Mauritius is located in the Southern Hemisphere of the Indian Ocean, about 900 km (560 miles) east of Madagascar and 170 km (120 miles) north-east of Réunion. The island nation is composed of the main island of Mauritius, the neighbouring island of Rodrigues, 600 km (373 miles) further east, the two outer islands of Agalega, 1,065 km (660 miles) to the north, and the archipelago of Saint Brandon, 430 km to the north-east. The combined total area of all the islands is 2,040 km², which is about one fifth smaller than Luxembourg or approximately half the size of the US state of Rhode Island. Mauritius, Rodrigues, and nearby Réunion form the Mascarene Islands. Mauritius has a population of 1,234,000 and its capital and largest city is Port Louis.
Mauritius was discovered by the Portuguese in 1505, and was subsequently held by the Dutch, French, and British before independence was achieved in 1968.
Since independence, Mauritius has developed from a low-income, agricultural based economy to a diversified middle-income economy with growth in the industrial and financial services sectors and strong tourism and outsourcing sectors. The island now boasts one of Africa's highest per capita incomes and has attracted more than 32,000 offshore entities, many targeted at commerce in South Africa, India, and China. Mauritius is considered to have a stable democracy and developed civil society with regular free elections and a positive human rights record.
Mauritius has a presidential democracy modelled on the British parliamentary system which guarantees the separation of the legislative, executive and judicial powers. The President is the Head of State, but this is more of a ceremonial role since although executive authority is vested in him/her, they act on the advice of the Cabinet of the Government of the Republic of Mauritius. The Prime Minister is the Head of the Government and wields considerable powers through the constitutional right to advise the President to appoint or remove Ministers and to assign responsibilities to Ministers. The sixty-two members of Parliament are elected every five years by universal adult suffrage. Democracy is well entrenched in Mauritius and all major political parties are represented in Parliament.
Mauritius is considered to be a model of stability and economic prosperity in the African region. An island that was once dependent on sugar exports, has built up an important tourism industry, a strong outsourcing and financial services sector, and now boasts one of Africa's highest per capita incomes. Since developing from a low-income, agricultural economy, to a middle-income diversified economy, the country has attracted more than 32,000 offshore entities.
Recently, ICT, property development, renewable energy, and education and training have emerged as important sectors, attracting significant investment from both local and foreign investors. The marine economy is also under development.
Mauritius is ranks highly in terms of economic competitiveness, a friendly investment climate, good governance and a free economy.
Mauritius enjoys a literacy rate of over 90%. Education up to the tertiary level is free and formal instruction at primary level is compulsory. Ten government-funded and over 30 private institutions, in collaboration with reputed foreign universities and international training centres, provide tertiary education as well as specialised professional training courses.
As part of its objective to create a ‘Cyber Island’, the Government has defined a strategy for human resource development and has invested in IT education and the training of IT professionals. Many key training institutions operate training centres on the island and provide a wide range of professional IT courses.
A Human Resource Development Council has been set up under the Ministry of Training & Skills Development to enhance human resource development in Mauritius.