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
arable land, fish
Population - distribution
population density is one of the highest in the world; urban cluster are found throught the main island, with a greater density in and around Port Luis; population on Rodrigues Island is spread across the island with a slightly denser cluster on the north coast
Creole 86.5%, Bhojpuri 5.3%, French 4.1%, two languages 1.4%, other 2.6% (includes English, the official language of the National Assembly, which is spoken by less than 1% of the population), unspecified 0.1% (2011 est.)
PORT LOUIS (capital) 135,000 (2014)
- Conventional long form
- Republic of Mauritius
- Conventional short form
- Local long form
- Republic of Mauritius
- Local short form
- Port Louis
- Geographic coordinates
- 20 09 S, 57 29 E
- Time difference
- UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
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 achieved steady growth over the last several decades, resulting in more equitable income distribution, increased life expectancy, lowered infant mortality, and a much-improved infrastructure.
- External debt stocks
- US$ 14,642,543,000
- Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
- Real Interest Rate
- Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
- Current Account Balance
- US$ -587,297,608
- Labor Force, Total
- Employment in Agriculture
- Employment in Industry
- Employment in Services
- Unemployment Rate
- Imports of goods and services
- US$ 6,881,394,997
- Exports of goods and services
- US$ 5,728,576,848
- Total Merchandise Trade
- FDI, net inflows
- US$ 208,290,139
- Commercial Service Exports
- US$ 2,802,122,872
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
- clothing and textiles, sugar, cut flowers, molasses, fish, primates (for research)
- 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)
- manufactured goods, capital equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals
- India 18.7%, China 17.8%, France 7.1%, South Africa 6.5%, Vietnam 4.4% (2015)
- Country Risk Rating
- Changes in generally good but somewhat volatile political and economic environment can affect corporate payment behavior. A basically secure business environment can nonetheless give rise to occasional difficulties for companies. Corporate default probability is quite acceptable on average.
- Business Climate Rating
- The business environment is relatively good. Although not always available, corporate financial information is usually reliable. Debt collection and the institutional framework may have some shortcomings. Intercompany transactions may run into occasional difficulties in the otherwise secure environments rated A3.
- Strong tourism potential
- English/French bilingualism
- Strong banking system
- Effective democratic institutions and governance
- Trading and economic reliance on Europe (tourism, construction)
- Infrastructure weaknesses in some regions
- Lack of skilled workers
The Mauritius economy, which is based around four key sectors (tourism, textiles, sugar, and finance) is dominated by services (more than 70% of GDP). Despite diversification efforts aimed at attracting travelers from other countries, the island's economy is heavily reliant on that of European countries, the origin of two-thirds of tourists, many of them French (more than 20%) and British (over 10%). Modest European growth means that tourist numbers are not predicted to rise, especially post-Brexit. As a consequence, activity in the tourism services sector and in construction looks set to be fairly flat.
The amendment of provisions in the double taxation agreement agreed with India in May 2016, increasing the tax Indian investors are liable to pay, might be a burden on investment flows, particularly in the financial sector. Exports (sugar, textiles) are forecast to suffer from weak demand in Europe, limiting the contribution foreign trade makes to growth.
However, a relatively expansionary budget policy should mitigate the downturn in activity by supporting specific sectors in the framework of an economic diversification program.
Inflation might increase due to a slight rise in the price of imported oil, but is expected to remain moderate. Monetary policy should therefore remain loose (interest rate below 4%) and encourage domestic demand.
Budget policy is expected to be relatively expansionary to try to offset the impacts of Brexit on economic activity. The State will likely intervene in the completion of infrastructure projects, particularly in the transport sector, and support the development of new sectors (film industry) as part of its economic diversification program. This rise in spending will probably not be offset by a rise in tax receipts because the State has announced tax cuts, especially for companies, and because the economic slowdown, although small, will probably hold back tax revenues. However, grants, in particular from India, should help to finance some projects. The budget deficit will therefore probably rise a little, but remain under control. Public debt is expected to continue to rise, but the profile of the debt – mostly concessional – greatly reduces the risk of over indebtedness.
The current account balance is also expected to deteriorate in 2017. Exports (textiles, sugar) might suffer due to modest demand in Europe (55% of exports, of which 30% go to France and the UK) and a lack of competitiveness in the British market, with the fall in value of sterling. The prices of energy and food products, which form a large proportion of the island's imports, will probably not fall. Infrastructure projects will also require imports of capital goods.
Mauritius's financial system is robust and demonstrated its resilience after the collapse of the BAI group in 2015. Capitalization is satisfactory, but the ratio of non-performing loans, although still quite low, is rising (8% in 2016 compared with 5% in 2015). The consequences of Brexit and the changes to the double taxation agreement with India could be a burden on the sector, but should not undermine its stability.
The island of Mauritius is an established democracy. The parliamentary elections of December 2014 saw Sir Anerood Jugnauth (aged 86) return as Prime Minister, having previously occupied the same role in 1982-1995 and 2000-2003, and the role of President (2003-2012). The three-party coalition that he represents, Lepep, has a comfortable majority in parliament. In late 2016, A. Jugnauth announced his decision to step down before the next elections, scheduled for 2019 or 2020. His son Pravind Jugnauth will probably stand to succeed him but does not enjoy unanimous support within Lepep. Dissent within the coalition might slow the implementation of reforms, although it shouldn't threaten political stability. The population have high expectations, given inequality and the rise in employment (7%). Lack of progress in these areas could fuel protest movements.
Lastly, Mauritius enjoys effective governance and a favorable business climate. Its governance indicators are among the highest of Sub-Saharan African countries, according to the World Bank.