OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Mauritius
CAPITAL: Port Louis
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Multiparty Republic
AREA: 1,974 Sq Km (762 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 1,201,400


Direct Link to Political MapDirect Link to Physical MapLOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Mauritius is an island located in the southern Indian Ocean around 800 km (497 mi) off Madagascar. The territory also includes the islands of Agalega, Rodrigues and the St. Brandon group. The island is of volcanic origin and has a central broad plateau sloping to a coastal plain in the north. Mauritius has an indented coastline with many natural harbors and is nearly encircled by a coral reef. There are also three mountain ranges, Moka, Grande Port and Black River Mountains. Rodrigues is also composed of basalt and is mountainous with a central region that divides the island from southeast to northwest. The principal rivers are the Grand River South East and the Grand River North West, additionally, some lakes have formed in the volcanic craters. Major Cities (pop. est.); Port Louis 142,900, Beau Bassin 94,300, Vacoas Phoenix 92,100, Curepipe 74,700 (1992). Land Use; forested 28%, pastures 4%, agricultural-cultivated 52%, other 16% (1992).


CLIMATE: Mauritius has a tropical maritime climate with the SE trade winds prevailing from April to November. Devastating tropical cyclones occur from November to March and rainfall is at its heaviest during this period. Humidity increases while temperature decreases with altitude. Average annual precipitation varies from 850 mm (33 inches) in the northwest to 5,000 mm (196 inches) on the central plateau. Average temperature ranges are from 17 to 24 degrees Celsius (63 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit) in August to 23 to 33 degrees Celsius (73 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit) in January.


PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are Indo-Mauritians who account for 67% of the population while Sino-Mauritians account for 3.5%, Creoles for 29% and .5% are mixed Europeans.


DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 533 persons per sq km (1,379 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 40.7% urban, 59.3% rural (1990). Sex Distribution; 49.7% male, 50.3% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth; 65.0 years male, 73.0 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 30% under 15, 29% 15 to 29, 22% 30 to 44, 11% 45 to 59, 6% 60 to 74, 2% 75 and over (1990). Birth Rate; 21.0 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 6.5 per 1,000 (1990). Increase Rate; 14.5 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 23.0 per 1,000 live births (1991).


RELIGIONS: Around 53% of the population are Hindus while 13% are Muslims and 31% are Christians, of which Roman Catholics represent 26%. Other religious minorities include Buddhists, Confucianists, Baha'is and Ahmadiyyahs.


LANGUAGES: The official language is English, although a Creole Patois is the national language spoken by over 52% of the population with Hindi, Urdu and Tamil also widely spoken.


EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling 24.2%, incomplete primary 28.1%, primary 23.2%, incomplete secondary 13.1%, secondary 7.7%, higher 3.6% (1983). Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 81.8% (1983).


MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: Mauritius began to achieve self-government from Britain in the late 1950's and gained complete independence in March 1968. From 1968 to 1982 the Labor Party led by Prime Minister Seewoosagur Ramgoolam controlled the government and in the early 1970's the left wing Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM) led by Paul Berenger gained popularity. In 1971, amid growing unrest and strikes the government declared a State of Emergency and in Aug. 1971 arrested the MMM's leaders to prevent disruptions occurring when Queen Elizabeth II visited in Mar. 1973. In 1982 Aneerood Jugnauth became Prime Minister and in Apr. 1983 he broke from the MMM and formed a new party called the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM). The party formed an alliance with two other political parties creating the Alliance Party which won elections in Aug. 1983. In Dec. 1983 Mauritius became a republic within the Commonwealth and in Dec. 1985 four Alliance Party members were arrested at Amsterdam Airport for carrying heroin. In 1988 and 1989 attempts were made by drug cartels to assassinate Jugnauth and in Sept. 1991 Jugnauth heading a coalition government was re-elected. On Dec. 10, 1991 legislation was approved for Mauritius to become a republic in March 1992. On March 12, 1992 Mauritius officially became a republic within the Commonwealth with the Governor-General, Sir Veerasamy Ringadoo becoming the interim President. On June 30, 1992 the National Assembly elected Cassam Uteem as President. Also in 1992 the Indian government committed MauRs 200 million to a India-Mauritius Fune to assist in trade links and joint ventures between the two countries. In 1993 the government announced interest free loans to citizens of up to MauRs 10,000 to be paid back over 10 months for the acquisition of shares in the National Investment Trust which was floated on the Mauritius stock exchange. On Aug. 18, 1993 Prime Minister Jugnauth, due to continuing criticisms of the government, dismissed his MMM coalition partner and foreign minister Paul Berenger who was succeeded by another MMM member, Swaley Kasenally.


CURRENCY: The official currency is the Rupee (MauRs) divided into 100 Cents.


ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $3,309,000,000 (1993). Public Debt; USD $884,000,000 (1993). Imports; MauRs 30,319,000,000 (1993). Exports; MauRs 22,992,000,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $301,000,000 (1993). Balance of Trade; USD -$254,200,000 (1993). Economically Active Population; 478,100 or 43.9% of total population (1992). Unemployed; 7.9% (1992).


MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners include the USA, the UK and other EU countries.

MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Fish, Potatoes, Sugar Cane, Tea, Tobacco.

MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Clothing, Diamond Cutting, Electronic Equipment, Fertilizers, Fisheries, Molasses, Rum Distilling, Sugar Processing, Textiles, Tourism.

MAIN EXPORTS: Canned Tuna, Clothing, Jewelry, Molasses, Rum, Sugar, Tea, Textile Yarns and Fabrics.


TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; length 1,801 km (1,119 mi) (1989). Vehicles; cars 27,697 (1989), trucks and buses 1,858 (1989). Merchant Marine; vessels 36 (1990), deadweight tonnage 141,307 (1990). Air Transport; passenger-km 1,466,877,000 (911,475,000 passenger-mi) (1990), cargo ton-km 182,270,000 (124,837,000 short ton-mi) (1990).


COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 7 with a total circulation for 6 of 96,000 (1995). Radio; receivers 380,000 (1994). Television; receivers 156,850 (1994). Telephones; units 106,900 (1993).


MILITARY: 1,300 (1993) total mobile police personnel while military expenditure accounts for 0.4% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).


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