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Mauritius ( ; , Mauritian Creole: Moris, , ), officially the Republic of Mauritius, is an island nation off the coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about east of Madagascarmarker. In addition to the island of Mauritius, the Republic includes the islands of Cargados Carajosmarker, Rodriguesmarker and the Agalega Islandsmarker. Mauritius is part of the Mascarene Islandsmarker, with the French island of Réunionmarker to the southwest and the island of Rodriguesmarker to the northeast.

The island of Mauritius is renowned for having been the only known home of the dodo. First sighted by Europeans around 1600 on Mauritius, the dodo became extinct less than eighty years later.

History

A postcard c.1900-1910 showing the Port Louis theatre.
The island was known by Arab and Austronesian sailors as early as the 10th century. The Portuguesemarker sailors first visited it in 1507 and established a visiting base leaving the island uninhabited. Three ships of the eight Dutchmarker Second Fleet that were sent to the Spice Islandsmarker were blown off course during a cyclone and landed on the island in 1598, naming it in honour of Prince Maurice of Nassau, the Stadtholder of the Netherlands. In 1638, the Dutch established the first permanent settlement. Because of tough climatic conditions including cyclones and the deterioration of the settlement, the Dutch abandoned the island some decades later. France, which already controlled the neighbouring Île Bourbon (now Réunionmarker) seized Mauritius in 1715 and later renamed it Île de France (Isle of France). Under French rule, the island developed a prosperous economy based on sugar production. In the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) the British set out to gain control of the island. Despite winning the Battle of Grand Portmarker, Napoleon's only naval victory over the British, 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 the original one.

Politics

The Government is elected on a five-year basis. The most recent general elections took place on July 3 2005 in all the 20 mainland constituencies, as well as the constituency covering the island of Rodriguesmarker. Historically, elections have tended to be a contest between two major coalitions of parties.

In international affairs, Mauritius is part of the Indian Ocean Commission, the Southern African Development Community and the Commonwealth of Nations and La Francophonie (French speaking countries), amongst others. A more complete list can be found in the main Politics of Mauritius article.

In 2006, Mauritius asked to be an observing member of Community of Portuguese Language Countriesmarker (CPLP) in order to become closer to those countries.

Mauritius is the best-governed country in Africa, according to the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which measures governance using a number of different variables. This is a fair reflection of its excellent scores in all 5 major categories of the Index: Safety and Security; Rule of Law, Transparency and Corruption; Participation and Human Rights; Sustainable Economic Development; and Human Development.[2884]

Office Held Office Holder Imcubency Religion
President
Head of state
Commander in chief

The Rt.Hon Sir Anerood Jugnauth, Qc, KCMG, PC, GCSK 7 October 2003 Hindu
Vice President Angidi Chettiar 2 November 2007 Hindu
Prime Minister The Hon. Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam GCSK ,MP 5 July 2005 Hindu
Deputy Prime Minister Dr.Rashid Beebeejaun, GCSK,MP 7 July 2005 Muslim
Vice Prime Minister
Minister Of Tourism
Hon. Xavier Luc Duval GCSK ACCA, MP 7 July 2005 Christian
Vice Prime Minister
Finance Minister Of Mauritius
Hon. Dr Rama Sithanen GCSK, MP 7 July 2005 Hindu
Senior Minister
National Social Security Minister
The Hon. Mrs Sheilabai Bappoo GOSK, MP 7 July 2005 Hindu


Military and police

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.

Geography

Map of Mauritius
Satellite image of Mauritius, February 2003, with traced outline of island
Beach scenery on Rodrigues island, part of the Republic of Mauritius
Together with Réunionmarker and Rodriguesmarker, Mauritius is part of the Mascarene Islandsmarker. This archipelago was formed in a series of undersea volcanic eruptions 8-10 million years ago, as the African plate drifted over the Réunion hotspot. They are no longer volcanically active, and the hotspot now rests under Réunion. The island of Mauritius itself is formed around a central plateau, with its highest peak in the southwest, Piton de la Petite Rivière Noiremarker at . Around the plateau, the original crater can still be distinguished from several mountains.

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.

The island's capital and largest city is Port Louismarker, in the northwest. Other important towns are Rose-Hillmarker and Beau-Bassinmarker, Curepipemarker, Vacoasmarker, Phoenixmarker, Quatre Bornesmarker.

