Mauritius Explained

Conventional Long Name:Republic of Mauritius
Common Name:Mauritius
National Motto:"Stella Clavisque Maris Indici"(Latin)
"Star and Key of the Indian Ocean"
National Anthem:"Motherland"
Official Languages:English[1] [2]
Capital:Port Louis
Languages Type:Vernacular
Languages:Mauritian Creole
French
English
Rodriguan Creole
Demonym:Mauritian
Latd:20
Latm:10
Latns:S
Longd:57
Longm:31
Longew:E
Largest City And Capital:Port Louis
Government Type:Parliamentary republic
Leader Title1:Acting President
Leader Name1:Monique Ohsan Bellepeau
Leader Title2:Prime Minister
Leader Name2:Navinchandra Ramgoolam
Legislature:Parliament
Cabinet:Cabinet of Ministers
Ptr-MSM-PMSD
Lower House:National Assembly
Sovereignty Type:Independence
Established Event1:from the United Kingdom
Established Date1:12 March 1968
Established Event2:Republic
Established Date2:12 March 1992
Area Rank:179th
Area Magnitude:1 E9
Area Km2:2,040
Area Sq Mi:787
Percent Water:0.07M
Population Estimate:1,286,340
Population Estimate Rank:151st
Population Estimate Year:2011
Population Census:1,179,137
Population Census Year:2000
Population Density Km2:630
Population Density Sq Mi:1,636.5
Population Density Rank:18th
Gdp Ppp:$19.008 billion[3]
Gdp Ppp Year:2011
Gdp Ppp Per Capita:$14,746
Gdp Nominal:$10.299 billion
Gdp Nominal Year:2011
Gdp Nominal Per Capita:$7,989
Hdi: 0.701[4]
Hdi Rank:77th
Hdi Year:2011
Hdi Category:high
Currency:Mauritian rupee
Currency Code:MUR
Country Code:230
Time Zone:MUT
Utc Offset:+4
Time Zone Dst:(DST not observed)[5]
Date Format:dd/mm/yyyy (AD)
Drives On:left
Cctld:.mu
Calling Code:230
Free Label 1:Dependencies
Free 1:Rodrigues, Agalega Islands

Mauritius (Mauritian Creole: Moris; French: Maurice,), officially the Republic of Mauritius (Mauritian Creole: Republik Moris; French: République de Maurice) is an island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about 870km east of Madagascar. In addition to the island of Mauritius, the Republic includes the islands of Cargados Carajos, Rodrigues and the Agalega Islands. Mauritius Island is part of the Mascarene Islands, with the French island of Réunion 170km to the southwest and the island of Rodrigues 570km to the east. The area of Mauritius is 2040 km2; its capital city is Port Louis.

The United Kingdom took control of the islands in 1810, from France during the Napoleonic Wars, and Mauritius became independent from the UK in 1968. It is a parliamentary republic and is a member of the Southern African Development Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the African Union, La Francophonie and the Commonwealth of Nations. Mauritius has an upper middle income economy.

The main languages spoken in Mauritius are Mauritian Creole, French and English. English is the only official language but the lingua franca is Mauritian Creole and the newspapers and television programmes are usually in French. Asian languages also form part of the linguistic mosaic.[1] The country's populace is composed of several ethnicities, including Indian, African, Chinese and French. The first European explorers found no indigenous people living on the island.

The island of Mauritius was the only home of the dodo (Raphus cucullatus). This bird was easy prey to settlers because of its weight and inability to fly, and became extinct fewer than eighty years after the initial European colonization.[6]

Etymology

The island gets its name from Dutch settlers who came in 1598. They gave it the Latinized name "Mauritius" in honour of the Dutch prince, Maurice of Nassau.

History

See main article: History of Mauritius. The island of Mauritius was unknown and uninhabited before its first recorded visit, by Arab sailors during the Middle Ages who named it Dina Arobi. In 1507 Portuguese sailors visited the uninhabited island and established a visiting base. Portuguese navigator Diogo Fernandes Pereira was probably the first European to land on the island at around 1511. The island appears with a Portuguese name 'Cirne' on early Portuguese maps, probably because of the presence of the dodo, a flightless bird which was found in great numbers at that time. Another Portuguese sailor, Dom Pedro Mascarenhas, gave the name Mascarenes to the group of islands now known as Mauritius, Rodrigues and Réunion. The Portuguese did not stay long as they were not interested in these islands.

