Republic of Mauritius

President: Rajkeswur Purryag (2012)

Prime Minister: Navin Ramgoolam (2005)

Land area: 714 sq mi (1,849 sq km); total area: 788 sq mi (2,040 sq km)

Population (2009 est.): 1,284,264 (growth rate: 0.7%); birth rate: 14.4/1000; infant mortality rate: 12.2/1000; life expectancy: 74.0; density per sq km: 621

Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Port Louis, 577,200 (metro. area), 143,800 (city proper)

Monetary unit: Mauritian rupee

Current government officials

Languages: English less than 1% (official), Creole 81%, Bojpoori 12%, French 3% (2000)

Ethnicity/race: Indo-Mauritian 68%, Creole 27%, Sino-Mauritian 3%, Franco-Mauritian 2%

Religions: Hindu 48%, Roman Catholic 24%, other Christian 8%, Islam 17% (2000)

National Holiday: Independence Day, March 12

Literacy rate: 86% (2003 est.)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2007 est.): $14.06 billion; per capita $ $11,200 . Real growth rate: 4.6%. Inflation: 8.8%. Unemployment: 8.8%. Arable land: 49%. Agriculture: sugarcane, tea, corn, potatoes, bananas, pulses; cattle, goats; fish. Labor force: 552,700; construction and industry 30%, services 25%, agriculture and fishing 9%, trade, restaurants, hotels 22%, transportation and communication 7%, finance 6% (2007). Industries: food processing (largely sugar milling), textiles, clothing, chemicals, metal products, transport equipment, nonelectrical machinery, tourism. Natural resources: arable land, fish. Exports: $2.475 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.): clothing and textiles, sugar, cut flowers, molasses. Imports: $3.627 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.): manufactured goods, capital equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals. Major trading partners: UK, UAE, France, U.S., Madagascar, South Africa, China, India (2006).

Member of Commonwealth of Nations

Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 357,300 (2006); mobile cellular: 772,400 (2006). Radio broadcast stations: AM 4, FM 9, shortwave 0 (2002). Radios: 420,000 (1997). Television broadcast stations: 2 (plus several repeaters) (1997). Televisions: 258,000 (1997). Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 9,792 (2007). Internet users: 182,000 (2006).

Transportation: Railways: 0 km. Highways: total: 2,020 km; paved: 2,020 km (including 75 km of expressways) (2005). Ports and harbors: Port Louis. Airports: 5 (2007).

International disputes: 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.

Major sources and definitions

Flag of Mauritius

Geography | Government | History


Mauritius is a mountainous island in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar.


Parliamentary democracy within the British Commonwealth.


After a brief Dutch settlement, French immigrants who came in 1715 named the island Île de France and established the first road and harbor infrastructure, as well as the sugar industry, under the leadership of Gov. Mahe de Labourdonnais. Blacks from Africa and Madagascar came as slaves to work in the sugarcane fields. In 1810, the British captured the island and in 1814, by the Treaty of Paris, it was ceded to Great Britain along with its dependencies.

Indian immigration, which followed the abolition of slavery in 1835, rapidly changed the fabric of Mauritian society, and the country flourished with the increased cultivation of sugarcane. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 heralded the decline of Mauritius as a port of call for ships rounding the southern tip of Africa, bound for South and East Asia. The economic instability of the price of sugar, the main crop, in the first half of the 20th century brought civil unrest, then economic, administrative, and political reforms. Mauritius became independent on March 12, 1968.

Agricultural Diversification

The effects of Cyclone Claudette in 1979 and of falling world sugar prices in the early 1980s led the government to initiate a vigorous program of agricultural diversification and develop the processing of imported goods for the export market. The country formally broke ties with the British Crown in March 1992, becoming a republic within the Commonwealth.

In addition to sugarcane, textile production and tourism are the leading industries. Primary education is free, and Mauritius boasts one of the highest literacy rates in sub-Saharan Africa.

With a complicated ethnic mix—about 30% of the population is of African descent and the remainder is mostly of Indian descent, both Hindu and Muslim—political allegiances are organized according to class and ethnicity.

Presidential Elections

In Feb. 2002, Mauritius went through four presidents in succession. Two resigned within days of each other, each after refusing to sign a controversial anti-terrorism law that severely curtailed the rights of suspects. The law, supported by the prime minister, was ultimately signed by a third, interim president. At the end of February, a fourth president, Karl Offman, was elected by parliament.

In Oct. 2003, Paul Berenger, a white Mauritian of French ancestry, became the first non-Hindu prime minister in the history of Mauritius. Berenger and the previous prime minister, Anerood Jugnauth, formed a coalition during Sept. 2000 elections. Under their agreement, Jugnauth served as prime minister for three years and Berenger assumed the prime ministership for the remaining two years of the term. Jugnauth then became president in 2003, and in July 2005, Navin Ramgoolam, prime minister from 1995 to 2000, again assumed that office.

President Jugnauth Resigns

On March 30, 2012, President Anerood Jugnauth resigned. He cited his disagreement with new government policies and programs as well as a lack of accord with other members of the government. Recently, he had a very public conflict with Prime Minister Ramgoolam. Earlier in March, the tension between the two men erupted when a new opposition alliance, to be led by Jugnauth, was announced. Ramgoolam asked for Jugnauth's resignation if news of the new alliance was true. "I'm not in agreement with the philosophy of the government and the way the country is run," Jugnauth said to the local media while announcing his resignation. Vice President Monique Ohsan Bellepeau was named acting president.

Mauritius National Assembly elected Rajkeswur Purryag as president. He was sworn in on July 21, 2012.

See also Encyclopedia: Mauritius.
U.S. State Dept. Country Notes: Mauritius
Central Statistical Office .

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