Although known to Arab and Malay sailors as early as the 10th century, Mauritius was first explored by the Portuguese in the 16th century and subsequently settled by the Dutch - who named it in honor of Prince Maurits van NASSAU - in the 17th century. The French assumed control in 1715, developing the island into an important naval base overseeing Indian Ocean trade, and establishing a plantation economy of sugar cane. The British captured the island in 1810, during the Napoleonic Wars. Mauritius remained a strategically important British naval base, and later an air station, playing an important role during World War II for anti-submarine and convoy operations, as well as the collection of signals intelligence. Independence from the UK was attained in 1968. A stable democracy with regular free elections and a positive human rights record, the country has attracted considerable foreign investment and has one of Africa's highest per capita incomes.



Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, about 800 km (500 mi) east of Madagascar

Geographic coordinates

20 17 S, 57 33 E

Map references



total: 2,040 sq km
land: 2,030 sq km
water: 10 sq km
note: includes Agalega Islands, Cargados Carajos Shoals (Saint Brandon), and Rodrigues

Area - comparative

almost 11 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

0 km


177 km

Maritime claims

measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin


tropical, modified by southeast trade winds; warm, dry winter (May to November); hot, wet, humid summer (November to May)


small coastal plain rising to discontinuous mountains encircling central plateau


mean elevation: NA
elevation extremes: lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Piton 828 m

Natural resources

arable land, fish

Land use

agricultural land: 43.8%
arable land 38.4%; permanent crops 2%; permanent pasture 3.4%
forest: 17.3%
other: 38.9% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

190 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

cyclones (November to April); almost completely surrounded by reefs that may pose maritime hazards

Environment - current issues

water pollution, degradation of coral reefs

Environment - international agreements

party to: Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

the main island, from which the country derives its name, is of volcanic origin and is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs; former home of the dodo, a large flightless bird related to pigeons, driven to extinction by the end of the 17th century through a combination of hunting and the introduction of predatory species

People and Society

Population growth rate

0.61% (2016 est.)


1,348,242 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Mauritian(s)
adjective: Mauritian

Ethnic groups

Indo-Mauritian 68%, Creole 27%, Sino-Mauritian 3%, Franco-Mauritian 2%


Creole 86.5%, Bhojpuri 5.3%, French 4.1%, two languages 1.4%, other 2.6% (includes English, the official language, which is spoken by less than 1% of the population), unspecified 0.1% (2011 est.)


Hindu 48.5%, Roman Catholic 26.3%, Muslim 17.3%, other Christian 6.4%, other 0.6%, none 0.7%, unspecified 0.1% (2011 est.)

Demographic profile

Mauritius has transitioned from a country of high fertility and high mortality rates in the 1950s and mid-1960s to one with among the lowest population growth rates in the developing world today. After World War II, Mauritius’ population began to expand quickly due to increased fertility and a dramatic drop in mortality rates as a result of improved health care and the eradication of malaria. This period of heightened population growth – reaching about 3% a year – was followed by one of the world’s most rapid birth rate declines.
The total fertility rate fell from 6.2 children per women in 1963 to 3.2 in 1972 – largely the result of improved educational attainment, especially among young women, accompanied by later marriage and the adoption of family planning methods. The family planning programs’ success was due to support from the government and eventually the traditionally pronatalist religious communities, which both recognized that controlling population growth was necessary because of Mauritius’ small size and limited resources. Mauritius’ fertility rate has consistently been below replacement level since the late 1990s, a rate that is substantially lower than nearby countries in southern Africa.
With no indigenous population, Mauritius’ ethnic mix is a product of more than two centuries of European colonialism and continued international labor migration. Sugar production relied on slave labor mainly from Madagascar, Mozambique, and East Africa from the early 18th century until its abolition in 1835, when slaves were replaced with indentured Indians. Most of the influx of indentured labor – peaking between the late 1830s and early 1860 – settled permanently creating massive population growth of more than 7% a year and reshaping the island’s social and cultural composition. While Indians represented about 12% of Mauritius’ population in 1837, they and their descendants accounted for roughly two-thirds by the end of the 19th century. Most were Hindus, but the majority of the free Indian traders were Muslims.
Mauritius again turned to overseas labor when its success in clothing and textile exports led to a labor shortage in the mid-1980s. Clothing manufacturers brought in contract workers (increasingly women) from China, India, and, to a lesser extent Bangladesh and Madagascar, who worked longer hours for lower wages under poor conditions and were viewed as more productive than locals. Downturns in the sugar and textile industries in the mid-2000s and a lack of highly qualified domestic workers for Mauritius’ growing services sector led to the emigration of low-skilled workers and a reliance on skilled foreign labor. Since 2007, Mauritius has pursued a circular migration program to enable citizens to acquire new skills and savings abroad and then return home to start businesses and to invest in the country’s development.

