Preface Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Mauritius is a unique society. Unlike its neighbors, Mauritius is
not African, although it lies close to Africa and seeks regional
ties with that continent. Nor can it be considered truly Asian,
although Indian influence in Mauritius is prominent. Despite more
than 300 years of European colonial domination, Mauritius is not
European. Portuguese navigators who first visited Mauritius in the
15th century found the island uninhabited. The ancestors of the
present inhabitants were all immigrants and their descendants
therefore, considered themselves to be Franco-, Indo-, Anglo-,
Sino-Mauritian, or in the case of Africans, “Creoles.” Today,
Mauritius remains a unique blend of these many cultures. The island
became a French Crown Colony known as Ile de France in 1767.
However, when the French ceded the island to Great Britain, under
the Treaty of Paris in 1815, the British, renamed it Mauritius,
after the original Dutch name. Under the British, the island became
an important sugar producer. Since World War II, Mauritius has
become a regional hub on the air route between Australia, East Asia,
and South Africa.
Americans assigned to Mauritius find themselves on a beautiful
island amid a friendly populace. Except for frequent rainfall in
winter (June–September) and strong winds during the cyclone season
(November–April), the climate is pleasant. Life is fairly relaxed.
Mauritius is characterized by its small size and great distance from
the rest of the world. The official language of Mauritius is
English, but French is more widely spoken. The lingua franca is
Creole, a French patois. A speaking knowledge of French is a
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
The Island of Mauritius, volcanic in origin, lies in the
southwest Indian Ocean just within the Tropic of Capricorn, 1,250
miles from the African coast and 500 miles east of Madagascar. It is
about 40 miles long and 30 miles wide, with an area of 720 square
miles. In the center, an extensive plateau rises to 1,900 feet with
three mountain ranges bordering the central tableland. Mauritius has
a maritime climate with slight differences between tropical summer
and subtropical winter. Humidity is high, and annual rainfall along
the central plateau's western slopes totals nearly 200 inches. In
Floreal, the area where most Embassy residences are located, the
winter low can drop to 50°F with high winds and rain, making it seem
much colder. The summer daytime high is in the 80s with nighttime
temperatures about 10°F cooler. Temperatures in Port Louis and at
the beach are about 10°F higher than elsewhere on the island. Rainy
and dry seasons are not well defined, and vegetation remains green
all year. Mildew is a year-round problem, particularly in summer
(November–April). Cyclones threaten the island between November and
Population Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
The island's estimated population in 2000 was 1,186,059. With 581
persons per square kilometer, Mauritius is one of the world's most
densely populated countries. The population growth rate of about 3%
a year in the early 1960s has declined significantly and is now 1
percent a year. Forty percent of the total population is under the
age of 20, with a labor force of about 550,000. Unemployment stands
Public Institutions Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
On March 12, 1968, Mauritius became an independent country within
the Commonwealth and, soon after, a member of the United Nations. On
March 12, 1992, Mauritius became a Republic, with an appointed
President replacing the Governor General as head of state. The
President's duties are largely ceremonial, with the Prime Minister
and cabinet holding executive powers.
For electoral purposes, the country is divided into 21
constituencies, which elect 62 members to the Legislative Assembly
(plus 8 “best losers” to help maintain communal balance). The
Council of Ministers, or cabinet, presided over by the Prime
Minister, is the supreme policymaking body and responsible to the
Legislative Assembly. Following the September 2000 general
elections, the Mauritius Militant Movement (MMM)‑Militant Socialist
Movement (MSM) coalition ousted the ruling Mauritian Labor Party (MLP)‑Xavier
Duval Mauritian Party (PMXD) coalition led by Prime Minister Navin
Ramgoolam. Past Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth resumed the post
of Prime Minister.
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Interest in arts and letters has existed in Mauritius since the
18th century. The island has produced talented poets and novelists:
the work of one historian (Dr. Auguste Toussaint) is recognized as
authoritative worldwide. As early as the 8th century, actors from
France performed plays in Port Louis. Today, overseas theater and
opera troupes come occasionally to the island. Lectures, art
exhibits, and concerts of varying quality are other cultural
activities that give Mauritius a unique flavor of both Eastern and
Western cultures in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Representative and abstract painting flourishes; local groups
provide art courses to initiate interested young people. The island
has a musical society and several active historical societies. The
Mauritius Archives is one of the oldest in the Southern Hemisphere.
