Mauritius

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Mauritius is an island nation of 2040 square km, considered part of Africa, in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar.[1] It is a parliamentary democracy that became independent of the United Kingdom in 1968, with a good record in free elections and human rights. While its own Creole is the traditional language, English is widely spoken, as is French; both are taught as part of public education.

History

Known to Arab and Malay sailors as early as the 10th century, it was first explored by Portugal the 16th century and subsequently settled by the Netherlands, who named it in honor of Prince Maurice of Nassau (Maurits van Nassau) in the 17th century. The French assumed control in 1715, but lost it to the British, during the Napoleonic Wars, in 1810.

Government

The legal system is a combination of French civil law with some English common law.

Its chief of state, the President of Mauritius, is elected by the unicameral National Assembly. The National Assembly has 70 seats, with 62 members elected by popular vote and 8 appointed by the election commission to give representation to various ethnic minorities. Elections were last held in 2005, and due again in 2010.

The President is Sir Anerood Jugnauth, who was reelected unanimously after assuming office in 2003.

Prime Minister of Mauritius, Navinchandra Ramgoolam has been head of government since 2005.

Mauritius is involved in international organizations and nongovernmental organizations. Dheerujlall Seetulsingh is a member of the expert advisory committee to the UN Human Rights Council. Cassam Uteem who was President from 1992 to 2002, is in the NGO, Global Leadership Foundation.

Economy

Its economic development has been unusually effective for a relatively new country, with a 5-6% annual growth rate that has taken it into the middle-income range. The economy is diverse, with growth in industrial, financial, and tourist sectors. For most of the period, annual growth has been in the order of 5% to 6%. It went from a per capita income, at independence, of about USD $260[2] to a World Bank figure US$5,250, the second highest in sub-Saharan Africa, with good social indicators. The CIA 2008 estimate is $12,000.

The World Bank expressed concerns on its economic and social challenges as it moves to open competition in the world economy. Its key requirements are to "boost economic growth through higher productivity; develop human capital through education reform to raise skill levels; and promote new emerging sectors and move Mauritius to a more knowledge-based economy while preserving its longstanding commitment to social welfare." The country, for example, has universal health care with a supplemental private medical system.

The economy rests on sugar, tourism, textiles and apparel, and financial services, and is expanding into fish processing, information and communications technology, and hospitality and property development. Sugarcane is grown on about 90% of the cultivated land area and accounts for 15% of export earnings. The government's development strategy centers on creating vertical and horizontal clusters of development in these sectors.

Its location has attracted foreign business, with the financial sector having had investment in excess of USD $1 billion. Over 32,000 offshore entities, many aimed at commerce in India, South Africa, and China, are present. The World Bank has rated it one of the top 20 economies for ease of doing business, and the best in subsaharan Africa. [3]

It is in a partnership agreement with the World Bank.

Information technology

It is a meeting point for optical submarine cables, at present SAFE submarine cable to Asia and South Africa , and the SAT-3-WASC submarine cable to parts of East Africa. Other links are under consideration.

The African Network Information Center (AfriNIC), the regional Internet address registry is headquartered in Mauritius, linked to specialized centers in South Africa, Egypt, and Ghana.[4]

Civil society

Even before independence, Mauritius created the Mauritius Council of Social Services to coordinate the activities of non-governmental organizations. With globalization and industrialization, the country is working with the Mauritius Council of NGOs (MACOSS) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), [5], starting in 2001, with efforts to improve the effectiveness of NGOs.

Military

Mauritius has no military, only police and coast guard.

References