation of the rich diversity of Mauritian culture is its exotic cuisine, which is a fusion of European, Indian and Chinese flavours. Music is also a living tribute to the variety and depth of Mauritian culture, illustrated through beautiful sophisticated Indian music and dance, the Chinese spectacular lion dance and the rhythm of the Sega, the most traditional folkloric music of Mauritius.

 
Geography and Climate
 
Mauritius, an island covering 1,865 square kilometres is situated some 2,000 kilometres off the south east coast of Africa. More than 150 kilometres of white sandy beaches and transparent lagoons are protected from the open sea by the world’s third largest coral reef which almost surrounds the island.
 
Being of volcanic origin, Mauritius has a central plateau which is about 400 metres above the sea level. Mountains scattered throughout the island, fast flowing rivers, tropical forests and plants are other features that add to the natural beauty of the island. Mauritius enjoys a maritime sub-tropical climate. The summer season lasts from October to May with temperatures averaging 27°C, while in the winter months temperatures average 22°C. The topography of Mauritius makes the central plateau more humid and cooler that the other regions.
 
 
Social Evolution
 
Mauritius has successfully translated economic growth into concrete poverty reduction and improvements in human development. Its poverty rates remain low by international standards, with less than 1% of the population estimated as living on less than $1 a day.
 
Independent Mauritius inherited a system of free education and health services. The government, as part of its strategy of nation building, avoided social and political tensions and supported solidarity and equity by investing in these social services, as well as a non-contributory basic retirement pension and an extensive set of social security schemes. Since then, it has expanded these services, with the aim of expanding opportunities for its population and ensuring inclusive growth.
 

Health
 
Life expectancy at birth increased from 61 overall in 1965 to 70 for men and 77 for women to date. Along with the Seychelles, Mauritius has the lowest under-five child mortality rate on the sub-continent (17 deaths out of 1,000 live births) and the highest rate of children immunised against measles.
 
The largest contributor to mortality in Mauritius is currently non-communicable diseases including cancer and diabetes. The Government is developing specific strategies and sensitization campaigns with a view to reducing the incidence of such illnesses.
 
 
 
Population and Demography
 
 
The population of the Island is approximately 1,300,000, made up principally of people of Indian, European, African and Chinese origin. Mauritius takes pride in the fact that these different cultures co-exist in peace and succeed in creating a cultural entity that is distinctly Mauritian.
 
Mauritius is the most densely populated country in Africa due to its small size, and is also one of the most densely populated countries in the world.
 
 
 
Wildlife
 
Mauritius was the home of the dodo, an extinct species of flightless large bird. Conservation systems are now well enforced, but only nine of a known 25 species of indigenous birds remain, including the Mauritius kestrel and the pink pigeon. The Rodrigues fruit bat or golden bat was in danger of becoming extinct until recently; the Mauritius fruit bat is more common. Javanese deer, introduced by the Dutch for food, are found mainly in the uplands and the ravines, and protected by hunting restrictions. There are 12 species of lizards, four of non-poisonous snakes and 2,000 of insects and butterflies. Three of the butterflies – the citrus, ficus and sailor – are unique to the islands. Marine fauna is very rich.
 
 
 
 
International Benchmarks 
 
 
No
Index
Global Rank
Africa Rank
1
World Bank Doing Business 2017
49 out of 190 countries[U1] 
1st
2
Logistics Performance Index 2014
115 out of 160 countries
18th
3
Global Competitiveness Index 2016 - 2017
45 out of 138 countries
1st
4
Corruption Perceptions Index 2015
(Transparency International)
45 out of 168 countries
5th
5
International Property Rights Index 2016
34 out of 128 countries
3rd
6
Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance 2016
-
1st
7
Press Freedom Index 2016
(Reporters without Borders)
61 out 0f 180 countries
8th
8
The A.T. Kearney Global Services Location Index, 2016
30 out of 50 countries
3rd
9
2016 Index of Economic Freedom
(Heritage Foundation)
15 out of 170 countries
1st
10
Economic Freedom of the World 2016
(Fraser Institute)
5 out of 159 countries
1st
11
Human Development Index 2015
63 out of 188 countries
1st
12
Democracy Index 2015 -
Economist Intelligence Unit
Full Democracy
18 out of 167 countries
1st
13
Knowledge Economy Index 2012
62 out of 145 countries
1st
14
Global Enabling Trade Report 2014
29 out of 138 countries
1st
15
Environmental Performance Index 2016
77 out of 180 countries
1st
16
Mercer’s 2016 Quality of Living Survey
83 out of 230 countries
1st
17
E-government development Index 2016
58 out of 193 countries
1st
18
Global Information Technology Report 2016
49 out of 139 countries
1st
19
ITU – United Nations Agency for Information and communications.
ITU’s Digital Access Index 2012
74 out of 155 countries
2nd
20
Forbes Survey of Best Countries for Business 2015
37 out of 144 countries
1st
21
Social Progress Index 2016
40 out of 133 countries
1st