Republic of Mauritius

The Republic of Mauritius consists of a main island, Mauritius, and a group of small islands scattered in the South West Indian Ocean namely: Rodrigues, the Cargados carajos St. Brandon, Agalega, Tromelin and the Chagos Archipelago Diego Garcia. The total land area of the Republic of Mauritius is 2040 km2. It is surrounded by coral reefs and is situated at about 2000 km off the East coast of Africa.

Exclusive Economic Zone

The Marine Exclusive economic Zone of the Republic of Mauritius is about 2 million km2 . It extends approximately from latitude 10°S to 20°S and from longitude 55° to 75°E.




Mauritius, an Indian Ocean island, is situated between latitudes 19°50’ south and 20°30’ south, and between longitudes 57°18’ east and 57°46’ east. It has a surface area of 1865 km2. The Island consists of an irregular Central Plateau surrounded by mountain ranges and plains. The Central Plateau has a mean elevation of about 300-400 m and rises to a maximum height of about 600 m in the South of the Island, the highest peak being 828 m. The Island is the result of four major volcanic activity periods between 7.8 million and 25 000 years ago.



Rodrigues lies between latitudes 19°40’ and 19°46’ south and longitudes 63°20’ and 63°30’ east at about 720 km to the North East of Mauritius. It is the youngest of the Mascarene islands, is hilly and rocky with the highest peak rising to about 398m. Like Mauritius, it is made up of basaltic lavas but is also covered by volcanic dust in some areas. There are small areas in the South and the East where sand blown by wind has accumulated to form limestone rocks. Caves are found in these areas.

St. Brandon

St Brandon forms part of the Cargados Carajos shoals that are made up of numerous sand banks and are situated about 350 km off the North North-East of Mauritius. The main islet, Raphael island, lies at latitude 16°27’ south and longitude 59°36’ east. These sand banks undergo marked changes in their shorelines under the effects of extreme weather.


Agalega is made up of two small islands: North and South Islands, found approximately 1000 km north of Mauritius. The two islands are separated by a strip of shallow water about 1 km wide. At low tide, it is possible to walk from one island to the other. North Island lies between latitudes 10°20’ and 10°25’ south and longitudes 56°34’ and 56°38’ east. It has an elongated shape, extending along a northwest-southeast axis and is approximately 1 km wide. South Island also extends in a northwest-southeast axis, is pear-shaped and lies between latitudes 10°26’ and 10°28’ south and longitudes 56°39’ and 56°42’ east. It is about 2 km at its widest part.


Mauritius was first visited by the Polynesians followed by the Arabs and the Portuguese. It was ultimately colonized by the Dutch on 20 September 1598 when Van Warwick took possession of the island and named it Mauritius. The first settlers arrived on the island, on 30 July 1638. The first birth was recorded on 14 November 1639. Sugar cane and the famous Javanese deer were introduced into the island during this period that also saw the extinction of the famous indigenous bird, the dodo. This period of colonization ended on the 16 of July 1658. 

The first Frenchman, Guillaume Dufresne D’Arsel on board ‘Le Chasseur’ landed at Baie du Tombeau on 27 August 1715. The French officially took possession of the island on 20 September 1715. Under their rule, large expanses of land were allocated to French citizens willing to set up sugar cane plantations and this was the first step leading to the establishment of the agricultural base of the country. Slave labour was imported from Africa and Madagascar to work in the sugar cane plantations.

In their quest to control the route to the east the British conquered the island from the French in 1810. Inclusion in the British empire did not affect the country’s agriculture, culture and laws, as agreed under the Treaty of Paris signed in 1814, and English became the official language in 1827. After the abolition of slavery in 1835, indentured labourers were brought in from India to work in the cane plantations. A period of continuous infrastructural development followed alongside the expansion of the sugar industry. The end of the 19th century saw a continuous struggle for social and economic emancipation that resulted in the establishment of health and educational facilities. These socio-economic improvements prepared the population and paved the way towards Independence. Mauritius and its outer islands became Independent on 12 March 1968 and was proclaimed a Republic in March 1992.

The Mauritius Independence Order, which established a self-governing state, came into force on 12 March 1968, and was subsequently amended. Constitutional amendments providing for the adoption of republican status were approved by the Legislative Assembly henceforth known as the National Assembly on 10 December 1991, and came into effect on 12 March 1992. The main provisions of the revised Constitution are:


Mauritius and Rodrigues

Mauritius and Rodrigues lie near the edge of the southern tropical belt and are free from the influence of large land masses or continents. They enjoy a mild maritime climate with summer extending from November to April and winter from June to September. May and October are transition months during which the weather is generally variable.

