Mauritius is an island republic in the Indian Ocean around 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) from the African continent’s southeast coast. The country consists of Mauritius, Rodrigues (560 kilometers (350 miles) east, and the outlying islands (Agaléga, St. Brandon, and two disputed areas). The Mascarene Islands include Mauritius and Rodrigues (172 km (107 mi) southwest), as well as neighboring Réunion, a French overseas department. The nation has a total area of 2,040 km2. Port Louis is the country’s capital and major city. Mauritius was a British colonial property from 1810 until its independence in 1968. The official language of the government is English.
During the Middle Ages, the island of Mauritius was visited by the Arabs and subsequently by the Portuguese, who dubbed it Dina Arobi and Cirne, respectively. The island was deserted until the Dutch Republic founded a colony there in 1638, named it after Prince Maurice van Nassau. The Dutch colony was abandoned in 1710, and the island became a French colony five years later, and was renamed Isle de France. Mauritius was regarded as the “star and key” of the Indian Ocean due to its strategic location.
Prior to the construction of the Suez Canal, Mauritius became a major stop on the commercial routes from Europe to the East, and it was embroiled in the lengthy power struggle between the French and the British. The French won the Battle of Grand Port, their sole naval win over the British throughout these conflicts, but they were unable to prevent the British from landing three months later at Cap Malheureux. On the fifth day of the invasion, 3 December 1810, they publicly surrendered on conditions that allowed inhabitants to maintain their land and property, the use of the French language, and the application of French law in criminal and civil affairs. The island became the Empire’s primary sugar-producing colony during British control. Movements to modify labor laws and implement political reforms began to organize in the twentieth century, a trend that intensified after World War II. Following the ratification of a new constitution, the country gained independence on March 12, 1968. Mauritius became a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations in 1992.
Mauritius and the United Kingdom dispute control over the Chagos Archipelago (UK). The archipelago was removed from Mauritian sovereignty by the United Kingdom in 1965, three years before Mauritian independence. The UK steadily depopulated the archipelago’s indigenous inhabitants and leased the archipelago’s largest island, Diego Garcia, to the US. The archipelago is off-limits to casual tourists, the media, and previous residents. Mauritius also claims French control over Tromelin Island.
Mauritius’ population are multiethnic, multireligious, multicultural, and multilingual. The island’s government is based on the Westminster parliamentary system, and Mauritius ranks well in terms of democracy as well as economic and political freedom. Mauritius, like the other Mascarene Islands, is noted for its diverse flora and fauna, with many species indigenous to the island. The island is well-known for being the sole known habitat of the dodo, which, along with numerous other bird species, was wiped off by human activity not long after the island’s colonization. Mauritius is the only African country where Hinduism is the dominant religion.
Tourism on Mauritius
Mauritius is a major tourist destination, ranked 3rd in the region and 56th in the world. The island has a tropical climate with warm, clear seawater, lovely beaches, tropical flora and fauna, complemented with a multi-ethnic as well as cultural population. These tourism assets are its main strength, especially as they are supported by well-designed and managed hotels and reliable and functioning services and infrastructure.
In January 2012, Mauritius was awarded “World Leading Island Destination” as well as “World’s Best Beach” at the World Travel Awards for the 3rd time.
Problems often faced by foreign tourists include fraud, inflated prices and double pricing.
Demographics on Mauritius
The estimated permanent population of the Republic of Mauritius as at 1 July 2014 was 1,261,208. With a female population of 637,032 and a male population of 624,176, Mauritius has a population of 1,219,265, Rodrigues had a population of 41,669 and Agalega and Saint Brandon had an estimated population of 274. Mauritius is the most densely inhabited country of Africa.
Ethnic groups on Mauritius
Official statistics on ethnicity are not available as such questions were removed from the 1972 census. Mauritius is a multi-ethnic society composed of Indian, African, European (mostly French) and Chinese origin.
