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Mauritius

Mauritius

Summary

The small island country of Mauritius gained independence from the UK in 1968. Foreign investment is one of the main pillars of the economy, leading to Mauritius having one of the most stable economies in the African region. The isolated location of the island off the coast of Madagascar has led to the country emergence as a hub for human trafficking. Children, especially females, are among those most endangered by this practice. Rising sea levels have caused issues like shrinking shorelines.1 1 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mp.html

Demographics

Nationality
Mauritian
Population
1,322,238 (July 2013 est.)
Ethnic Groups
Languages
Religions

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Environment
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Family
Animals

Environment

The island landscape of Mauritius is vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Rising sea levels and erosion threaten beaches, shrinking some shorelines by as much as ten meters. The government has started to bolster the beaches with boulders in an attempt to create a natural defense against erosion.1 The government recently announced that there will be a 50% tax reduction on hybrid/electric cars.2

Human Rights

The largest human rights concern for Mauritius is human trafficking. The government is taking measures to reduce the vulnerability of children to this issue, but many young people remain exposed to the dangers of kidnapping and forced sex labor. Offenders who violate the laws related to human trafficking face up to 15 years in prison.1 Despite this, recent human rights abuses have included police abuse of suspects and detainees, arbitrary arrests, and overcrowded prisons.2

Education

Education in Mauritius is compulsory and free from ages five to 16, and consists of primary and secondary schooling. Depending on each student’s performance on exams, they can either go to vocational school or continue their academic studies for their final years of education. One of the issues facing the system is the dropout rate for secondary school. 97% of eligible students enroll in primary school, while only 72% continue with secondary education.1 As of 2018, the literacy rate in Mauritius was at 92%.3

Poverty

Even though the island is extremely small, there are slight regional variations in poverty. More female-headed households are poverty stricken. The poverty rate for Mauritius is determined to be at 8%.1 In an effort to provide jobs and improve living conditions, there are a variety of Indian-sponsored development projects underway in the country, including a Metro Express Project, Early Digital Learning Program, and other infrastructure building projects.2

Religion

Approximately 48.5% of the country’s population is Hindu, followed by Roman Catholic (26%) and Muslim (17%).1 The country’s constitution protects freedom of religion, and this is generally enforced by the government and society. Reports of religious discrimination and conflict are largely nonexistent.2

Clean Water

Approximately 99% of the population has access to clean drinking water and 93% of the population has access to improved sanitation infrastructure.2 Over half of the water supply is provided by groundwater, and the rest is provided by streams and lakes. Tap water quality varies greatly by location, so it is recommended that visitors drink only bottled water.2

Economy

Mauritius is economically reliant on profits created by sugar, tourism, textiles, financial services, and apparel. The public debt is 66% of GDP. The country’s main trade partners include China, India, France, and the UK. The unemployment rate in Mauritius is currently at 7%, and 8% of the population lives below the poverty line.1 Economic freedom is an area in which Mauritius is currently considered a regional leader. The island is also beginning to engage more in global commerce.2

Government

The Republic of Mauritius is a parliamentary democracy. The prime minister is head of government, and the president is the chief of state who also appoints the cabinet. The country has a long history of stable democracy that regularly conducts free and transparent elections.1 Transparency International ranks the country 54th out of 180 countries, while the public scores their government 50 out of a possible 100 for perceived corruption.2

Health

The majority of diseases reported in Mauritius are non-communicable diseases. The most common cause of death among Mauritians is cardiovascular disease, closely followed by diabetes and then cancer.1 The average life expectancy is 76 years of age, and the government spends 4.8% of GDP on healthcare. The infant mortality rate is 9.8 deaths per 1,000 live births, and the maternal mortality rate is 53 deaths per 100,000 live births. 10% of the adult population is obese.2

Children

Mauritius has been labeled as a primary source country for child trafficking. Girls in secondary school are the ones most in danger of being forced into prostitution, under the guise of obtaining meaningful employment overseas. In some cases, family members sell their daughters into prostitution in order to receive money. The CIA places Mauritius on the Tier 2 (of 3) watchlist for human trafficking.1 The United States Department of Labor found that Mauritius had made little to no progress towards the eradication of child labor practices in 2016. The most common form of child labor on the island is prostitution, but there are also children who work in shops or in minor agricultural enterprises.2

Family

There are no official statistics available for domestic violence in Mauritius, but the country does have a toll-free, state-sponsored hotline for abuse victims that was officially opened in 2016.1

Animals

Mauritius is one of the Mascarene islands, located in the critically endangered Afrotropical region. This ecoregion is characterized by coastal wetlands and lowland dry forest, as well as palm savannah. Experts estimate that there are 955 species of plants on the islands. Many species can also be found on Madagascar or in Africa, and a small portion are from Asia. Local birdlife includes the Mascarene paradise-flycatcher, Mascarene swiftlet, and Mascarene grey white-eye. Notable reptiles include the Round Island keel-scaled boa, Round Island skink, and Round Island burrowing boa. There are also habitats for hawksbill turtles for nesting.1

Mauritius

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