Both islands are swept by trade winds throughout the year, except for some short periods, in summer months when tropical depressions approach the island. The trades are stronger and more persistent in winter when strong anticyclones pass to the south and close to the Mascarenes the islands of Reunion, Mauritius and Rodrigues. In summer, the trades are weaker as the subtropical anticyclones become less intensive and migrate polewards.

Weather systems that affect Mauritius and Rodrigues


Weather over the Mascarenes is dominated by anticyclones migrating equatorwards, and then moving eastwards along the southern high latitudes, during most of the winter months. Anticyclones are areas of high pressure around which winds blow in a counterclockwise direction southern hemisphere. These anticyclones bring cold air over the region and at times can penetrate up to latitude 10° south.

Cold fronts, a belt of active weather with cold air replacing warm tropical air, cross the latitudes of the Mascarenes at a frequency of about one per week, giving rise to rainy and chilly weather with sudden significant drops in air temperature.

In between the anticyclones, cool and fine weather prevails when Mauritius remains in a region of light wind conditions. Trades, blowing in winter months, are very strong and gusts reaching more than 70 km h-1 are often recorded.


Weather remains under the influence of systems coming mainly from the east. The sub-tropical anticyclones migrate further towards the pole and weaken at the same time giving rise to lighter trades over the region.

Low pressure areas and waves in the easterlies from the equatorial region, are frequently observed in the vicinity of the region and adverse weather conditions occur when these systems affect Mauritius or Rodrigues.

The Inter Tropical Convergence Zone, ITZC, a belt of thundery weather where air masses from both hemispheres meet, usually lies between latitudes 08° and 15° south. It influences weather at times over the region, giving rise to torrential rains.

Tropical Cyclones

The cyclonic season officially starts on 1 November and ends on 15 May. On average, ten named tropical depressions are tracked in the South-West Indian Ocean and of these, three reach tropical cyclone intensity. On average one tropical cyclone passes within 100 km of Mauritius each year.

Formation / Classification of Tropical Cyclones

Tropical Cyclones usually form on the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone ITCZ. Small waves, on the ITCZ develop into vortices that sometimes intensify into tropical storms. They are named on reaching moderate intensity.

Classification of tropical storms
Class Maximum wind speed kmh-1
Tropical Storm          below 61 
Moderate Tropical Storm          62-88
Severe Tropical Storm          89-117
Tropical Cyclone          118-165
Intense Tropical Cyclone         166-212
Very Intense Tropical Cyclone          above 212

Tracking of Tropical Cyclones

Tropical cyclones are tracked through satellite imageries: the NOAA polar-orbiting satellite and the METEOSAT geo-stationary satellite. Another operational tool is the use of the traditional weather chart analysis. The accuracy of locating the center position from chart analysis is poor, especially in areas where data is sparse, such as the South West Indian Ocean. Information from world centres also help in the positioning of tropical cyclone centres. Furthermore, when tropical cyclones arrive within 400 km of Mauritius, tracking becomes more accurate through the use of a 10 cm weather radar.

Cyclone Warning System

Whenever a tropical cyclone threatens Mauritius or Rodrigues, cyclone warnings are issued to enable inhabitants to take necessary precautions. The cyclone warning system comprises four classes of warnings each being determined by the degree of risk of cyclonic conditions. These warnings are issued taking into consideration the lead time necessary for the population to take precautionary measures.

                                        Classes of warnings

Class I:  36-48 hours before Mauritius or Rodrigues is likely to be affected
Class II:  as far as practicable, 12 hours of daylight lead time before the occurrence of gusts of 120 Km hr-1
Class III:  as far as practicable, a lead time of 6 daylight hours before the advent of gusts of 120 Km hr-1
Class IV:  gusts of the order of 120 Km hr-1 have occurred and are expected to continue
These cyclone warnings are disseminated through the radio, television, telephone and the press. A visual form of warning is also used, the number of red flags hoisted on public buildings indicates the class of warning in force.


