A description of the island of Mauritius.
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  Mauritius There are many islands all over the world, and some of them are very well-known. Some of these islands include Jamaica, Crete, Taiwan and Bali. However, when most people hear of Mauritius, they do not know what it is or where it is. In fact, Mauritius is a small African nation that is characterized by a specific geography, a diverse population and different levels of development. Geographically, Mauritius is a small African island nation located in the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of Madagascar. It has a total area of 2,040 square kilometers, of which 2,030 square kilometers are land (almost 11 times the size of Washington D.C.) and 10 square kilometers are water. The Agalega Islands, the Cargados Carajos Shoals and Rodrigues are all located close to Mauritius. Mauritius, the main island, is volcanic in srcin, and is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs. The climate is tropical and modified by southeast trade winds. The winter is dry and warm, and the summer is hot and humid. Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius. Port Louis is the largest city with a population of 577,200 in the metro area. The country has a population of 1,240,827. Mauritius is a unique and interesting island with nice weather and a small population. Mauritius is ethnically, linguistically, and religiously diverse. It has four ethnic groups: Indo-Mauritians with 68 percent of the population, Creoles, with 27 percent, Sino-Mauritians, with three  percent and Franco-Mauritians, with two percent. English is spoken by less than one percent of the country, but it is the official language of government and school instruction. Creole is a regional French dialect spoken by 80.5 percent of the population. Bojpoori, spoken by 12.1 percent, is a language srcinally from parts of north-central and eastern India. French is spoken by 3.4 percent and  predominates in the media. Other languages make up 3.7 percent. Mauritian society has a high degree of religious tolerance. Mauritians often share in the observances of religious groups other than their own. Because of its many religions, it has twenty national holidays, and the government provides subsidies to all major religious groups. Hinduism is the largest religion, with 48 percent of the   population. Roman Catholics are 23.6 percent of the population, other Christians make up 8.6 percent and Muslims make up 16.6 percent. Other religions are 2.5 percent of the population, 0.3 percent are unspecified and 0.4 percent claim no religion. Mauritius is a culturally and religiously mixed country with a vibrant melting pot of inhabitants. Measurements of the development of Mauritius show differing levels of progress politically and economically. The government of Mauritius is a centrist, multi-party parliamentary democracy. Suffrage is universal upon 18 years of age. The constitution provides freedom of expression and of the  press. There is a high level of freedom, no political prisoners and an absence of political and communal violence. The newspapers and weeklies provide balanced coverage in several languages and are often critical of government opposition parties. There are over 30 papers and magazines in  publication. Economically, Mauritius is currently experiencing rapid growth. Since gaining independence in 1968, Mauritius has developed from a low-income, agriculturally based economy to a middle-income, diversified economy with growing industrial, financial and tourist sectors. Many companies relocate to Mauritius because of little government control over business and low tax rates. Over nine thousand offshore companies operate in the country, including many trading with India and South Africa. Economic investment in the banking sector equals over one billion dollars. Incomes are distributed fairly; however wealth is still concentrated among the elites, but there is no absolute  poverty. Ten percent of the population lives below the poverty line and the unemployment rate is 9.6  percent. Mauritius exports $1.949 billion and imports $2.507 billion yearly. Its main exports are sugar (grown on 90 percent of cultivated land), clothing, textiles, cut flowers and molasses. Its sugarcane exports equal 25 percent of total exports. The country has a strong textile sector. However, the economy is not sel f reliant. Food imports account for 25 percent of total imports. Mauritius’ main imports are manufactured goods, capital equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products and chemicals. Mauritius has a growing economy that is taking advantage of its strengths to compete on the global  market, but still has far to go to become wealthy. In conclusion, the small island country of Mauritius has a varied population and uneven rates of development. It is a democracy with growing political freedom and an ever-improving economy. If this small island nation can maintain its religious tolerance and continue to improve its self reliance and income distribution, then it will have a bright cultural, economic, and political future.
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