Mauritius Travel Information

Photo Discovered by the Portuguese in 1505, Mauritius 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 and declining sugar prices have slowed economic growth leading to some protests over standards of living in the Creole community.

While Arab and Malay sailors knew of Mauritius as early as the 10th century AD and Portuguese sailors first visited in the 16th century, the island was not colonized until 1638 by the Dutch. Mauritius was populated over the next few centuries by waves of traders, planters and their slaves, indentured laborers, merchants, and artisans. The island was named in honor of Prince Maurice of Nassau by the Dutch, who abandoned the colony in 1710.

Mauritius has one of the strongest economies in Africa, with a GDP of $4.5 billion in 2001 and per capita income close to $3,800. The economy has sustained high 6% annual growth rate for the last two decades--first driven by sugar, then textiles/apparel and tourism, and most recently by financial services. Independent assessments uniformly rank Mauritius as one of the most competitive economies in Africa. With a per capita income of U.S. $3,800, Mauritius is now classified as a middle-income country and ranks, on the basis of the recent Human Development Index for 173 countries, 67th globally, 40th among developing countries, and second in Africa.

Official U.S. representation in Mauritius dates from the end of the 18th century. An American consulate was established in 1794 but closed in 1911. It was reopened in 1967 and elevated to embassy status upon the country's independence in 1968. Since 1970, the mission has been directed by a resident U.S. ambassador.

Important: Travel to Mauritius may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's Mauritius visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: Republic of Mauritius
Capital city: Port Louis
Area: 2,040 sq km
Population: 1,313,095
Ethnic groups: Indo-Mauritian 68%, Creole 27%, Sino-Mauritian 3%, Franco-Mauritian 2%
Languages: Creole 80.5%, Bhojpuri 12.1%, French 3.4%, English
Religions: Hindu 48%, Roman Catholic 23.6%, Muslim 16.6%, other Christian 8.6%, other 2.5%, unspecified 0.3%, none 0.4%
Government: parliamentary democracy
Chief of State: President Rajkeswur Kailash PURRYAG
Head of Government: Prime Minister Navinchandra RAMGOOLAM
GDP: 19.29 billion
GDP per captia: 15,000
Annual growth rate: 4.1%
Inflation: 6.5%
Agriculture: sugarcane, tea, corn, potatoes, bananas, pulses
Major industries: food processing
Natural resources: arable land, fish
Location: Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar
Trade Partners - exports: UK 21.3%, France 17.8%, US 10.5%, Italy 8.1%, South Africa 7.7%, Spain 7.1%, Madagascar 6.2%
Trade Partners - imports: India 25.2%, China 13.6%, France 9.1%, South Africa 6.9%