The island is well known for its natural beauty. Author Mark Twain, for example, noted in Following the Equator, his personal travelogue, "You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius". (This quote is often taken out of context. Twain actually wrote: "From one citizen you gather the idea that Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; and that heaven was copied after Mauritius. Another one tells you that this is an exaggeration…")

Environment

Districts and dependencies

The island of Mauritius itself is divided into nine districts:
  1. Black River (Capital: Bambousmarker)
  2. Flacqmarker (Capital: Centre de Flacqmarker)
  3. Grand Portmarker (Capital: Mahebourgmarker)
  4. Mokamarker (Capital: Quartier Militairemarker)
  5. Pamplemoussesmarker (Capital: Triolet)
  6. Plaines Wilhemsmarker (Capital: Beau Bassinmarker and Rose Hillmarker, Phoenixmarker)
  7. Port Louismarker (Capital of Mauritius)
  8. Rivière du Rempartmarker (Capital: Mapoumarker)
  9. Savannemarker (Capital: Souillac)


Dependencies

  • Rodriguesmarker, an island north-east of Mauritius, which attained limited autonomy in October 2002. It had the status of the 10th administrative district of Mauritius before autonomy was attained.
  • Agalega, two small islands about 933 kilometres (580 mi) north of Mauritius, famous for supplying chickens.
  • Cargados Carajosmarker, also known as the Saint Brandon islands, about 402 kilometres (250 mi) north of Mauritius.


Fishing Banks within EEZ

Four submerged fishing banks are mentioned in government documents because they fall within EEZ limits:

Claimed as Dependencies

Mauritius also claims the following territories:



Economy



Since independence in 1968, Mauritius has developed from a low-income, agriculturally based economy to a middle income diversified economy with growing industrial, financial, and tourist sectors. For most of the period, annual growth has been of the order of 5% to 6%. This has been reflected in increased life expectancy, lowered infant mortality and improved infrastructure.

Estimated at US$10,155 for 2005 at purchasing power parity (PPP), Mauritius has the seventh-highest GDP per capita in Africa, behind Réunionmarker (US$19,233 at real exchange rates), Seychellesmarker (US$13,887 at PPP), Gabonmarker (US$12,742 at PPP), Botswanamarker (US$12,057 at PPP), Equatorial Guineamarker (US$11,999 at PPP), and Libyamarker (US$10,727 at PPP). The economy is mainly dependent on sugarcane plantations, tourism, textiles, and services, but other sectors are rapidly developing as well. Mauritius, Libya, and Seychelles are the only three African nations with a "high" Human Development Index rating (Réunion, as part of France, is not listed by the UN in their Human Development Index ranking).

Sugar cane is grown on about 90% of the cultivated land area and accounts for 25% of export earnings. However, a record-setting drought severely damaged the sugar crop in 1999. The government's development strategy centres on foreign investment. Mauritius has attracted more than 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.

In order to provide locals with access to imports at lower prices and attract more tourists going to Singaporemarker and Dubaimarker, Mauritius is gearing towards becoming a duty-free island within the next four years. Duty has been eliminated for several products and decreased for more than 1850 products including clothing, food, jewelry, photographic equipment, audio visual equipment and lighting equipment. In addition, reforms aimed at attracting new business opportunities have also been implemented. But, one of the biggest impediments is the traffic movement between the towns, which is slowing the development of Mauritius. The corporate tax has recently been reduced to 15% to encourage non resident companies to trade or invest through a permanent establishment or otherwise.

A plan by ADB Networks calls for Mauritius to become the first nation to have coast-to-coast wireless internet access. The wireless hot spot currently covers about 60% of the island and is accessible by about 70% of its population.

Mauritius ranks first among all countries in FDI inflows to India, with cumulative inflows amounting to US$10.98 billion. The top sectors attracting FDI inflows from Mauritius between January 2000 and December 2005 were electrical equipment, telecommunications, fuels, cement and gypsum products and services sector (financial and non-financial).

Transportation

Transport in Mauritius has been free since July 2005 for students, the disabled, Doctors and seniors.