Dutch period

In 1598 a Dutch squadron under Admiral Wybrand Van Warwyck landed at Grand Port and named the island "Mauritius", in honour of Prince Maurits van Nassau, stadtholder of the Dutch Republic. However, it was not until 1638 that there was a first attempt of Dutch settlement. It was from here that Dutch navigator Abel Tasman set out to discover the western part of Australia. The first Dutch settlement lasted only twenty years. Several attempts were subsequently made, but the settlements never developed enough to produce dividends and the Dutch abandoned Mauritius in 1710. They are remembered for the introduction of sugar-cane, domestic animals, and deer.

French period

France, which already controlled neighboring Île Bourbon (now Réunion), took control of Mauritius in 1715 and later renamed it Île de France (literally, Island of France). The 1735 arrival of French governor Mahé de La Bourdonnais coincided with development of a prosperous economy based on sugar production. Mahé de La Bourdonnais established Port Louis as a naval base and a shipbuilding centre. Under his governorship, numerous buildings were erected, a number of which are still standing today - part of Government House, the Chateau de Mon Plaisir at Pamplemousses, and the Line Barracks. The island was under the administration of the French East India Company which maintained its presence until 1767.

From 1767 to 1810, except for a brief period during the French Revolution when the inhabitants set up a government virtually independent of France, the island was controlled by officials appointed by the French government. In particular Charles Mathieu Isidore Decaen a successful general in the French Revolutionary Wars and in some ways a rival of Napoleon, ruled as Governor General of Mauritius and Réunion from 1803 to 1810. British naval cartographer and explorer Matthew Flinders was arrested and detained by Decaen on the island for most of this period, in contravention of an order from Napoleon. During this period, the Napoleonic wars, Île de France became a base from which French corsairs organised successful raids on British commercial ships. The raids continued until 1810 when a strong Royal Navy expedition led by Commodore Josias Rowley was sent to capture the island. Despite winning the Battle of Grand Port, the only French naval victory over the British during these wars, the French surrendered to a British invasion at Cap Malheureux three months later. They formally surrendered on 3 December 1810, on terms allowing settlers to keep their land and property and to use the French language and law of France in criminal and civil matters. Under British rule, the island's name reverted to Mauritius.

British period

The British administration, which began with Robert Farquhar as governor, was followed by rapid social and economic changes. Slavery was abolished in 1835. The planters received two million pounds sterling in compensation for the loss of their slaves who had been imported from Africa and Madagascar during the French occupation. The abolition of slavery had important repercussions on the socio-economic and demographic fields. The planters turned to India, bringing in a large number of indentured labourers to work in the sugar cane fields. Between 1834 and 1921, around half a million indentured labourers were present on the island. They worked on sugar estates, factories, in transport and construction sites. Additionally, the British brought 8740 Indian soldiers to the islands.

Indians mainly originated from Calcutta, Madras and Bombay. The first group arrived in 1721 from Bengal and Pondicherry. Most were Bengali or Tamil. Port-Louis was divided into three sectors, with the Indian community in the eastern suburb of ‘Camp de Malabar’. A great number of Hindus from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were brought as indentured labourers. There was also massive immigration from Madagascar, Southern and Eastern Africa, Mozambique and Comoros. Chinese immigrants who were in commerce also arrived later and the colony was transformed into a predominantly Asiatic population. The expanding marketing sector also attracted many traders from North India.

As the Indian population became numerically dominant and the voting franchise was extended, political power shifted from the Franco-Mauritian and their Creole allies to the Indo-Mauritian. Cultivation of sugar cane flourished, for export of sugar to England. Economic progress saw improvement of the means of communication and a gradual upgrading of infrastructure.

Following constitutional conferences held in London in 1955 and 1957, the ministerial system was introduced and general elections were held on 9 March 1959. Voting took place for the first time on the basis of universal adult suffrage and the number of electors rose to 208,684. A Constitutional Review Conference was held in London in 1961 and a programme of further constitutional advance was established. The last constitutional conference, held in 1965, paved the way for Mauritius to achieve independence. After general elections in 1967, Mauritius adopted a new constitution and independence was proclaimed on 12 March 1968. Mauritius became a republic on 12 March 1992.

Politics

See main article: Politics of Mauritius. Politics of Mauritius takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, in which the President is the head of state and the prime minister is the head of government who is assisted by a council of Ministers . Mauritius has a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The absolute power is split between two positions: the President and the Prime Minister.

