The Republic of Mauritius is situated in the south west Indian Ocean, approximately 2,400 km from the south east coast of Africa, located just to the north of the Tropic of Capricorn. The island is only 67 km in length and 46 km at its widest point, with a total land area of 2,040 km², owing its origins to submarine volcanic activity. Although the volcanoes are long since dormant, they have left their mark on the profile and landscape of the island. As a political entity, the Republic includes not only the island of Mauritius but also the tiny island of Rodrigues some 563 km to the east, as well as the Cargados Carajos Archipelago (St. Brandon) and the two virtually uninhabited Agalega islands, 400 km to the north east and 1,000 km to the north of Mauritius respectively.
Mauritius has a maritime climate, tropical during summer and sub-tropical during winter. The summer months extend from November to April with temperatures varying from 22 to 29 °C. The coldest months are July and August with temperatures ranging from 18 to 23 °C. Rainfall varies from 1,150mm per annum on the west coast to 2,300mm on the plateau. Cyclones are active in this corner of the Indian Ocean from January through to April. Although the island is vulnerable, cyclones are not an annual event.
With a total population of approximately 1,1,291,456 (2012), the island is divided into nine administrative districts, and Rodrigues forms the tenth. English is the official language, while French and Creole are widely spoken. Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius and the other main centre is Rodrigues, which is home to people from African, European and Asian descent. Mauritius gained independence from Britain on 12 March 1968. The President is the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief. Full executive power rests with the Prime Minister, who is the head of government. Mauritius is a parliamentary democracy, with government by coalition as a standard feature of Mauritian politics and elections are held every five years.
Mauritius is now heading towards a service-oriented and innovation-driven economy. The financial services sector is emerging as one of the most important contributors to the Mauritian economy, representing 13% of GDP and directly employing over 15,000 highly skilled professionals. Over 27,000 global business companies operate from Mauritius which is increasing seen as a safe, trusted and secure International Financial Centre. Other sectors are rapidly developing namely knowledge, life sciences, healthcare, renewable energy, film-making, marinas and high-precision manufacturing.
Mauritius is offering a very conducive business environment to investors. Mauritius is ranked first in Africa on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index. Mauritius also tops the African continent on key international benchmarks namely the Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom, the Forbes Survey of Best Countries for Business, the Democracy Index, the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance and the Environmental Performance Index amongst others. The fiscal regime is among the most globally competitive ones with the personal and corporate tax harmonized at a low rate of 15%. A Business Facilitation Act is in force to further ease doing business. Nowadays, launching of business operations and delivery of Occupation Permit (combination of work and residence permits) are possible only after three working days.
The national objective is to graduate Mauritius from the current status of upper middle income country to the league of high-income nations by the 2020s.