Religion on Mauritius
From the 2011 census which was carried out by Statistics Mauritius, the largest religion is Hinduism (48.5%), which is followed by Christianity (32.7%), and Islam (17.3%) while Buddhism made up ( 0.4%). Those belonging to other religions accounted for 0.2% of the population, while the non-religious accounted for 0.7%. Finally, 0.1% refused to fill in any data. Mauritius are the only nation amongst those in Africa which have a Hindu majority.
Being an officially secular state, Mauritius remains a religiously diverse nation in which freedom of religion is established as a constitutional right. The vibrant and colourful culture of the Mauritian people is reflected in the various religious festivals celebrated throughout the year, some of which are recognised as public holidays.
Geography of Mauritius
The total area of the country is 2,040 km2, which is about 80% the size of Luxembourg, the 180th largest nation in the world by size. The Republic of Mauritius is composed of the main island of Mauritius and several offshore islands. Rodrigues is the 2nd largest island with a surface area of 108 km2 and is situated 560 km east of Mauritius, while its twin island, the Agalega, covers a total area of 2,600 hectares and is situated approximately 1,000 km north of Mauritius. Saint Brandon is an archipelago consisting of a series of sandbanks, shoals and islets. It lies about 430 km northeast of Mauritius and is mainly used as a fishing base. The nation’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) covers about 2.3 million km2 of the Indian Ocean, of which about 400,000 km2 are jointly administered with the Seychelles.
Mauritius is located approximately 2,000 km (1,242 miles) from the southeast coast of Africa, which is between latitudes 19°58.8′ and 20°31.7′ on the South and longitudes 57°18.0′ and 57°46.5′ on the East. This island is 45 km wide and 65 km long. More than 150 km (93 miles) of beautiful white and sandy beaches surrounding the island, while the lagoons are protected from the open sea with the world’s 3rd largest coral reef that surrounds the island. There are some 49 uninhabited islands and islets off the Mauritian coast, of which some serve as natural reserves to preserve endangered species.
The island of Mauritius is relatively young in geological terms, having been formed by volcanic activity about 8 million years ago. Together with Saint Brandon, Réunion and Rodrigues, the island belongs to the Mascarene Islands. The islands were formed as a result of gigantic underwater volcanic explosions that happened thousands of km on the east of the African-Madagascar continental block. They are no longer volcanically active and the hotspot now rests beneath Reunion Island. Surrounded by mountain ranges varying in altitude from 300 to 800 metres above sea level, Mauritius is a land of great natural beauty. The land rises from the coastal plains to a central plateau where it reaches an altitude of 670 m; the highest peak is in the southwest, Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire at 828 m. Streams and rivers line the island, many of them formed in the cracks created by lava flows.
Economy of Mauritius
In the years after independence in 1968, Mauritius moved from a low-income to a diversified middle-income economy. Mauritius’s economy relies on tourism, manufacturing, textiles, sugar production as well as financial services. In recent years, information and communication technology, seafood, hotels and real estate development, health care, renewable energy, education and training have become important sectors attracting significant investment from local and foreign investors.
Mauritius does not have exploitable natural resources and therefore depends on imported petroleum products to meet most of its energy needs. Local and renewable sources of energy include biomass, hydro, solar and wind power. The island of Mauritius possesses one of the world’ s largest exclusive economic areas, in 2012, the Mauritian government announced it intends to increase the marine economy.
Mauritius is ranked very highly for its economic competitiveness, investment climate, governance and free economy. In 2014,(GDP) is estimated at US$22.025 billion and GDP (PPP) per capita was more than US$16,820, which is one of the largest in Africa.
Mauritius has an upper-middle income economy, according to the World Bank 2011. In the World Bank’s 2016 Ease of Doing Business Report, Mauritius ranks 49th out of 189 economies in the world in terms of ease of doing business.
Mauritius is a successful free market economy. According to the Economic Freedom Index 2013, Mauritius is ranked as the 8th freest economy in the world and has the highest score for freedom of investment.