Parliament

See main article: National Assembly of Mauritius. The National Assembly is Mauritius's unicameral parliament, which was called the Legislative Assembly until 1992, when the country became a republic. It consists of 70 members, 62 elected for four-year terms in multi-member constituencies and 8 additional members, known as "best losers", appointed by the Supreme Court to ensure that ethnic and religious minorities are equitably represented. The president is elected for a five-year term by the parliament. The Assembly is made up of 70 members, of whom 62 are directly elected in 21 constituencies. The island of Mauritius is divided into 20 constituencies returning three members each and that of Rodrigues is a single constituency returning two members. After a general election, the Electoral Supervisory Commission may nominate up to a maximum of 8 additional members in accordance with section 5 of the First Schedule of the Constitution with a view to correct any imbalance in community representation in Parliament. This system of nominating members is commonly called the best loser system.

The political party or party alliance which wins the majority of seats in Parliament forms the government and its leader usually becomes the Prime Minister. It is the Prime Minister who selects the members of the composition of the Cabinet from elected members of the Assembly, except for the Attorney General, who may not be an elected member of the Assembly. The political party or alliance which has the second largest majority forms the Official Opposition and its leader is normally nominated by the President of the Republic as the Leader of the Opposition. The Assembly elects a Speaker, a Deputy Speaker and a Deputy Chairman of Committees as some of its first business.

A new electoral system is actually being proposed by the government of Mauritius.

Government

Mauritius is a democracy with a Government elected every five years. The latest general election was held on 5 May 2010 in all the 20 mainland constituencies, as well as the constituency covering the island of Rodrigues. Historically, elections have tended to be a contest between two major coalitions of parties.

According to the 2011 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which measures governance using a number of different variables, Mauritius' government earned the highest rank for "Safety and Rule of Law" and "Sustainable Economic Opportunity" as well as earning the highest score in the index overall. Mauritius came second in "Participation and Human Rights" and "Human Development".[7]

Office HeldOffice HolderIncumbency
PresidentAnerood Jugnauth7 October 2003
Vice PresidentMonique Ohsan Bellepeau13 November 2010
Prime MinisterNavin Ramgoolam5 July 2005
Deputy Prime MinisterRashid Beebeejaun7 July 2005
Vice Prime MinisterXavier Luc Duval5 July 2005
Vice Prime MinisterAnil Bachoo7 August 2011
Senior Minister
Sheila Bappoo7 July 2005
Leader of the OppositionPaul Raymond Berenger7 July 2005

Law

Mauritius has a functioning legal system based on elements of British common law and French civil law.[8] Crime rate reduced from 4.3 per 1,000 population in 2009 to 3.6 per 1,000 population in 2010.[9]

Foreign relations

See main article: Foreign relations of Mauritius. Mauritius has strong and friendly relations with the West, as well as with India and the countries of southern and eastern Africa. It is a member of the World Trade Organization, the Commonwealth of Nations, La Francophonie, the African Union, the Southern Africa Development Community, the Indian Ocean Commission, COMESA, and the recently formed Indian Ocean Rim Association.

Trade, commitment to democracy, and the country's small size are driving forces behind Mauritian foreign policy. The country's political heritage and dependence on Western markets have led to close ties with the European Union and its member states, particularly the United Kingdom and France, which exercises sovereignty over neighboring Reunion Island.

Considered part of Africa geographically, Mauritius has friendly relations with other African states in the region, particularly South Africa, by far its largest continental trading partner. Mauritian investors are gradually entering African markets, notably Madagascar and Mozambique. Mauritius coordinates much of its foreign policy with the Southern Africa Development Community and the Organization of African Unity.

Relations with France and India are strong for both historical and commercial reasons. Foreign embassies in Mauritius include Australia, the United Kingdom, People's Republic of China, Egypt, France, India, Madagascar, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States.

Mauritius is also a member of the International Criminal Court with a Bilateral Immunity Agreement of protection for the US-military (as covered under Article 98).

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2833.htm

Military and police

See main article: Military of Mauritius and Mauritius Police Force. Mauritius does not have a standing army. All military, police, and security functions are carried out by 10,000 active-duty personnel under the command of the Commissioner of Police. This consists of an 8,000 member National Police which is responsible for domestic law enforcement, a 1,500 member Special Mobile Force (SMF), and a 500 member National Coast Guard.

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2833.htm

Geography

See main article: Geography of Mauritius.

See also: Maps of Mauritius at Wikimedia Commons

Mauritius is relatively young geologically, having been created by volcanic activity some 8 million years ago.[10] Together with Réunion and Rodrigues, Mauritius is part of the Mascarene Islands. These islands have emerged from the abysses as a result of gigantic underwater volcanic eruptions that happened thousands of kilometres to the east of the continental block made up by Africa and Madagascar.[10] They are no longer volcanically active, and the hotspot now rests under Réunion. There has been no active volcano on the island for more than 100,000 years.[10] Mauritius is encircled by a broken ring of mountain ranges, varying in height from 300 meters to 800 meters above sea level. The land rises from coastal plains to a central plateau where it reaches a height of 670 meters, the highest peak is in the southwest, Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire at 828m (2,717feet).[10] Streams and rivers speckle the island; a lot of them are formed in the cracks created by lava flows.