Mauritius and Rodrigues are exposed to the risks of tropical cyclones. The latter's future behaviour under expected climate change scenarios, especially their intensities and destructive forces are being projected to be more severe. The impacts of tropical cyclones on the economies of small island states are well-known. Increased severity may cause greater setbacks to these economies which would take more time to recover.

Climate parameters


Mauritius receives an annual average of 2100 mm of rain with about 70% of it occurring in summer. Strong insolation, light winds and moist and unstable airmass are the prerequisites for cloud development. Violent thunderstorms accompanied by heavy downpours commonly occur.

Tropical systems such as depressions, cyclones, and the ITCZ bring abundant rainfall spread over a number of days. This rainfall fills the reservoirs and replenishes the aquifers. The heavy thundershowers have a lesser contribution due to instantaneous runoff.

Winter rainfall, caused by the orographic ascent of the south-east trades, is mostly confined to the East, South and central plateau with the leeward side of the island remaining dry. Cold fronts passing over Mauritius from time to time bring appreciable amounts of rainfall.


Annual temperature distribution over Mauritius and Rodrigues are characterized by a mean maximum of 31°C along the northern and western coastal areas in December and January and a mean minimum temperature of about 14°C over the plateau in July and August. Absolute maximum and minimum temperatures recorded have been 37.5°C and 6.5°C respectively.



Short wave solar radiation varies from about 14 MJ m-2 day-1 in the uplands to about 19 MJ m-2 day-1 in the northern plains, i.e. from about 5000 to 7000 MJ m-2 year-1. The lowest amount of solar radiation is received during the month of June for most sites while the highest amount is received in December-January.

Agalega and St Brandon

Weather over these islands is dominated by the influx of warm and moist tropical airmasses for most of the year. The ITCZ is active and provokes heavy and often thundery showers. Occasionally, St Brandon suffers from the direct effects of tropical cyclones, so much that the configuration of the island rarely remains the same after their passage. Agalega is just off the path of these cyclones and is just brushed by their relatively weaker northern parts. On average one severe tropical cyclone visits St Brandon each season.

Cold air originating from the subtropical anticyclones to the South of the Mascarenes, invades these islands for about 2 months during winter when strong winds are observed in the low levels of the atmosphere.



The inhabitants of Mauritius are descendants of immigrants from the major continents that have peopled the world, namely Asia, Africa and Europe, and all the major religions such as Buddhism, Christianism, Hinduism and Islam are practised. This mosaic of races and cultures co-exist peacefully, making Mauritius a perfect example of social harmony. Mauritius is also multilingual with English and French as official languages. The oriental languages originating from India and China are also spoken and/or written by part of the population. The population of Rodrigues originates mainly from Africa.

At the end of 1995 the population of the Republic of Mauritius was estimated at 1 129 428 of whom 564 996 were males and 564 432 females. With 560 persons per km2, the country ranks high in population density. Urban population represents about 43.5% of the total population.

The population of Rodrigues and Agalega are 35 000 and 300 respectively while St Brandon is not permanently inhabited but only visited by fishermen.

Life expectancy 70 years is among the highest in Africa with males reaching 66 years and females 74 years. The population growth rate for the Republic has declined over time and stabilized at around 1% since the 1990s. Infant mortality rate continues to fall due to improvements in the health care system. It was around 22 per thousand in 1995.


Mauritius has established a comprehensive social welfare system with a wide range of assistance schemes such as old age pensions, basic widow’s pensions, basic invalid pension and other non-contributory social benefits to cater for the needy. There are programmes for poverty alleviation to ensure that the poor are not excluded from the mainstream of socio-economic development. The entire population has access to free medical services that has resulted in a very significant improvement in the health status of the population. Nearly 50% of the national budget is spent on the social sector.

The 1990 Population and Housing Census data indicated a general improvement in the living conditions of the population. The number of households having access to electricity and piped water has increased markedly to reach more than 90% in 1995.

Education and Training systems

The education system in Mauritius is a four-tiered one, consisting of the pre-primary, primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Mauritius is one of the few countries with free education from the pre-primary to the tertiary levels. Primary education is obligatory for all children between the ages of 4 and 11. Adult literacy rate is about 90%.

It should be noted that only 3% of the primary education population reach the tertiary level in Mauritius and have the possibility to study climate change issues. Such an important subject cannot be restricted to such a small percentage of the student population.

The Ministry of Education and Human Resources is laying strong emphasis to  further promote science subjects at different levels in the national curriculum. One of the main objectives of this policy is to raise awareness on climate change issues.