Credit for this goes to Hon. Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam, the current Prime Minister of Mauritius, who promised this scheme to Mauritians during his election campaign.

Education

Education from pre-primary through to secondary is free for each citizen born in the country.

Before 2001, most prestigious schools used to be called "Star Schools" and each year, the CPE pupils would compete against each other to gain entrance to those schools based on a ranking system. In 2001, the government - with Steven Obeegadoo as minister of Education - decided that there would be an educational reform in Mauritius. The ranking system was abolished and replaced by the grading system coupled with the regionalisation system which advocates going to a school near one's residence. In February 2006, with Dharambeer Gokhool as minister of Education, the "A+" system, which is similar to the pre-2001 system, was introduced. CPE students now need to get "A+" in all their subjects to gain admission to "National Colleges" which consequently became as much coveted as the "Star Schools" were before the reform..

The following is a list of the "National Colleges" in no particular order

State schools

  • Beekrumsing Ramlallah State College
  • John Kennedy College
  • Mahatma Gandhi Institute
  • Piton State College
  • Royal College Curepipe
  • Royal College Port Louis
  • Sir Abdool Raman Osman State College
  • Sir Leckraz Teelock SSS
  • Sookdeo Bissoondoyal State College
  • Dr Maurice Curé State College
  • D Ramphul State College
  • Forest Side SSS
  • France Boyer de la Giroday SSS
  • Gaëtan Raynal State College
  • Mahatma Gandhi Institute
  • G.M.D Atchia State College
  • Queen Elizabeth College


Catholic schools



Private schools



Demographics

The population estimate for the whole republic is 1,264,867. For the island of Mauritius only, as at 31 December 2007, it is 1,227,078. Mauritian society includes people from many different ethnic groups. The republic's residents are the descendants of people from continental Africa (Mauritian Creole people usually known as 'Creoles'), India (Indo-Mauritian), France (Franco-Mauritian) and China (Sino-Mauritian), among other places.

Religion

Hindus make up 52%, Roman Catholic 28.4%, and Muslim 16.6% while other unspecified religions up to 3%. There is supposedly a significant migrant population of Bhumihar Brahmin in Mauritius who have made a mark for themselves in different fields. Churches and Dravidian Tamil pagodas and temples are found in large numbers.

Most Creoles are Christians. The majority of the Muslims and the whole Hindu population come from India and Pakistan. Some Muslims are also from the Middle East. Hindus include Bhojpuri, Tamil, Marathi and Telugu speakers. A minority of people are of Chinese descent, many of whom have embraced Christianity, following mainly Roman Catholicism. Some follow Buddhism and Confucian traditions. The constitution of the country sees the rest of the people as General Population. Recently, voices have called for the advocation of 'creolity' from people with slave-descent blood. The authorities seem to be approving the recognition of this request since the 'Festival Créole' was hosted and financed by the government.

Language

The Mauritian Constitution makes no mention of an official language and its one million citizens speak either English, French or Mauritian Creole, a French-based creole. It is only in the Parliament that the official language is English but any member of the National Assembly can still address the chair in French. However, English is generally accepted as the official language of Mauritius and as the language of government administration and the court business. The lingua franca is Creole.

In Mauritius, people switch languages according to the situation. Creole and Bhojpuri are the main languages used at home, both French and Creole are used in a business context and English is used most in schools and governments. French and English, which have long enjoyed greater social status, are favored in educational and professional settings. Also, most newspapers and media communications are in French.

Mauritian Créole, which is spoken by 90 percent of the population, is considered to be the native tongue of the country and is used most often in informal settings. It was developed in the 18th century by slaves who used a pidgin language to communicate with each other as well as with their French masters, who did not understand the various African languages. The pidgin evolved with later generations to become a casual language. Mauritian Creole is a French-based creole due to its close ties with French pronunciation and vocabulary.

Other languages spoken in Mauritius include Tamil, Hindi, Marathi, Urdu, Hakka (a Chinese dialect), Gujarati, and Bhojpuri, which is an amalgamation of several Indian dialects spoken by the early Indian settlers. Most Mauritians are at least bilingual, if not trilingual.http://74.125.113.132/search?q=cache:9wPofOfgOiEJ:www.gov.mu/portal/goc/webattorney/file/briefing.pdf+most+MAURITIANS+bilingual<&CD=10&HL=FR&CT=CLNK&GL=CA<></&CD=10&HL=FR&CT=CLNK&GL=CA<>ref>

Culture

The cuisine of Mauritius is a blend of Indian, Creole, 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, which considerably contributed to the economical development of the island. 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.