The country is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1242 miles) off the south East coast of Africa, between Latitudes 19°58.8' and 20°31.7' South and Longitudes 57°18.0' and 57°46.5' East.[11] [12] The island of Mauritius is 65 km long and 45 km wide[13] and has a total land area of some 1,864.8 km2,[8] it is surrounded by more than 150 kilometres (93 miles) of white sandy beaches and the lagoons are protected from the open sea by the world’s third largest coral reef, which surrounds the island.[12] Just off the Mauritian coast lie some 49 uninhabited islands and islets (see Islets of Mauritius), some of them are used as natural reserves for the protection of endangered species.

Territories and Dependencies

See main article: Territories and Dependencies of Mauritius. The total land area of the country, as per the Mauritius geography, is 2040 km2,[8] making it the 181st largest nation in the world by size. Mauritian territory also incorporates the island of Rodrigues, which is situated some 560 kilometers to the east and is 104 km2 in area.[8] [14] Two tiny dependencies, the Agalega Islands situated some 1,000 km to the north of Mauritius and the Cargados Carajos Shoals (also known as the St. Brandon Rocks) situated some 430 km to the north-east of Mauritius,[14] both with total land area of 71.2 km2.[8] Mauritius and France both claim sovereignty over Tromelin, small islands that lie 430 km to the north-east of Mauritius.[14] [15] Their location permits the nation's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to cover about 1.2 million square kilometers of the Indian Ocean.[15] Four fishing banks fall within EEZ limits, the Soudan Banks (including East Soudan Bank), Nazareth Bank, Saya de Malha Bank, Hawkins Bank. In 2011 the United Nations endorsed the joint submission of Mauritius and Seychelles to extend their continental shelf of 396,000 km2 in the Mascarene region which gives the two countries sovereign right to jointly manage and exploit the seabed and subsoil of the joint area.[16] [17] [18]

Mauritius sought to regain sovereignty, lost just before independence in 1968, over the Chagos Archipelago (1,931 kilometers to the northeast) which includes the Diego Garcia atoll, all of which comprise the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). Forty years ago its population then numbering some 2,000 people, were expelled by the British government to Mauritius and Seychelles to allow the United States to establish a military base on the island. Today the exiled Chagossians are still fighting to go back to their homeland, claiming that the forced expulsion and dispossession (see Depopulation of Diego Garcia) was illegal.[6] [19]

Climate

The local climate is tropical, modified by southeast trade winds; there is a warm, dry winter from May to November and a hot, wet, and humid summer from November to May. Anti-cyclones affect the country during May to September. Cyclones affect the country during November–April. Hollanda (1994) and Dina (2002) were the worst two last cyclones to have affected the island.

Biodiversity

The country is home to some of the world's rarest plants and animals. But human habitation and the introduction of non-native species have threatened its indigenous flora and fauna.[6]

See also: List of birds of Mauritius and List of mammals of Mauritius.

Dodo

See main article: Dodo.

When it was discovered, the island of Mauritius was the home of a previously unknown species of bird, which the Portuguese named the dodo (simpleton), as they appeared to be not too bright. Dodos were descendents of a type of pigeon which settled in Mauritius over 4 million years ago. With no predators to attack them, they lost their need and ability to fly. They lived and nested on the ground and ate fruits that had fallen from trees. There were no mammals on the island and a high diversity of bird species lived in the dense forests.

In 1505, the Portuguese became the first humans to set foot on Mauritius. The island quickly became a stopover for ships engaged in the spice trade. Weighing up to 50 pounds, the dodo was a welcome source of fresh meat for the sailors. Large numbers of dodos were killed for food.

Later, when the Dutch used the island as a penal colony, domesticated animals were brought to the island along with the convicts. Many of the ships that came to Mauritius also had rats aboard, some of which escaped onto the island. Before humans and other mammals arrived the dodo had little to fear from predators. The rats, pigs and monkeys ate dodo eggs in the ground nests.

The combination of human exploitation and introduced species significantly reduced the dodo population. Within 100 years of the arrival of humans on Mauritius, the once abundant dodo became a rare bird. The last one was killed in 1681.[20]

The dodo is prominently featured as a supporter of the national Coat of arms of Mauritius.