Professional and Vocational training are offered by other institutions which also raise public awareness on environment and climate issues in relation to specific areas of interest.

Professional and Vocational training institutions:

Main Islands: Mauritius, Rodrigues, Agalega, the Cargados carajos St. Brandon and the Chagos Archipelagos Diego Garcia .
Marine Exclusive Economic Zone 2 000 000 km2
TOTAL LAND AREA : 2040 km2
Mauritius Island Area 1865 km2
Temperature     Winter  140 C 600 m to 240C coast
                           Summer  190 C 600 m to 340 C coast
Independence  1968 12th  March
Republic  1992 12th  March
Population  1.1 Million
Population Growth rate  1.2%
Population Density  560 km-1
Life expectancy at birth  70 years
Adult literacy  90%
GNP  3424 US $
Economic growth past decade  6%
Crude death rate:  6.7 per thousand population
Crude birth rate:  18.2 per thousand population
Women participation rate 15 years and above 35%




A quarter of a century ago, some eminent economists rated quite bleakly the prospects for sustained development of the newly independent Mauritius. The economic fortune of Mauritus was, however, cast in other moulds. From an IDA-supported International Development Association economy caught in the Malthusian trap of overpopulation, Mauritius went on to record a robust average annual growth rate of 5.6% over the last 25 years. This sound performance has been attributed to many factors and, in particular, to the privileged access to European markets through the Lomé Convention and to the relentless commitment by successive governments to a consistent programme of economic reform and liberalization.

The Mauritian economy has undergone several distinct development phases and in the process, has successfully diversified from a mono-crop economy, highly dependent on the export of sugar, into manufacturing exports, tourism and more recently, services. With a per capita income of US $ 3442 in 1995 and a Human Development Index of 0.831, Mauritius was classified among the upper-middle income countries.

In 1995, the economy recorded a stable growth rate of 5.6%. The inflation rate was contained to a single-digit figure of 6%. The consumption to GDP ratio stabilized at around 77% resulting in a savings rate of 23% while the investment rate stood at 24%. On the international side, the current account deficit was around US $ 21 M, equivalent to some 0.6% of GDP. The stock of foreign reserves was sufficient to cover six months of imports. External debt stocks were relatively low at around 30% of GDP.
1. Population Mid – year 000
2. Per capita GNP MUR
3. GDP at current market prices MUR M
4. GDP at current factory cost MUR M
- Breakdown as a % of total 
Agric, hunting, forestry, fishing %
- Sugar %
Manufacturing %
- EPZ %
Construction %
Wholesale, Retail trade, Rest-& Hotels %
- Rest-& Hotels %
5. GDP annual growth rate %
6. Gross Domestic Savings MUR M
7. Savings Rate %
8. Investment GDFCF MUR M
9. Investment Rate %
10. Exports f.o.b Includes re-exports MUR M
- Sugar as a % of total %
- EPZ as a % of total %
11. Imports c.i.f MUR M
12. Visible trade balance MUR M
- 4536
- 6797
- 985
- 7037
13. Balance of payments MUR M
- 773
- 1895
14. Foreign Exchange Reserves MUR M
15. Total Labour Force 000
16. Employment March 000
- Agriculture as a % of total %
- Manufacturing as a % of total %
17. Unemployment 000
18. Unemployment rate %
19. Inflation rate %
20. Overall budget balance MUR M
- 1031
- 1458
- 2427
- 4090
- as a % of GDP %
21. Debt service ratio %
22. Tourism
- Tourists arrivals 000
- Gross tourism earnings MUR M
23. Nominal Exchange rate Ann. Average MUR/US$

Agricultural Sector

The Sugar industry has been the backbone of the Mauritian economy since the dawn of our economic history. It is still an important economic player, although in the diversification process it has been overtaken by the manufacturing sector both in terms of export earnings and employment. With a total cultivated area of 76 839 hectares in 1995, it accounted for about 88% of total arable land, 7% of GDP and about 13% of employment.

The sugar industry is expected to continue to be one of the important engines of growth in the future because of preferential prices on guaranteed markets. Mauritius has an ACP quota of 507 000 tonnes of sugar with the European Union under the Sugar Protocol and 13 000 tonnes with the USA. In June 1995, Mauritius benefited from an additional quota of 85 000 tons for the period July 1995 to June 2001 under the Special Preferential Agreement.