The sega is a local folklore music. Sega has African roots and the main traditional instruments for producing the music are goat-skin percussion instruments called ravane and metallic clicks using metal triangles. The songs usually describe the miseries of slavery, and has been adapted nowadays as social satires to voice out inequalities as felt by the blacks. Men are usually at the instruments while women perform an accompanying dance which is more often erotic.

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 famous and valuable stamps in the world.

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. By 1681, all dodos had been killed by the settlers or by their domesticated animals. An alternate theory suggests that the imported wild boars that were set free destroyed the slow-breeding dodo population. The dodo is prominently featured as a supporter of the national coat-of-arms (see above).

The island has also given rise to 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.

In Mauritius, the following festivals-- Christmas, Cavadee, Chinese New Year, Père Laval, Diwali, Mahashivratri and Eid Al-Fitr-- are celebrated.

Recreational activities in Mauritius are quite varied to support the local tourism industry. Water sports are facilitated as the island is surrounded with coral reef, providing plenty of relatively shallow and calm water. Activities such as deep sea fishing, windsurfing, water-skiing, cruising in yachts and even submarines are some of the many water based recreations available.

Land-based leisure activities include golf, tennis, skiing, sea diving, deer hunting, quad & mountain biking, abseiling, zip lining, horse riding and trekking. However, all these are most often practiced by the elite only.

Electrical power

Mauritius uses a 220 Volt 50 Hz AC mains supply. The plug types are C and G:See Mains Power Around the World for more information.

International rankings

Survey Organisation Ranking
Index of Economic Freedom 2008 Heritage Foundation/The Wall Street Journal 18 out of 157
Corruption Perceptions Index 2008 Transparency International 41 out of 180
Ease of Doing Business Index (2010 report) World Bank Group 17 out of 183
Digital Opportunity Index (2007) International Telecommunication Union 50 out of 181
Press Freedom Index (2007) Reporters Without Borders 25 out of 169
Human Development Index (2008) United Nations Development Programme 74 out of 177


See also



References

  1. http://www.tamilnation.org/diaspora/mauritius.htm
  2. , p.13.
  3. The Hudson River in North America was first named "Mauritius River" for the same Stadtholder.
  4. Duty-free plan in Mauritius, TREND-News.com, 04-06-2005
  5. http://www.gov.mu/portal/goc/assemblysite/file/pnqans281106.pdf.
  6. http://www.gov.mu/portal/sites/mesweb/cpe_results_2008.htm
  7. http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081018/wl_africa_afp/mauritiusculturelanguagefrancophonie_081018200526
  8. http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gn6YyJpIZpbt91LA3lwzKzWG6UXA
  9. http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~cpercy/courses/6362-chiba.htm
  10. http://m2002.thecgf.com/Nations/Africa/Mauritius/default.asp
  11. , p.353.
  12. http://www.brandeis.edu/coexistence/linked%20documents/Nigel%20-%20Mauritius%20FINAL.pdf.
  13. http://www.gov.mu/portal/site/Mainhomepage/menuitem.a42b24128104d9845dabddd154508a0c/?content_id=dd86a309d9ece110VgnVCM1000000a04a8c0RCRD


Further reading

  • Dodd, Jan and Madeleine Philippe. Lonely Planet Mauritius Reunion & Seychelles. Lonely Planet Publications, 2004. ISBN 1-74059-301-4
  • Lee, Jacques: Mauritius: Its Creole Language - The Ultimate Creole Phrase Book and Dictionary, Paperback 160 pages (August 15 2005), Publisher: Nautilus, ISBN 0-9511296-4-3.
  • Lee, Jacques: Sega: The Mauritian Folk Dance, Paperback 104 pages (December 1990), Publisher: Nautilus, ISBN 0-9511296-1-9
  • Khal Torabully, Coolitude : An Anthology of the Indian Labour Diaspora (with Marina Carter, Anthem Press, London, 2002) ISBN 1843310031


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