Republic of Mauritius
CAPITAL : Port Louis
FLAG : The national flag consists of four horizontal stripes of red, blue, yellow, and green.
ANTHEM : Glory to Thee, Motherland, O Motherland of Mine.
MONETARY UNIT : The Mauritius rupee ( R ) is a currency of 100 cents. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents and 1 rupee, and notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 rupees. R 1 = $0.03787 (or $1 = R 26.4) as of May 2003.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : The metric system is in general use; traditional weights and measures also are employed.
HOLIDAYS : New Year, 1–2 January; National Day, 12 March; Labor Day, 1 May. Christian, Hindu, and Muslim holidays also are observed.
TIME : 4 PM = noon GMT.
Mauritius is mostly of volcanic formation and is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs. A coastal plain rises sharply to a plateau 275 to 580 m (900–1,900 ft) high. Piton de la Rivière Noire, the highest peak, reaches 828 m (2,717 ft). The longest river is the Grand River South East.
A small number of Mauritians emigrate each year, principally to Australia, Europe, and Canada. The net migration rate was -2.0 per 1,000 population in 2000. In that year the number of migrants living in Mauritius was 8,000. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.
The largest group on Mauritius—about 68% of the population— is Indo-Mauritian, consisting of immigrants from India and their descendants. About 27% of the islanders are Creole (mixed European and African), 3% Sino-Mauritian, and 2% Franco-Mauritian.
English and French are the official languages; however, Creole, derived from French, is most widely spoken. On Rodrigues, virtually the entire population speaks Creole. Bojpoori, Hindi, Urdu, and Hakka are also widely spoken. Only a small minority speak English as a first language.
There are nine administrative districts and three dependencies, of which the Island of Rodrigues is one. The other dependencies are Agalega Islands and Carajos Shoals. The lowest level of local government is the village council, composed of elected as well as nominated members; above the village councils are three district councils. Commissions govern the major towns. There are also three dependencies.
All defense and security duties are carried out by the 10,000 personnel police force. The paramilitary forces within this structure are the 688-member Coast Guard and the 1,400-member Special Mobile Force. There is also an air wing with two air craft. The defense budget for 2001 was $9.1 million or 0.2% of GDP.
In 2001, Mauritius had 95,000 goats, 28,000 head of cattle, 12,000 pigs, and 7.7 million chickens. That year, 4,700 tons of cow milk, 26,300 tons of meat, and 5,200 tons of hen eggs were produced.
The total catch in 2000 was 9,299 tons, a decline from 21,157 tons in 1993. In 2000, about 3% of the catch consisted of skipjack tuna. Exports of fish products were valued at nearly $36.6 million in 2000.
About 8% of the total land area of Mauritius is classified as forest. Roundwood removals were an estimated 25,000 cu m (882,500 cu ft) in 2000, half of it burned as fuel. Sawn wood production was about 5,000 cu m (176,500 cu ft) in 2000.
The installed capacity of power plants in 2001 totaled 365,000 kW. Production increased from 136 million kWh in 1970 to 1.3 billion kWh in 2000, of which 91% was from fossil fuels and 9% from hydropower. A significant portion of all primary energy consumed comes from bagasse, or sugarcane waste.
There are at least 20 insurance companies operating in Mauritius. In 2001, there was $112 million in life insurance premiums written in Mauritius.
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam (1900–85), the first leader of independent Mauritius, was prime minister from 1968 to 1982, when Aneerood Jugnauth (b.1930) succeeded him. The prime minister, Navinchandra Ramgoolam (b.1947), has been in office since 1995.
Dependencies are the Agalega Islands and the St. Brandon Group.
Allen, Richard B. Slaves, Freedmen, and Indentured Laborers in Colonial Mauritius. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Bennett, Pramila Ramgulam. Mauritius Collaboration of George John Bennett. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Clio Press, 1992.
Bowman, Larry W. Mauritius: Democracy and Development in the Indian Ocean. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1991.
Mauritius: Expanding Horizons. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1992.
NgCheong-Lum, Roseline. Culture Shock! Mauritius. A Guide to Customs and Etiquette. Singapore: Time Books International, 1997.
Population-Development-Environment: Understanding Their Interactions in Mauritius . Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1994.
Selvon, Sydney. Historical Dictionary of Mauritius. 2d ed. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1991.