Manufacturing Sector

The major driving force of the Mauritian economy since the mid 1980s has been the manufacturing sector. The rapid growth in this sector was concentrated in the Export Processing Zone EPZ which now produces around 50% of total manufacturing value added. In 1995, the EPZ contributed to 10.3% of GDP, to some 28% of total employment and 70% of foreign earnings. EPZ production, growing at an average rate of 12%, is dominated by textiles and garments which account for 85% of total EPZ employment and 75% of EPZ export earnings.

Tourism Sector

The tourism industry has established itself as another of the main cylinders of growth. In 1995, tourist earnings grew by 9%, representing some 15% of total foreign exchange earnings. Our main source markets for the tourist sector continue to be Europe 55% followed by Réunion Island 19% and South Africa 10%. The number of tourist arrivals followed its upward trend to cross the 400 000 mark in 1995. Mauritius will continue to promote itself as a quality destination catering to the long haul high-spending end of the market.

Quatenary Sector

The quatenary sector, comprising the new high-tech international financial services such as offshore banking, freeport, fund management, stock exchange, insurance, etc.,  has emerged to be a vital contributor to the Mauritian economy and is now considered as the fourth pillar. Its contribution to GDP, around 11%, is almost as high as that of the EPZ and higher than that of the agricultural sector. The quatenary sector registered an annual growth rate of around 9% over the past few years.

Within the high-value added quatenary sector, the Offshore Business Centre has given a whole new shape to the structure of the Mauritian financial system and broadened the scope for financial activities. Mauritius has thus carved a comfortable niche in the world of international financial services and has acquired the stature of a trustworthy, stable and reputable offshore jurisdiction, with a total of 3279 offshore entities, including seven offshore banks.

The Mauritius Freeport, created in 1992, has also witnessed an impressive growth performance with a turnover of about $ 49.06 million in 1995. The major activities of the free port are, inter alia, warehousing and storage, labelling, packing, breaking bulks and other minor processing. The number of registered free port companies in 1995 amounted to 121 and the number of licenses issued by the Mauritius Freeport Authority was 309 for the same year. Mauritius is now well poised to be Africa’s major regional free port centre and the ideal trans-shipment port to interface the growth centres of Asia to the burgeoning economies of the African continent.

External trade and Regional cooperation

External trade

Mauritius has a small, open and liberalized economy depending on international trade. Imports and exports constitute a major part of its economic activities and Europe remains one of its main trading partners.

Total exports grew by 12.5% in value terms to $ 1 535 million in 1995. The most important commodity in its export basket is manufactured products, representing more than 70% of total merchandise exports, followed by sugar, accounting for 25%.

Imports, in nominal terms, rose to $ 1 931 million in 1995. Food 16%, machinery 22% and manufactured goods 33% constituted the main items of our imports.

Regional cooperation

Mauritius is conscious that regional initiatives and markets offer avenues for overcoming the constraints of smallness and remoteness and do present possibilities for its entrepreneurs to achieve the necessary economies of scale. Mauritius has been a signatory to many regional agreements, namely the Lomé Convention, IOC, COMESA, SADC and more recently the IOR-ARC.

Intra-regional trade in both SADC and COMESA has increased considerably. Mauritian exports to SADC countries went up by about 15% in 1995 while exports to COMESA countries experienced a 10% boost to cross the MUR 1 billion mark. Imports from SADC and COMESA countries amounted to $ 230 million and $ 57.5 million respectively, the latter representing an increase of almost 25%.

Economic activities of the outer islands

Rodrigues is mainly agricultural. About 35% of its area is devoted to rearing of cattle, sheep and goats. The main crop is maize which is used as staple food and for feeding animals. Lemons and chillies are also economically important. Fishing is also an important feature of life and is practised in the lagoons and offshore coastal waters. Manufacturing industries, except handicrafts are absent.

The main activities of Agalega and St Brandon islands are copra production and fisheries.


Primary energy

Indigenous energy resources of Mauritius are limited and consist mainly of biomass, hydro and fuelwood since the country has no known reserves of oil, gas or coal and no refinery. The country's requirements depend mainly on imported energy carriers. During the last ten years, the energy sector has witnessed sustained increase in primary energy, used mainly for industrial, transport, commercial and domestic sectors. The total primary energy requirements of Mauritius vary significantly and depend on the volume of bagasse, a by-product of the sugar industry, available for power generation by sugar factories. There are currently no major economic uses for bagasse other than power generation.

