Mauritius - Country history and economic development



1510. Portuguese visit Mauritius, then an uninhabited island.

1598. Dutch settle on the island, introducing sugar cane.

1710. Dutch leave the island for the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

1715. French occupy the island. The building of the harbor of Port Louis, which then becomes the capital, takes place.

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Mauritius 21 8 13 3 13 10 32
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
South Africa N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Comoros N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
a Excludes energy used for transport.
b Includes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

1810. British conquer the island.

1814. Mauritius formally ceded to the British in the Treaty of Paris. However, most of the French settlers remain on the island and are allowed to keep their customs, religions, and laws. The French plantation aristocracy retain their economic prominence and few British people come to the colony.

1835. Britain abolishes slavery (slaves had mainly come from Madagascar, Senegal, and Mozambique), amid much resistance from French plantation owners. This leads to importation of about 500,000 Indian indentured laborers to work in the sugar cane fields. The rapid development of infrastructure takes place and the British begin to provide free primary education.

1860s. The sugar economy begins to decline, due to increased sugar production in other countries and resultant lower prices. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 shifts trade routes away from the Indian Ocean.

1917. Indenture system formally ends.

1959. First elections under universal suffrage are held.

1968. Mauritius achieves independence. The country adopts a constitution based on British parliamentary system. A few weeks before independence, violence between Creoles and Muslims leaves 25 people dead and hundreds injured.

1970. Enactment of the Export Processing Zones Act.

1971. The Militant Movement of Mauritius (MMM) calls a number of debilitating strikes. A coalition government led by the Mauritius Labor Party (MLP; headed by Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam) promulgates the Public Order Act which bans many forms of political activity. A state of emergency lasts until 1976.

1982. MMM-led government gains power in elections, with Anerood Jugnauth as Prime Minister and Paul Bérenger as Finance Minister.

1983. Ruling coalition breaks up and new elections are held. Jugnauth's new party, the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM), joins with the MLP and the Mauritian Social Democrat Party to win the election comfortably.

1991. A coalition between the MSM and MMM wins the elections.

1992. The constitution is amended to make Mauritius a republic with the British Commonwealth.

2000. Anerood Jugnauth is reelected president as head of a coalition between the MSM and MMM.

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