About Mauritius

Description

Mauritius was a French colony for nearly a century (from 1715 to 1810) before being seized by the British after a naval battle. Although the small island in the Indian Ocean gained its independence in 1968, English has remained the official language while the French language is widely spoken by all the strata of the cosmopolitan population consisting of 1.2 million inhabitants of African, Chinese, Indian and European descent.

Due to its strategic location in the middle of the Indian Ocean, about 2,000 km off the South East coast of Africa, Mauritius is positioning itself as a regional hub on the route between Asia and Africa. During financial year 2005/06, 80,720 TEUs out of a total traffic of 254,447 TEUs containers, were trans-shipped in the harbour of Port Louis.

The trans-shipped containers are routed to neighbouring Indian Ocean islands as well as to Southern and Eastern parts of Africa through the Freeport. Containers loaded with mechanical or electronic spare parts and textile accessories are imported from South East Asian countries. Bulk breaking, processing and re-assortment are then carried out in the Freeport before the containers are re-exported to COMESA (Common African Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) and SADC (Southern African Development Community) countries. As Mauritius is a member of these regional economic blocs, it offers preferential access to a potential market of more than 425 million consumers.

On the local front, the economy of the island has come to a crossroads as two of its economic pillars (sugar and textile products) no longer benefit from preferential access to the European Union, following World Trade Organisation guidelines. During the past 2 years, several textile factories have closed down, moving to cheaper labour countries such as China, Madagascar or Bangladesh, triggering a drop in the number of exported containers from 93,961 TEUs in financial year 2003/ 04 to 87,323 TEUs during 2005/ 06. However, the government has undertaken since the beginning of the 80's to diversify economic activities. Emphasis has now shifted to tourism as the driving force of the economy but also to financial services and emerging Information Technology-based services.

Furthermore, the Seafood Hub of Mauritius is expected to attract investment of more than 34 million euros during the next two years. Mauritius offers an integrated logistics platform for the transhipment, warehousing, processing and re-export of seafood products. The cold storage facilities of more than 80,000 m3 stand out as the largest in the Indian Ocean and adhere to the European Union standards as well as to the HACCP system.

FACTS & FIGURES - MAURITIUS

  • Official name: Republic of Mauritius
  • Capital: Port Louis
  • Form of government: Democratic government modelled on the British system of parliamentary democracy, which guarantees the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers.
  • Area: 1,865 square kilometres
  • Coastline: About 150 kilometres
  • Population: 1.2 million
  • Ethnic groups: People of European, African, Indian and Chinese origins have created a multiracial society living in harmony
  • Languages: English (official language), French, Creole (a mixture of French and African languages), Hindi, Urdu, Chinese...
  • Major trading partners: China, France, India, Australia and South Africa