In 1995, petroleum products accounted for 58.2% of total primary energy followed by bagasse 32.5%, coal, 4.8% and hydro and fuelwood, 4.5%. Consumption of petroleum products was dominated by four types of fuels namely fuel oil, dual purpose kerosene, gasoil and light petroleum gas Lpg and their total imports reached 725 000 t in 1995.

Energy transformation and production

The lack of fossil energy carriers strongly characterized the energy transformation processes which means that non-indigenous carriers are imported in the form of their final use.

Energy conversion consists of four transformation segments namely:

The Central Electricity Board CEB is the body, responsible for the production and distribution of electricity. It had an installed capacity of 365 MW of which the available capacity was limited to 312 MW because of permanent deratings due to ageing and other operational constraints. CEB operates eight hydroelectric plants with a combined capacity of 60 MW of which 15 MW can be considered firm. It also operates three heavy fuel power plants with an installed capacity of 173 MW and a kerosene fired gas turbine power station of 80 MW capacity. Thirteen sugar factories having an installed capacity of 52 MW, also provide surplus electricity to the CEB grid.

The thermal power stations using imported fuel oil produced 788 GWh representing 75% of electricity generated in 1995. The hydro-power plants accounted for 13% and the sugar factories 12%.

The most plentiful indigenous source of energy is bagasse. The seasonality and variability in sugar production require power plants at sugar mills to use the dual fuel system bagasse-cum-coal to supply power to the grid at guaranteed levels all year round.

The hydroelectric potential of the country has largely been developed. The installed capacity of the plants in 1995 was about 60 MW. During the past ten years, output from hydro generation has been uneven, varying between 75 GWh and 148 GWh. The average annual output has been 108 GWh equivalent to about 24 000 tonnes of oil. The medium - to longer term prospects are that hydro generation would stagnate at around 130 GWh annually,


Final energy consumption in 1995 was 758 000 TOE. The share of petroleum products in the final energy consumption was 39% while that of electricity was 27%. The share of bagasse, a renewable source, in total final energy consumption dropped to 30% since the amount of bagasse used was almost constant.

Energy consumption in 1995 TOE
Primary energy requirement
805 993
of which : petroleum products
469 109
Per Capita primary energy requirement
Final energy use
758 303
of which : Petroleum products
295 688
230 787
205 666
20 334

The final energy consumption in the industrial sector including sugar accounted for 51%, domestic, 16%, transport, 25% and the commercial sector 7%. If bagasse used in the sugar industry was excluded, the percentage share would have been transport 36%, industry 29%, domestic 23% and the commercial sector 10%. The shift in the structure of final energy use from commercial and domestic sectors to industry and transport is noteworthy.

The total energy available from indigenous resources satisfied about 37% of the total energy demand. In 1995, there was still a high dependence on petroleum products and coal imports. The imports of primary energy increased to 776 000 TOE. Domestic consumption accounted for 620 000 TOE 80% and the remaining 20% were used for bunkering. Coal imports increased to 41 000 TOE.

Electricity sales GWh
Sector  1995
Domestic 334.1
Commercial 229.6
Industrial General 229.6
Industrial General 308.4
Agriculture Irrigation 17.3
Other 14.6

The total supply of forest products and waste wood was estimated at 22 000 t of which 9900 t qualified as fuelwood. The contribution of other renewable sources of energy such as solar radiation was very low and restricted to the use of water heating devices.



The transportation sector can be divided into three main categories namely:

The total demand for transport in 1995 was 25 million tonnes of freight and 259 million passengers.

Essential travel for attending work or school represent 65% of the total passenger volume. The modal share in 1995 was 67% for buses, 27% for private cars and dual purpose vehicles DPV and 6% for motorcycles.

As for freight transport, there is a tendency towards the use of vehicles with higher payloads in order to cater for bulk transportation and containerization to benefit from economies of scale. There is a large number of small trucks in use to satisfy the demand in the industrial and distributive trade sectors.

As a result of an increase in mobility and government decision to grant custom duty concessions on the purchase of utility vehicles, cars and motorcycles, the vehicle fleet has grown at an average rate of 7% yearly. In 1995, the registered vehicle population was 191 000.