Founded in 1880, the Mauritius Institute comprises a natural history
museum, public library, small art gallery in Port Louis, and a
historical museum at Mahebourg. The island's world-acclaimed Sugar
Industry Research Institute provides ever-improving varieties of
cane. It also researches fertilizers, herbicides, pest and disease
control, irrigation practices, and sugar technology.
The Government of Mauritius provides free primary and secondary
education. The University of Mauritius focuses mainly on
agriculture, technology, education, administration, and law, and has
a small student body. The Government has made strengthening the
university a priority and has doubled its budget to expand
university facilities and increase its student body to 5,000. Many
Mauritians obtain university degrees in the U.K., France, India,
Canada, and South Africa. About 300 students travel to the U.S. for
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
The Mauritian economy is among the strongest in Africa, with a
2000 GDP of $4.5 billion and per capita income of $3,500. While it
heavily relies on exports of sugar and textiles, services like
tourism, freeport and offshore business, and financial services
constitute other pillars of the economy. The Government is tracking
information and communication technology as the next growth sector.
Economic performance has been impressive for the past 15 years, with
real growth averaging 7% from 1985–1990 and 5 percent in the 1990s.
At its 1999 meeting, the World Economic Forum ranked Mauritius as
the most competitive economy in Africa for the second consecutive
The Mauritian textile industry and other, emerging sectors of the
economy stand to benefit from the U.S. African Growth and
Opportunity Act (AGOA). AGOA offers tangible incentives for African
countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and
build free markets. AGOA provides African countries with the most
liberal access to the U.S. market available to any country or region
with which the U.S. does not have a Free Trade Agreement. It
supports U.S. business by encouraging reform of Africa's economic
and commercial regimes, which will build stronger markets and more
effective partners for U.S. firms.
With a sustained annual growth of over 8% in the past 6 years,
the financial and business services sector has emerged as the fourth
pillar of the Mauritian economy. This sector which includes banking,
insurance, capital market, offshore, and other financial
intermediaries, currently contributes 12% to GDP. With a
contribution of 6% to GDP, banking is the most important component
of this sector.
The offshore sector is growing fast and is playing an
increasingly important role in the financial sector. At the end of
2000, the number of companies registered in the offshore sector
reached 15,000. This includes 161 investment funds, mostly invested
in India, with a net asset base of $5 billion. India accounts for
86% of business, South Africa 11%, and other countries 3%. Offshore
business activities include funds management, investment holding,
and international trading. The authorities are currently promoting
new high value-added activities such as aircraft registration and
financing as well as captive insurance. The offshore banking
subsector currently has 10 offshore banks.
Automobiles Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Despite the country's small size, a car is necessary; average
weekly driving distances may total 300–400 miles. All employees may
import automobiles or purchase them locally, in both cases, duty
free. Employees with families may purchase two vehicles locally,
duty free. Cars may be sold duty free after 4 years. If cars
imported duty free are sold before the end of the 4-year period to a
person without duty-free privileges, it is the responsibility of the
owner to ensure that all remaining duty is paid prior to any sales
transaction. Duty is calculated by Customs Department on a declining
pro rata basis. U.S. cars are not recommended because of the
difficulty in obtaining spare parts, repair service, the danger of
driving on the left-hand side of the road, and the automobile must
be exported at the end of the employee's tour. The Mauritian
Government does, at this time, allow left-hand-drive vehicles into
the country, but only with the stipulation that they be exported at
the end of your tour. The Department of State has authorized the
purchase and shipment of right-hand-drive vehicles, but does not
authorize crating automobiles for Mauritius. Most automobiles are
shipped uncrated and incur minor or no damage. Obtain marine
insurance for vehicles shipped to or from post.
U.S.-made vehicles are not available locally. Local repair firms
order spare parts for American cars from southern and eastern Africa
with consequent delays. Embassy personnel order directly from the
U.S. Do not import American vehicles with catalytic converters,
since unleaded gasoline is unavailable.