Age structure

0-14 years: 20.44% (male 140,808/female 134,826)
15-24 years: 15.06% (male 102,593/female 100,465)
25-54 years: 43.87% (male 295,794/female 295,719)
55-64 years: 11.37% (male 72,733/female 80,621)
65 years and over: 9.25% (male 50,888/female 73,795) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 40.6%
youth dependency ratio: 27.2%
elderly dependency ratio: 13.4%
potential support ratio: 7.4% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 34.8 years
male: 33.9 years
female: 35.8 years (2016 est.)

Birth rate

13.1 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

7 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)


urban population: 39.7% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: -0.08% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

PORT LOUIS (capital) 135,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.9 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.68 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

53 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 10 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 11.9 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 75.6 years
male: 72.2 years
female: 79.2 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.75 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Health expenditures

4.8% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

1.62 physicians/1,000 population (2013)

Hospital bed density

3.4 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source

urban: 99.9% of population
rural: 99.8% of population
total: 99.9% of population
urban: 0.1% of population
rural: 0.2% of population
total: 0.1% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 93.9% of population
rural: 92.6% of population
total: 93.1% of population
urban: 6.1% of population
rural: 7.4% of population
total: 6.9% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.88% (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

8,200 (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

400 (2015 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

18.8% (2014)

Education expenditures

5% of GDP (2015)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90.6%
male: 92.9%
female: 88.5% (2015 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 15 years
male: 15 years
female: 16 years (2014)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 25.1%
male: 20.1%
female: 32.6% (2014 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Mauritius
conventional short form: Mauritius
local long form: Republic of Mauritius
local short form: Mauritius
note: island named after Prince Maurice VAN NASSAU, stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, in 1598

Government type

parliamentary republic


name: Port Louis
geographic coordinates: 20 09 S, 57 29 E
time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

9 districts and 3 dependencies*; Agalega Islands*, Black River, Cargados Carajos Shoals*, Flacq, Grand Port, Moka, Pamplemousses, Plaines Wilhems, Port Louis, Riviere du Rempart, Rodrigues*, Savanne


12 March 1968 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 12 March (1968); note - also became Republic Day (1992)


several previous; latest adopted 12 March 1968; amended many times, last in 2015 (2016)

Legal system

civil legal system based on French civil law with some elements of English common law

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: yes
citizenship by descent: yes
dual citizenship recognized: yes
residency requirement for naturalization: 5 out of the previous 7 years including the last 12 months


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Ameenah GURIB-FAKIM (since 5 June 2015); Vice President Paramaslyum (aka Barlen) Pillay VYAPOORY (since 4 April 2016)
head of government: Prime Minister Sir Anerood JUGNAUTH (since 17 December 2014)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers (Council of Ministers) appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister
elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected by the National Assembly for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 4 June 2015 (next to be held in 2020); prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president, responsible to the National Assembly
election results: Ameenah GURIB-FAKIM (independent) elected president by the National Assembly - unanimous vote

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (70 seats maximum; 62 members directly elected in single- and multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and up to 8 seats allocated to non-elected party candidates by the Electoral Commissioner's Office to ensure fair and adequate representation of each community and party in the Assembly, as outlined in the Constitution; members serve 5-year terms)
elections: last held on 10 December 2014 (next to be held by 2019); note - the National Assembly was dissolved on 6 October 2014, resulting in early elections
election results: percent of vote by party - Alliance Lepep 49.8%, PTR-MMM 38.5%, FSM 2.1%, OPR 1.1%, other 8.5%; elected seats by party - Alliance Lepep 47, PTR-MMM 13, OPR 2; appointed seats Alliance Lepep 4, PTR-MMM 3

Political pressure groups and leaders

Lalit Political Party
Rezistans ek Alternativ (Resistance and Alternative)
Say No to Coal!
other: various labor unions