Environment

See main article: Wildlife of Mauritius. The environment in Mauritius is typically tropical in the coastal regions with forests in the mountainous areas. Seasonal cyclones are destructive to the flora and fauna, although they recover quickly. The air quality in Mauritius is one of the best in the world, Mauritius ranked second in an air quality index released by the World Health Organization (OMS).[21] [22]

Districts

See main article: Districts of Mauritius. Mauritius is divided into nine districts which consist of different towns and villages. The island of Rodrigues used to be the country's tenth district before it gained autonomous status in 2002.

Demographics

See main article: Demographics of Mauritius. The population estimate (as of 1 July 2011) for the whole republic is 1,286,340, of whom 633,916 were males and 652,424 females. For the island of Mauritius only it is 1,248,129 and Rodrigues island 37,922. Agalega and St. Brandon had an estimated population of 289.[8] Mauritian society includes people from many different ethnic groups. The republic's residents are the descendants of people from India (Indo-Mauritian), continental Africa (Mauritian Creole people usually known as 'Creoles' in Mauritian creole), France (Franco-Mauritian) and China (Sino-Mauritian), among other places.

Language

See main article: Languages of Mauritius. The Mauritian Constitution makes no mention of an official language and its one million citizens speak mostly Mauritian Creole (a French-based creole), English and French.[23] It is only in the Parliament that the official language is English, although any member of the National Assembly can still address the chair in French.[2] However, English is generally accepted as the official language of Mauritius and as the language of government administration, the courts and business. The constitution of Mauritius and all laws are written in English. In Mauritius, people switch languages according to the situation. French and English, which have long enjoyed greater social status, are favored in educational and professional settings.[24] [25] Also, most newspapers and media communications are in French.[23] [26] The Mauritian Creole, derived mainly from French with influences from the other dialects, is spoken by the majority of the population and is considered the country's native language.[23] Rodriguan Creole and Agalega Creole are spoken by people from Rodrigues and Agalega islands.

Some ancestral languages which are also spoken in Mauritius include Hindi or Bhojpuri, Marathi, Urdu, Telugu, Tamil, Chinese language (Hakka, Mandarin or Cantonese) and Arabic.[24]

School students must use English and French; they also have the option to study oriental languages including Mauritian Creole.[23] The Mauritian population is multilingual; most Mauritians are equally fluent in English and French.[12] [23] [27]

Education

See main article: Education in Mauritius.

See also: List of secondary schools in Mauritius.

The education system in Mauritius is largely based on the British system since Mauritius was a former British colony. The government of Mauritius provides free education to its citizens from pre-primary to tertiary levels. Since July 2005, the government also introduced free transport for all students. For the year 2011, government expenditure on education was estimated at about Rs 11,709 million, representing 12.5 % of total expenditure.[28] The education system in Mauritius is categorized into 4 main sectors – pre-primary, primary, secondary and tertiary. The education structure consist of 3 years of pre-primary school, six years of free and compulsory primary schooling leading to the Certificate of Primary Education, followed by five years of secondary education leading to the School Certificate and a further two years of higher secondary ending with the Higher School Certificate. The O-Level and A-Level examinations are carried out by the University of Cambridge through University of Cambridge International Examinations, which devises the syllabus; prepares and prints the examinations papers and does the correction for a few subjects. The Tertiary Education sector includes studying at the colleges, universities and other technical institutions in Mauritius. The country's two main public universities are the University of Mauritius and University of Technology. The Tertiary Education Commission's Strategic Plan envisages Mauritius as a regional knowledge hub and a centre for higher learning and excellence. It promotes open and distance learning to increase access to post-secondary education and lifelong learning, both locally and regionally.[29]

Health

Economy

See main article: Economy of Mauritius. Mauritius has one of the most successful and competitive economies in Africa; 2010 GDP at market prices was estimated at $9.5 billion and per capita income at $7,420, one of the highest in Africa. Since independence in 1968, Mauritius has developed from a low-income, agriculture-based economy to a middle-income diversified economy. The economy is based on tourism, textiles, sugar, and financial services. In recent years, information and communication technology, seafood, hospitality and property development, healthcare, renewable energy, and education and training have emerged as important sectors, attracting substantial investment from both local and foreign investors.[15] For most of the period, annual growth has been 5-6 percent, far above the sub-Saharan African average.[30]

Mauritius has built its success on a free market economy. According to the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom, Mauritius leads sub-Saharan Africa in economic freedom and is ranked 12th worldwide. The report’s ranking of 183 countries is based on measures of economic openness, regulatory efficiency, rule of law, and competitiveness. For the fourth consecutive year, the World Bank’s 2012 Ease of Doing Business report ranks Mauritius first among African economies (23rd worldwide, out of 183 economies in all) in terms of overall ease of doing business. The government’s objective is for Mauritius to rank among the top 10 most investment- and business-friendly locations in the world.[15]

