Mauritius

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Discovered by the Portuguese in 1505, Mauritius was subsequently held by the Dutch, French, and British before independence 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 earned one of Africa's highest per capita incomes. Recent protests over standards of living in the Creole community have slowed economic growth.

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 remarkable achievement has been reflected in increased life expectancy, lowered infant mortality, and a much improved infrastructure. Sugarcane is grown on about 90% of the cultivated land area and accounts for 25% of export earnings. A record-setting drought severely damaged the sugar crop in 1999, however. The government's development strategy centers on foreign investment. Mauritius has attracted more than 9,000 offshore entities, many aimed at commerce in India and South Africa, and investment in the banking sector alone has reached over $1 billion. Economic performance in 1991-99 continued strong with solid growth and low unemployment.

Originally from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the U.S. Department of State website. Not Wikified.