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
LOCATION & 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
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,
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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