Middle East / Africa

Mauritius flag
Summary | Profile

Country profile: Mauritius

Location: Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar
Climate: tropical, modified by southeast trade winds; warm, dry winter (May to November); hot, wet, humid summer (November to May)
Terrain: small coastal plain rising to discontinuous mountains encircling central plateau
Size: 2040 sq. km total (Land area: 2030 sq. km  Water area: 10 sq.km)
Population: 1,274,189 (July 2008 est.)
Languages: Creole 80.5%, Bhojpuri 12.1%, French 3.4%, English (official; spoken by less than 1% of the population), other 3.7%, unspecified 0.3% (2000 census)
Government: parliamentary democracy
Capital city: Port Louis
Legal system: based on French civil law system with elements of English common law in certain areas; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations
Currency: Mauritian rupee (MUR)
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Country profile

The Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC), which evolved into the Southern African Development Community (SADC) , has been in existence since 1980. The original nine member-countries were Angola , Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. South Africa joined SADC in 1994 followed by Mauritius (1995), and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC, 1997). In 2005, SADC granted Madagascar membership. In addition to belonging to SADC, Angola, DRC, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe are members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

Although known to Arab and Malay sailors as early as the 10th century, Mauritius was first explored by the Portuguese in 1505; it 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 poor weather, declining sugar prices, and declining textile and apparel production, have slowed economic growth, leading to some protests over standards of living in the Creole community.

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