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court of Mauritius (consists of the chief justice, a senior puisne judge, and 17 puisne judges); note - the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London) serves as the final court of appeal
judge selection and term of office: chief justice appointed by the president after consultation with the prime minister; senior puisne judge appointed by the president with the advice of the chief justice; other puisne judges appointed by the president with the advice of the Judicial and Legal Commission, a 4-member body of judicial officials including the chief justice; all judges serve until retirement at age 62
subordinate courts: Court of Civil Appeal; Court of Criminal Appeal; Public Bodies Appeal Tribunal

National symbol(s)

dodo bird, Trochetia Boutoniana flower; national colors: red, blue, yellow, green

Political parties and leaders

Alliance Lepep (Alliance of the People) [Sir Anerood JUGNAUTH] (coalition including MSM, PMSD, and ML)
Labor Party (Parti Travailliste) or PTR or MLP [Navinchandra RAMGOOLAM]
Mauritian Militant Movement (Mouvement Militant Mauricien) or MMM [Paul BERENGER]
Mauritian Social Democratic Party (Parti Mauricien Social Democrate) or PMSD [Xavier Luc DUVAL]
Mauritian Solidarity Front (Front Solidarite Mauricienne) or FSM [Cehl FAKEERMEEAH, known as Cehl MEEAH]
Militant Socialist Movement (Mouvement Socialist Mauricien) or MSM [Pravind JUGNAUTH]
Muvman Liberater or ML [Ivan COLLENDAVELLOO]
Rodrigues Peoples Organization (Organisation du Peuple Rodriguais) or OPR [Serge CLAIR]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Sooroojdev PHOKEER (since 3 August 2015)
chancery: 1709 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20036; administrative offices at 3201 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 441, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 244-1491 through 1492
FAX: [1] (202) 966-0983

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Melanie ZIMMERMAN (since 2016); note - also accredited to Seychelles
embassy: 4th Floor, Rogers House, John Kennedy Avenue, Port Louis
mailing address: international mail: P.O. Box 544, Port Louis; US mail: American Embassy, Port Louis, US Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-2450
telephone: [230] 202-4400
FAX: [230] 208-9534

Flag description

four equal horizontal bands of red (top), blue, yellow, and green; red represents self-determination and independence, blue the Indian Ocean surrounding the island, yellow has been interpreted as the new light of independence, golden sunshine, or the bright future, and green can symbolize either agriculture or the lush vegetation of the island

National anthem

name: "Motherland"
lyrics/music: Jean Georges PROSPER/Philippe GENTIL
note: adopted 1968


Industrial production growth rate

2.8% (2016 est.)

Economy - overview

Since independence in 1968, Mauritius has undergone a remarkable economic transformation from a low-income, agriculturally based economy to a diversified, upper middle-income economy with growing industrial, financial, and tourist sectors. Mauritius has a

The economy currently rests on sugar, tourism, textiles and apparel, and financial services, but is expanding into fish processing, information and communications technology, and hospitality and property development. Sugarcane is grown on about 90% of the

Mauritius' sound economic policies and prudent banking practices helped to mitigate negative effects of the global financial crisis in 2008-09. GDP grew in the 3-4% per year range in 2010-16, and the country continues to expand its trade and investment ou

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$25.85 billion (2016 est.)
$24.97 billion (2015 est.)
$24.12 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$11.74 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

3.5% (2016 est.)
3.5% (2015 est.)
3.6% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$20,500 (2016 est.)
$19,800 (2015 est.)
$19,200 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

15.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
16.3% of GDP (2015 est.)
17% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 74%
government consumption: 14.4%
investment in fixed capital: 17.3%
investment in inventories: 3.4%
exports of goods and services: 50.7%
imports of goods and services: -59.8% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 4%
industry: 22.1%
services: 73.9% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

sugarcane, tea, corn, potatoes, bananas, pulses; cattle, goats; fish


food processing (largely sugar milling), textiles, clothing, mining, chemicals, metal products, transport equipment, nonelectrical machinery, tourism

Labor force

624,700 (2016 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture and fishing: 9%
construction and industry: 30%
transportation and communication: 7%
trade, restaurants, hotels: 22%
finance: 6%
other services: 25% (2007)

Unemployment rate

7.8% (2016 est.)
8% (2015 est.)

