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You are in:  Nations > Africa > Mauritius
Mauritius*Mauritius flag
Basic facts
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The country 
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Capital: Port Louis
Area: 2,040 sq km; 788 sq miles
Population: 1,196,172 (2000 Estimate)
Urbanisation: Urban 41 per cent (1998 Estimate); Rural 59 per cent (1998 Estimate)
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Economy

Exports: Textiles, sugar, light manufactured goods, clothing, precious stones

Industry: Food processing (largely sugar milling), textiles, clothing, chemicals, metal products, transport equipment, non-electrical machinery, tourism

Agriculture: Principal products: tea, maize, potatoes, bananas, pulses, cattle, goats, fish

Currency: 1 Mauritian rupee (MauR), consisting of 100 cents

Natural resources: Arable land, fish

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The people

Ethnic: Indian Mauritian 68 per cent, Creole 27 per cent, Chinese Mauritian 3 per cent, French Mauritian 2 per cent

Language: English (official), Creole, French, Hindi, Urdu, Hakka, Bhojpuri, other. English is the official language of Mauritius, but it is not spoken much in day-to-day communication. French and English are used in government and business. Road signs are in English, and most newspapers and media communications are in French. Creole, which is spoken by 90 per cent of the population, was developed in the 18th century by slaves who used a pidgin language to communicate with each other as well as with their French masters, who did not understand the various African languages. The pidgin evolved with later generations to become a useful, casual language. Other languages spoken in Mauritius include Hindi, Urdu, Hakka (a Chinese dialect) and Bojpoori (also written "Bhojpuri"), which is an amalgamation of several Indian dialects spoken by the early Indian settlers. Most Mauritians are at least bilingual.

Religion: Hindu 52 per cent, Christian 28 per cent, Muslim 17 per cent, Buddhist and other 3 per cent. Slightly more than half the population is Hindu, although there are two main sects: the Sanathan Hindus, who accept the existence of three primary gods and various secondary gods and the Arya Samajists, who recognize the existence of only one god. Important to all Hindus are the principles of reincarnation, karma (the force generated by one's actions that determines one's next incarnation) and the illusory state of mortal life. About 30 per cent of the people are Christian (mostly Roman Catholic) and about 17 per cent are Muslim. Many of Chinese descent are Buddhist.

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The history

Independence: 12 March 1968 (from the United Kingdom). Independence from the United Kingdom was finally granted in March 1968 and Sir Seewoosager Ramgoolam became the nation's first Prime Minister. In 1992 the country became a republic, although it remains in the Commonwealth. The country has practically no army and has been politically stable since independence. Most governments have been coalitions. The 1991 elections returned to power Anerood Jugnauth, who became Prime Minister in 1982. The ruling coalition, after a split in February 1995, is made up of the Mauritian Social Democratic Party.

Government: Since the country became a republic in 1992, the head of state has been the President, Cassam Uteem. The head of Government is the Prime Minister, a position held by Anerood Jugnauth since 1982. The Legislative Assembly has a maximum of 70 members, 62 of whom are directly elected every five years. The voting age is 18. Mauritius is divided into nine districts and three dependencies. Local councils govern in urban areas.

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