Known to Arab navigators,“discovered” by the Portuguese, named by the Dutch after Prince Maurice of Nassau, colonised by the French and thereafter by the British, Mauritius subsequently became an independent nation in 1968 and acceded to a Republic status within the British Commonwealth in 1992.
Early travellers referred to Mauritius as the "Star and Key of the Indian Ocean" since the island was an essential port of call for ships travelling from Europe to India and the Far East. Nowadays, it is its strategic time zone, midway between Europe and the Far East that retains the attention of international businesses (+4 hrs from GMT, -4hrs from Singapore).
The Mauritius constitution is derived from the British system, with a clear separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers. Parliamentary Elections are held freely and regularly. Government and opposition parties alike display a positive attitude towards industrial development and foreign investments. It is a pro business pro growth country.
The population is generally multilingual (English, French, Mauritian Creole and a number of oriental languages). One of the key elements of Government policy has been the establishment of free education at all levels. As such Mauritius enjoys a very high literacy rate. The official language is English.
Mauritius has a history of banking tradition of almost two centuries. A number of major foreign banks such as Barclays, Hong Kong Shanghai, Deutsche Bank, Crédit Lyonnais, Crédit Suisse First Boston, State Bank of India and BNP operate in Mauritius
Liberal government policies together with an eagerness by local entrepreneurs to develop businesses have resulted in a very successful economic situation.
Over the past decade, Mauritius has consistently achieved high rates of growth and significantly increased its per capita income. It has also considerably reduced unemployment and inflation.
The internationalisation of the Stock Exchange and removal of controls on foreign exchange transactions have boosted activity in the Mauritius International Financial Services Centre, a fast expanding sector of the economy.
Mauritius has adhered to Article 7 of the Articles of Agreement of the International Monetary Fund. This irreversible shift from Article 14 means that Mauritius cannot re-impose restrictions on payments and transfer for international transactions.
In 1999, Mauritius was awarded the "Number one Credit Rating in Africa" by Euromoney magazine.