Mauritius has been the largest source of FDI inflows to India for many years, from april 2000 to december 2011 the FDI inflow to India amounts to US$62,470.80 million which account for more than 39% of total inflow.[31]

Sugar cane is grown on about 90% of the cultivated land area and accounts for 25% of export earnings. Mauritius is a good example of a monocrop economy but since it is no more dependent only upon agriculture, using this term would not be apt. However, a record-setting drought severely damaged the sugar crop in 1999. The government's development strategy centres on foreign investment. Mauritius has attracted over 9,000 offshore entities, many aimed at commerce in India and South Africa, while investment in the banking sector alone has reached over $1 billion. Economic performance during the period from 2000 through 2004 combined strong economic growth with unemployment at 7.6% in December 2004. France is the country's biggest trading partner, has close ties with the country, and provides technical assistance in various forms.

Mauritius has achieved successful economic and human development with a dual-track approach to economic liberalisation, whereby poorer sections of society have participated in its economic growth.[32] The experience of Mauritius has been used, alongside a number of other countries that have adopted a dual-track approach, to highlight the benefits to both economic growth and human development.[32] However, inflation and its impact on living costs remains a major issue. Between 2006 and 2008, the average rate of inflation was 9.1%; between 2007 and 2010, the Consumer Price Index, which gives an idea of the cost of products that are commonly consumed, rose from a yearly average of 103.8 points to 120.2 points.

Currency

See main article: Mauritian rupee. The rupee (sign: ₨; ISO 4217 code: MUR) is the currency of Mauritius. It is theoretically divided into 100 cents; however, as at October 2011, only 5 and 20 cent coins, are currently in circulation, the latest mintage of these two coins was in 2010. A Half Rupee coin is also in circulation.The rupee was established by law in 1876 as the local currency of Mauritius. The rupee was chosen due to the massive inflow of Indian rupees following Indian immigration to Mauritius. The Mauritian rupee was introduced in 1877, replacing the Indian rupee, sterling and the Mauritian dollar, with the Mauritian rupee equal to one Indian rupee or half a Mauritian dollar. The pound was worth 10¼ rupees at that time. The Mauritian currency also circulated in the Seychelles until 1914, when it was replaced by the Seychellois rupee at par. In 1934, a peg to sterling replaced the peg to the Indian rupee, at the rate of 1 rupee = 1 shilling 6 pence (the rate at which the Indian rupee was also pegged).[33] This rate, equivalent to 13⅓ rupees = 1 pound, was maintained until 1979.

Tourism

See main article: Tourism in Mauritius. Mauritius is one of the world’s top luxury tourism destinations.[34] It possesses a wide range of natural and man-made attractions, enjoys a sub-tropical climate with clear warm sea waters, attractive beaches, tropical fauna and flora complemented by a multi-ethnic and cultural population that is friendly and welcoming. These tourism assets are its main strength, especially since they are backed up by well-designed and run hotels, and reliable and operational services and infrastructures.[35] Mauritius received the World Leading island Destination award for the third time and World’s Best Beach at the World Travel Awards in January 2012.[36] Mauritius has also one of the highest rates of returning tourism visitors in the world.[34]

Recreational activities in Mauritius are varied. Water sports are facilitated as the island is surrounded with coral reef, providing relatively shallow and calm water. Activities such as deep-sea fishing, surfing, windsurfing, water-skiing, yachting and submarine rides are available. Land-based leisure activities include golf, tennis, skiing, sky diving, deer hunting, quad (ATV) riding, mountain biking, abseiling, zip lining, horse riding and trekking.

Transportation

See main article: Transport in Mauritius. The most common form of public transport between cities is the bus, but many people travel by automobile. There are currently no railways in Mauritius. There were previously industrial railways, but these have been abandoned. To cope with increasing road traffic congestion, a Light Rail Transit system has been proposed between Curepipe and Port Louis. As of 2011, it is still in the planning stages. The main harbour where international trade is handled is found at Port Louis. Transport in Mauritius has been free since July 2005 for students, the disabled and seniors. The main airport is Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport, the home of the national airline, Air Mauritius.

Media and communication

See main article: Telecommunications in Mauritius.

