Mauritius is is an island located in the Indian Ocean, approximately 2,000 km from the south-eastern coast of mainland Africa. It consists of Mauritius, Rodrigues and its outer islands ( St. Brandon, Agaléga as well as two disputed territories). Mauritius and Rodrigues are part of the group of Mascarene Islands (172 km to the southwest), along with Reunion, which is a nearby French overseas territory. The area of the country covers 2,040 km2. Port Louis is the national capital as well as the largest city of Mauritius. Mauritius was a British colonial possession from 1810 until 1968, the year of independence. English is used as the main language by the government.
During the Middle Ages, the Arabs visited Mauritius followed by the Portuguese, who named the island Dina Arobi and Cirne. The island remained uninhabited until the Dutch Republic established a colony there in 1638. The Dutch gave it the name Prince Maurice van Nassau. In 1710, the Dutch colony has been abandoned and then 5 years later, it became a French colony and was given the name Isle de France. Because of its strategic location, Mauritius was called the “star and key” of the Indian Ocean.
Before the opening of the Suez Canal, Mauritius became a major trading base for the trade routes from Europe to the East and was caught up in this long war of power between the French and the British. While the French won at the Battle of Grand Port, which was their only naval victory against the British during these wars, there was nothing they could do to prevent the British from landing at Cap Malheureux only three months later. They officially surrendered on the fifth day of the invasion, 3 December 1810, on terms that allowed the settlers to retain their land and property, the use of the French language and French law in criminal and civil matters. Under British rule, the island became the empire’s most important sugar colony. In the twentieth century, movements began to organise to improve labour laws and introduce political reforms, a process that accelerated after the Second World War. The island became an independent country after the adoption of a new constitution that took effect on 12 March 1968. From 1992, Mauritius is a Republic of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Chagos Islands sovereignty is under dispute between the Mauritius and the United Kingdom. The UK cut off the archipelago from Mauritian territory in 1965, three years before Mauritius became independent. The United Kingdom progressively depopulated the archipelago’s native population and also leased its largest island, Diego Garcia, from the US. The archipelago is closed to casual tourists, media and its former inhabitants. Mauritius also claims French sovereignty over Tromelin Island.
The inhabitants of Mauritius are multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-lingual. The island’s government is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system of government, and Mauritius enjoys a high position not only in terms of economic and political freedom, but also in terms of democracy. In common to the other Mascarene islands, Mauritius is well known for the diversity of its flora and fauna, where many species are considered to be endemic to the island. The island is widely known as the only known habitat of the dodo, which disappeared along with several other bird species relatively soon after human settlement on the island. Mauritius is is the only African country in which Hinduism is the main 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.