                              Distribution of vehicles in 1995
Type of vehicle
Light and heavy trucks
19 665
Cars and DPVs
64 375
97 810
Tractors and trailers

All gasoline and about 44% of  imported diesel were used in the transportation sector in 1995.


Land is a basic natural resource and is essential to sustainable development. It provides food, fodder, energy,  settlements and industries. The growth in population, industrialization and urbanization has brought considerable changes in land use and hence cover. Land is being increasingly subjected to degradation due to lack of proper management stragtegies. Sustainable land development is crucial, especially for small island countries like Mauritius.

Land use change

Mauritius was once a dense tropical forest and the arrival of man with his needs has changed this situation over time. Actually the island of Mauritius has about 46% of its land under agriculture and 31% constitutes forest, shrubs and grazing land areas with the remaining 23% devoted to settlements, infrastructure and inland water resource systems.

Land use Distribution in 1995

                                                                                            Areaha             %

Sugar cane plantations                                                76 840          41

Tea plantation being replaced by sugar cane            3660            2

Forests, shrubs and grazing land                                57 000          31

Other agricultural activities                                              6000            3

Infrastructure                                                                     4000            2

Inland water resource systems                                       2600            1

Built-up areas                                                                36 400          20


The present total area of forest land is estimated at about 57 059 ha, of which 22 519 ha are state owned with the rest private.

Distribution and classification of forest lands in 1995 ha
State Forest lands
12 859
Natural : Indegenous
4 815
4 845
22 519
Private Forest lands
Mountain reserves
3 800
River reserves
2 740
Others incl. scrubs and grazing land 
28 000
34 540
Grand Total
57 059

Each year some 200 ha of forest are cut down for domestic use and equivalent felled areas are replanted.


Prior to the arrival of man, Mauritius was home to a rich diversity of indigenous flora and fauna, of which most have now disappeared. Today less than 1% of the original indigenous vegetation remains and these areas have been declared as Nature Reserves.

Birds and bats, the only mammals before the arrival of man and a few hardy land animals established themselves to evolve into unique species on the island. With very few predators the birds which have aririved on the island also evolved into highly unusual and unique forms.

There has been a drastic decline in populations of endemic birds, reptiles and other animals, many of which are on the verge of extinction. Mauritius has the third largest number of threatened animal species in the world due to human activity.

List of endangered animal species in Mauritius
Common name Biological name Status
Echo Parakeet Psittacula echo Critical
Mauritius Fody Foudia rubra Very rare
Olive White-eye Zosterops chloronothos Very rare
Cuckoo Shrike Coracina typica Rare
Mauritius Kestrel Falco punctatus Endangered
Pink Pigeon Neseona mayeri Endangered
Rodrigues Fruit Bat Pteropus rodricensis Endangered
Rodrigues Warbler Brebornis rodricanus Very rare

The flora consists of more than 900 species, of which over 300 are endemic. Many of these endemic species are today on the highly endangered list, with some of them surviving singly or as a small population. Some of the endangered floral species today include the black ebony, Royal Palm, Bottle Palm, Hurricane Palm, the Sideroxylon shrub, Gagnebina pterocarpa, Lomatophyllum tormentum, Bois de chandelle Dracaena cuncinna, Bois de boeuf Gastonai mauritiana, an orchid Oeniella aphrodite, cafe marron Ramosmania heterophylla, Bois pipe Dombeya rodriguensiana and Gonania leguatii.

The twenty rarest plants of Mauritius
Plant Species Status
Dombeya mauritiana Only 1 plant in Magenta
Olax psittacorum Only 1 plant in the lowland
Albizzia vaughanii Only 1 plant in Tamarin
Badula reticulata Known from 1 locality only
Tambourissa tetragona Known from 1 locality only
Claoxylon linostachys Only 2 plants
Chionanthus boutonii Only 2 plants in Perrier
Hibiscus fragilis Only 2 plants in Corps de Garde
Tambourissia cocottensis Known from 1 locality
Cylindrocline commersonii Small localized population
Elaeocarpus bojeri Small localized population
Croton vaughanii Small localized population
Embellia micrantha Very rare in Mauritius
Faujasia reticulata Information not available
Diospyros hemiteles Small population
Xylopia amplexicaulis Very rare
Drypetes caustica Small localized population
Tetrataxis salicifolia Only 2 small populations
Gaertnera longifolia Very rare; only few plants
Trochetia boutoniana Small localized population