In 1847, Mauritius became the fifth location in the world to issue postage stamps. The two types of stamps issued then, known as the Mauritius "Post Office" stamps, consisting of a "Red Penny" and a "Blue Two Pence" denomination, are probably the most valuable stamps in the world.[37]

Culture

See main article: Culture of Mauritius. Mauritius has a cosmopolitan culture. Co-existence among Mauritians of Indian, African, European and Chinese ancestry has led to a sharing of cultures and values, a collective participation in festivals and increased understanding between people of different backgrounds. Mauritius is today a unique melting pot of peoples, languages and cultures.

Religion

See also: Hinduism in Mauritius, Christianity in Mauritius, Islam in Mauritius and Roman Catholicism in Mauritius. Hindus make up 52%, Roman Catholic 27.5%, other Christians 8.6%, Muslims 16.6% and non-religious 0.4% while other religions up to 2.5%, and an additional 0.3% didn't specify their religious beliefs.[15]

Most Franco-Mauritians and Mauritian Creoles are Christian. The Hindu population and most of the Muslim population are of South Asian origins. However, many Mauritians are of mixed descent, due to the fact that many of the slaves were mixed up causing many 'mixed races'. These languages are still preserved through the existence of different socio-cultural organizations and with the school systems obliging primary school students to study an oriental language. A minority of people are of Chinese descent, many of whom have embraced Christianity, following mainly Roman Catholicism. Some follow Buddhism and Confucian traditions.

Holidays and festivals

Mauritius public holidays involves the blending of several cultures from Mauritius’s history, as well as individual culture arising indigenously. There are Hindu festivals, Chinese festivals, Muslim festivals, as well as Christian festivals.

There are 15 annual public holidays in Mauritius. Seven of these are fixed holidays: 1st and 2nd January; 1st February; 12th March; 1st May; 2nd November; and 25th December. The remaining public holidays are religious festivals with dates that vary from year to year. However these are public holidays, many other festivals like Holi, Raksha Bandhan, Père Laval Pilgrimageal also exist in Mauritius.

Music and folklore

See main article: Music of Mauritius. The sega is a local folklore music. It has African roots and the main traditional instruments for producing the music are goat-skin percussion instruments called ravanne, the West African Djembe and metallic clicks using metal triangles. The songs usually describe the miseries of slavery, and is currently used to voice inequalities as felt by the blacks. Men are usually at the instruments while women perform an accompanying dance. The origin of Sega is not completely known however it is likely to have come from West African countries such as Ghana due to the similarities in the music.

Literature

See main article: Mauritian literature. Mauritius has generated a diversified literature in French, English and Creole. Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, the 2008 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, is of Franco-Mauritian origin and lives on the island for part of each year.

Cuisine

See main article: Cuisine of Mauritius. The cuisine of Mauritius is a blend of Indian, African, Chinese and European influences. It is common for a combination of cuisines to form part of the same meal.

The production of rum, which is made from sugar cane, is widespread on the island. Sugarcane was first introduced to Mauritius by the Dutch in 1638. The Dutch mainly cultivated sugarcane for the production of "arrack", a precursor to rum. However, it was during the French and British administrations that sugar production was fully exploited. Pierre Charles François Harel was the first to propose the concept of local distillation of rum in Mauritius, in 1850. Beer is also produced on the Island, by the Phoenix Brewery.

Cinema

The Internet Movie Database lists over seventy films and TV programmes which have used Mauritius as their filming location. These range from comedies such as Jane and the Lost City (1987) and Mon Pere, ce Heros (1991), through action thrillers such as Gor (1987) and Khauff (2000) to more adult fare such as Melody In Love (1978) and Die Insel der tausend Freuden (1978). The island's tropical location and its natural history have been the subjects of various documentaries such as the TV series Voxtours (1993), the mini series Wild Islands (1998) and the documentary Des Vacances à L'Île Maurice (2004).

Sports

See also: Football in Mauritius.

The most popular sport in Mauritius is football and the national team is the Club M. However, Mauritius' national sports teams has had little success internationally because of its small population, lack of funding and a local culture that values academic achievement over other activities. Water sports are popular, including swimming, sailing, scuba diving and water skiing. Other popular sports in Mauritius include cyling, table tennis, badminton, volleyball, basketball, handball, boxing, pétanque, judo, karate, taekwondo, weightlifting, bodybuilding and athletics.

However Mauritius is quite competitive at regional level in the Indian Ocean. Mauritius collected some golds, silver and bronze medals in the Indian Ocean Island Games. The second (1985) and fifth editions (2003) were hosted by Mauritius. Mauritius won its first Olympic medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, boxer Bruno Julie won the bronze medal. The national sport, however, remains horseracing, which is part and parcel of the island's cultural heritage. Horseracing in Mauritius dates to 1812, when the Champ de Mars Racecourse was inaugurated, making it the oldest racecourse in the Southern Hemisphere. Eight races are held every Saturday from March to December afternoon at the Champ de Mars Racecourse in Port Louis.

