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Mauritius

Mauritius Map and Basic Facts

Location:
Mauritius lies in Southern Africa; it's an island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar

Islands of Mauritius:
Mauritius is made up of the main island as well as the Agalega Islands, Cargados Carajos Shoals (Saint Brandon), and Rodrigues.

Geography:
Mauritius is 2,040 sq km, almost 11 times the size of Washington DC in the US. The island's terrain consists of small coastal plain rising to discontinuous mountains encircling a central plateau. The Mauritian climate is tropical, modified by southeast trade winds. Mauritius has a warm, dry winter (May to November) and a hot, wet, humid summer (November to May). The lowest point of Mauritius lies at the Indian Ocean (sea level); its highest point is Mont Piton at 828 m. Mauritius is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs.

Population:
Just over 1.2 million people live in Mauritius. Life expectancy is around 73 years. Birth rate is on average 1.95 children per woman. Literacy rate is just over 85%.

Languages:
Creole 80.5%, Bhojpuri 12.1%, French 3.4%, English (official but spoken by less than 1% of the population), and other 3.7% (2000 census).

Ethnic Groups:
Indo-Mauritian 68%, Creole 27%, Sino-Mauritian 3%, and Franco-Mauritian 2%.

Religion:
Hindu 48%, Roman Catholic 23.6%, other Christian 8.6%, Muslim 16.6%, and other 2.5% (2000 census).

Political History:
Although known to Arab and Malay sailors as early as the 10th century, Mauritius was first explored by the Portuguese in 1505; it 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.

Economic 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 expanding local financial institutions and building a domestic information telecommunications industry. 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, has been well poised to take advantage of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Source: CIA World Factbook

Further Reading:
Mauritius Travel Guide
How to Get a Cheap Flight to Africa
South Africa Travel Guide
Namibia Travel Guide
Zambia Travel Guide

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