Population below poverty line

8% (2006 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Distribution of family income - Gini index

35.9 (2012 est.)
39 (2006 est.)


revenues: $2.478 billion
expenditures: $2.95 billion (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

21.1% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-4% of GDP (2016 est.)

Public debt

66% of GDP (2016 est.)
63.7% of GDP (2015 est.)

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.1% (2016 est.)
1.3% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

9% (31 December 2010)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

8.3% (31 December 2016 est.)
8.5% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$2.743 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$2.547 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$12.6 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$12.15 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$13.96 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$13.28 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$7.239 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$8.751 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$8.942 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Current account balance

-$509 million (2016 est.)
-$562 million (2015 est.)


$2.676 billion (2016 est.)
$2.685 billion (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

clothing and textiles, sugar, cut flowers, molasses, fish, primates (for research)

Exports - partners

UK 13.2%, UAE 12.4%, France 11.9%, US 10.7%, South Africa 8.6%, Madagascar 6.5%, Italy 5.4%, Spain 4.4% (2015)


$4.355 billion (2016 est.)
$4.526 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

manufactured goods, capital equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals

Imports - partners

India 18.7%, China 17.8%, France 7.1%, South Africa 6.5%, Vietnam 4.4% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$4.526 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$4.26 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Debt - external

$10.89 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$10.62 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home


Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad


Exchange rates

Mauritian rupees (MUR) per US dollar -
35.56 (2016 est.)
35.057 (2015 est.)
35.057 (2014 est.)
30.622 (2013 est.)
30.05 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

electrification - total population: 100% (2016)

Electricity - production

2.8 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

2.6 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

1.1 million kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

96.5% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

3.3% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0.2% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

25,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

25,960 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

5.4 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 380,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 28 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 1.762 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 132 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: small system with good service
domestic: monopoly over fixed-line services terminated in 2005; fixed-line teledensity roughly 25 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular services launched in 1989 with current teledensity roughly 130 per 100 persons
international: country code - 230; landing point for the SAFE submarine cable that provides links to Asia and South Africa where it connects to the SAT-3/WASC submarine cable that provides further links to parts of East Africa, and Europe; satellite earth station - 1 In (2015)

Broadcast media

the government maintains control over TV broadcasting through the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), which operates 3 analog and 10 digital TV stations; MBC is a shareholder in a local company that operates 2 pay-TV stations; the state retains the (2007)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 672,000
percent of population: 50.1% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 13
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 1,466,527
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 168.773 million mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

3B (2016)


5 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 1 (2013)


total: 2,149 km
paved: 2,149 km (includes 75 km of expressways) (2012)

Merchant marine

total: 4
by type: passenger/cargo 2, petroleum tanker 1, refrigerated cargo 1 (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Port Louis


Military branches

no regular military forces; Mauritius Police Force, Special Mobile Force, National Coast Guard

Military expenditures

0.19% of GDP (2012)
0.16% of GDP (2011)
0.19% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Mauritius and Seychelles claim the Chagos Islands; claims French-administered Tromelin Island

Trafficking in persons

current situation: Mauritius is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; Mauritian girls are induced or sold into prostitution, often by peers, family members, or businessmen offering other forms of employment; Mauritian adults have been identified as labor trafficking victims in the UK, Belgium, and Canada, while Mauritian women from Rodrigues Island are also subject to domestic servitude in Mauritius; Malagasy women transit Mauritius en route to the Middle East for jobs as domestic servants and subsequently are subjected to forced labor; Cambodian men are victims of forced labor on foreign fishing vessels in Mauritius’ territorial waters; other migrant workers from East and South Asia and Madagascar are also subject to forced labor in Mauritius’ manufacturing and construction sectors
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Mauritius does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; in 2014, the government made modest efforts to address child sex trafficking but none related to adult forced labor; law enforcement lacks an understanding of trafficking crimes outside of child sex trafficking, despite increasing evidence of other forms of human trafficking; authorities made no trafficking prosecutions or convictions and made modest efforts to assist a couple of child sex trafficking victims; officials sustained an extensive public awareness campaign to prevent child sex trafficking, but no efforts were made to raise awareness or reduce demand for forced adult or child labor (2015)

Illicit drugs

consumer and transshipment point for heroin from South Asia; small amounts of cannabis produced and consumed locally; significant offshore financial industry creates potential for money laundering, but corruption levels are relatively low and the government appears generally to be committed to regulating its banking industry