See also

References

Notes
  • References
  • Bibliography
  • External links

    Government
    Reference
    Geography
    Travel
    Education
    Mauritius Government portal, the United States Department of State, the United States Library of Congress and the CIA World Factbook.

    Notes and References

    1. Web site: language. Government of mauritius. 4 January 2012.
    2. Web site: Article 49 of The Constitution. National Assembly of Mauritius. 1 November 2011.
    3. Web site: Mauritius. International Monetary Fund. 16 October 2011.
    4. Web site: Human Development Report 2010. 2010. United Nations. 5 November 2010.
    5. Mauritius's DST period started on the last Sunday in October 2006, and ended on the last Sunday in March 2007. It was re-introduced in 2008 and Mauritius did not repeat DST since 2009.
    6. Web site: Mauritius profile. 2011. BBC World. 29 February 2012.
    7. Web site: Moibrahim Foundation. Moibrahim Foundation. 15 November 2011.
    8. Rule of Law. Bertelsmann Transformation Index. 2008. 10 February 2012.
    9. Overview of the department. 151. Government of Mauritius. 10 February 2012.
    10. Web site: Geography − Overview. Gov.mu. 4 January 2012.
    11. Web site: Meteorological Services − Monthly Bulletin of Climatological Summaries. May 2008. 3. Mauritius Meteorological Services. 22 March 2012.
    12. Web site: Tourism − Overview of Mauritius. Government of mauritius. 4 January 2012.
    13. Web site: General Info - Geography. Mauritius.net. 4 January 2012.
    14. Web site: Geography − location. Government of mauritius. 4 January 2012.
    15. Web site: [https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mp.html#Issues Mauritius]. CIA - The World Factbook. 4 January 2012.
    16. Web site: Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) Outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines:Submissions to the Commission: Joint submission by the Republic of Mauritius and the Republic of Seychelles. United Nation. 18 March 2012.
    17. Web site: Mauritius and Seychelles successfully claim 396,000km of additional seabed. Commonwealth of Nations. 18 March 2012.
    18. Web site: Mauritius and Seychelles to jointly manage extended continental shelf. 06 May 2011. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 18 March 2012.
    19. Web site: HISTORICAL BACKGROUND - WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CHAGOS ARCHIPELAGO ?. chagosinternational.org. 24 January 2012.
    20. Web site: The Dodo. Government of Mauritius. 12 March 2012.
    21. Web site: Mauritius's air quality 2nd best in world. 26 September 2011. Le Matinal. 19 February 2012.
    22. Web site: According to the World Health Organization - Mauritius: a breath of fresh air. motors.mega.mu. 19 February 2012.
    23. Web site: Language in Mauritius. mauritiusuncovered.co.uk. 1 November 2011.
    24. Web site: Demographics. mauritiusgovernment.com. 19 October 2011.
    25. Web site: Chiba. Eugene. English Usage in Mauritius. Computing in the Humanities and Social Sciences — Faculty of Arts & Sciences, University of Toronto. 2006. 1 October 2011.
    26. Web site: Mauritius defies anglophone past to embrace French language. Afp.google.com. 18 October 2008. 4 July 2010.
    27. Web site: Mauritius - Society. Mongabay.com. 1 November 2011.
    28. Education statistics - 2011. Government of Mauritius. Ministry of Education and Human Resource. 2011. 17 February 2012.
    29. Education. commonwealth-of-nations.org. 2006. 17 February 2012.
    30. Milo Vandemoortele and Kate Bird 2010. Progress in economic conditions in Mauritius: Success against the odds. London: Overseas Development Institute
    31. News: Factsheet on FDI Inflow to India. December 2011. Government of India, Ministry of Commerce and Industry. 5. 12 March 2012.
    32. Vandemoortele, Milo (2010) MDG fundamentals: improving equity for development, Overseas Development Institute. See briefing papers linked on this web page.
    33. Web site: Tables of Modern Monetary Systems (Mauritius). 2011-11-19. Schuler. Kurt. Kurt Schuler.
    34. Web site: Positioning Mauritius in the world. MTPA. 46. 28 January 2012.
    35. Web site: Code of ethics of tourism for Mauritius. MTPA. 28 January 2012.
    36. Web site: Mauritius awards. World travel award. 24 February 2012.
    37. Web site: Blue Mauritius: The Hunt for the World’s Most Valuable Stamps. helenmorgan. 4 February 2012.