Mauritius : Society

Society

Population density (per sq. km): 
610
Life expectancy: 
74 years
Primary enrolment: 
98% (2012)
Population: 

1,244,000 (2013); 42 per cent of people live in urban areas; growth 0.7 per cent p.a. 1990–2013; birth rate 11 per 1,000 people (28 in 1970); life expectancy 74 years (62 in 1970).

About 68 per cent of the population is of Indian descent, 27 per cent Creole, and the remainder largely of Chinese or French descent.

Language: 

The official language is English; a French-based Creole is the mother tongue of many Mauritians and the most widely spoken language. Other languages include Bhojpuri, spoken by five per cent of the population, and French (four per cent; 2011 census).

Religion: 

Hindus 49 per cent, Christians 33 per cent (Roman Catholics 26 per cent), Muslims 17 per cent (2011 census).

Health: 

Public spending on health was two per cent of GDP in 2012. Overall, the health profile is similar to that of developed countries. Health care in the public sector is free to all Mauritians. As well as some 13 hospitals, there are area and community health centres. The entire population uses an improved drinking water source and 91 per cent have access to adequate sanitation facilities (2012). Infant mortality was 13 per 1,000 live births in 2013 (67 in 1960). Malaria was substantially eradicated in the 1950s. A national AIDS prevention and control programme has been running since 1987. In 2013, 1.1 per cent of people aged 15–49 were HIV positive.

Education: 

Public spending on education was four per cent of GDP in 2012. There are 12 years of compulsory education starting at the age of five. Primary school comprises six years and secondary seven, with cycles of three and four years. Some 97 per cent of pupils complete primary school (2010). The school year starts in January. Education is free at the primary and secondary levels, partly subsidised at the pre-primary level and heavily subsidised at the tertiary level.

A review of tertiary education in 2009/2010 found a rapidly expanding sector with some 42,260 students attending 61 institutions, 11 publicly funded. The sector centres on the University of Mauritius, which comprises faculties of agriculture; engineering; law; management; science (including the Department of Medicine); and social studies and humanities. Other institutions include the University of Technology (operational from September 2001); Mauritius Institute of Education (training teachers); Mahatma Gandhi Institute (courses in Asian culture); Open University of Mauritius (higher and continuing professional education; established in July 2012, incorporating Mauritius College of the Air); and Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Medical College (established at Belle Rive in 1999). The female–male ratio for gross enrolment in tertiary education is 1.30:1 (2011). Literacy among people aged 15–24 is 97 per cent (2010).

Mauritius hosted the 18th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers in Port Louis in August 2012. Commonwealth Education Ministers meet every three years to discuss issues of mutual concern and interest.

Media: 

Daily newspapers and periodicals reflect the country’s wide cultural mix and are published in French, English, Hindi, Urdu and Chinese. The leading dailies are L’Express, Le Matinal and Le Mauricien (afternoon), and Mauritius Times is a weekly.

The Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation provides public TV and radio and is funded by advertising and licence fees. There are several private TV channels and radio stations.

Some 97 per cent of households have TV sets (2012). There are 485 personal computers per 1,000 people (2012).

Communications: 

Country code 230; internet domain ‘.mu’. There are some public telephones. Mobile phone coverage is good. Internet cafés can be found in the main towns. There is a good postal service.

For every 1,000 people there are 292 landlines, 1,232 mobile phone subscriptions and 390 internet users (2013).

Public holidays: 

New Year (two days), Abolition of Slavery (1 February), National Day (12 March), Labour Day (1 May), All Saints’ Day (1 November), Arrival of the Indentured Labourers (2 November) and Christmas Day.

Religious and other festivals whose dates vary from year to year include Chinese New Year, Thaipoosam Cavadee (January/February), Maha Shivaratri (February/March), Ougadi (March/April), Ganesh Chathurthi (August/September), Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan, three days) and Diwali (October/November).