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.
Conditions Mauritius is well known for its beautiful countryside and its pristine lagoons and beaches. It is also known for its social peace, political stability and racial harmony. Its steady economic growth over the years coupled with its nation's social cohesion and prosperity, ensure continuing development of essential services like health, education, water, electricity and telecommunications. Both public health and education services are free in Mauritius. However there exist private clinics as well as private English and French based schools of high international standards also exist. The island also boasts of a fine selection of restaurants, enviable leisure and excellent recreational opportunities including golf, lawn tennis, deep sea fishing, sailing and windsurfing, among others. Housing is of high standard, easily available and reasonably priced. British soccer is immensely popular.
The 'Mauritius Post' operates through over 80 outlets. In the main towns, there is widespread use of private post office boxes to which delivery is continuous during office hours. The Mauritius Post also operates the Express Mail Service. Air dispatches to most Western European, North American and Far Eastern countries are made daily while courier services, such as DHL, TNT, FedEx, UPS etc., operate frequent parcel delivery services to most parts of the world.
The transportation of both passengers and goods depends on the island's well developed road network. A motorway links the north of the island - via Port Louis the Capital City - to the south and the international airport. There are frequent bus services throughout the island, though they stop operating in the early evening. Taxis are readily available during the day. Visitors wishing to rent a car can do so through local companies like Mauritius Car Rental and internationally known companies such as Avis, Hertz, Europcar, Budget etc.
The modern international airport accounts for over 40 international flights on a daily basis. Air Mauritius, the national airline, has non-stop services to major cities like London, Paris, Geneva, New Delhi, Singapore, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Perth, etc. Other major airlines serving Mauritius are Air France, British Airways, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Air India, Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa. A strategic alliance between Air Mauritius and Air France was established thus offering 19 weekly flights to and from Paris.
Port Louis harbour is growing into one of the most efficient and modern ports in the region. The harbour being the gateway for 99% of the island's total external trade constitutes an important node in our infrastructure support. Over 5 million tonnes of cargo and 100,000 containers are handled each year in Port Louis. The harbour comprises five deep-water quays with depths varying between 9 and 12 metres, a sugar bulk terminal, and a fishing port. The harbour is equipped with a new 13 hectare container terminal, half a million square feet of covered space, and three post-panamax ship-to-shore gantry cranes capable of accommodating third generation ships. More than 200,000 square metres of reclaimed land is available for warehouses and other specialised storing facilities. The existing container terminal comprises terminals for the manipulation of bulk sugar, bulk oil, bulk wheat and bulk cement and provides cargo handling as well as trans-shipment facilities. It has kept pace with technological changes in maritime transportation and containerised cargo handling systems. Numerous international shipping lines call at Port Louis regularly. Freeport activities can also be carried out from the Port Louis harbour.