Local cars are right-hand drive (British) and most have stick
shift. Mitsubishi, Ford, Nissan, Peugeot, Toyota, Honda, Mazda,
Subaru, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Fiat, Citroen, Hyundai, Renault,
Volvo, Suzuki, and BMW makes are sold, but delivery may take up to 6
months. Contact the Embassy's general services officer (GSO) and
order in advance, as there are few cars in stock. Repair service for
European and Japanese makes is inexpensive and good.
Roads in Mauritius are paved and generally well maintained.
Driving is hazardous due to the recklessness of many drivers, and
pedestrians, bicyclists, and animals along the sides of the narrow
roads in rural areas. Some 20 miles of four-lane highway extends
north and south from Port Louis. The highway to the airport was
expanded in 2000.
Liability insurance is required by law. A discount is given with
proof of a safe driving record. A local drivers license is issued to
employees holding a valid U.S. license; otherwise, employees must
pass the Mauritian test. The Embassy handles registration.
Diplomatic “CD” plates are issued to all members on the diplomatic
list. A small fee for license plates is charged. Duty-free gas costs
about $0.50 a liter (one gallon = 4.5609 liters).
Local Transportation Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Mauritius has no railroads or streetcars. Buses are crowded and
slow, but service wide areas of the island. Most Americans use
either private cars or taxis. Local taxi service is safe, adequate,
and readily available during the day. Taxis are not metered; fares
are based on mileage using the odometer as a gauge. Overcharges can
be avoided by agreeing on a price before starting out.
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Regular flights operate nonstop to and from Europe, eastern and
southern Africa, Australia, India, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Air
Mauritius is the national airline and provides good service. The
other major airlines that operate to Mauritius are: British Airways,
Air France, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and South African Airways.
Most personnel travel from the U.S. through Europe, but some take
the Pacific route through Singapore or Hong Kong. Schedules change
frequently, so consult with airline ticket offices for current
information. Occasional passenger ships stop at Mauritius on
cruises. Some cargo ships carry passengers to Africa and Australia.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00
Overseas telephone service is good, with direct dialing
available. All Embassy homes are equipped with telephones. Calls to
the U.S. cost 104 rupees (about US$ 3.85) for 3 minutes. The circuit
is open 24 hours daily, and direct dialing is easy.
Operator-assisted calls take 5 minutes to place. Connections are
good and all calls are automatically person to person. Collect calls
cannot be made or received in Mauritius (except for Commonwealth
countries). Mauritius country code is 230. The Embassy telephone
number is 230–208–2347 or 230–202–4400.
Under normal circumstances, cables sent via the Department are
not delivered on weekends. Reliable worldwide telegraph service is
available. The ordinary rate from Mauritius to the U.S. is 24 rupees
a word. Faxes are received 24 hours daily at the Embassy. The
Embassy fax number is 230–208–9534. Mauritius is 9 hours ahead of
the U.S. eastern time from October to April and 8 hours ahead from
April to October. This is based on U.S. daylight saving time, as
Mauritian time does not change during the year.
Internet Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Internet service is readily available through Mauritius Telecom.
Various service packages are available (e.g. 30 hours a month for Rs
600-US$22). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website:
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
International airmail to the U.S. takes 5–14 days, depending on
destination. Mail is not censored or restricted, so you can mail
checks safely. The international mail address is:
Name American Embassy P. O. Box 544 Rogers House, 4th Floor John
F. Kennedy St. Port Louis, Mauritius, Indian Ocean
Since all packages sent via international mail must clear customs
and this entails delays, Embassy personnel use surface facilities
for parcel post from the U.S.
Since U.S. postage stamps are not sold at post, bring them.
Airmail letters, film, eyeglasses, and prescription medicines may be
sent at domestic rates through the diplomatic pouch. Port Louis
receives two pouches a week from the Department. Barring airline
strikes or schedule changes, pouches may arrive in days. However,
pouches have taken as long as 3 weeks. Transit time of letters sent
by pouch ranges from 2 to 4 weeks. The diplomatic pouch mail address
Name Department of State 2450 Port Louis Pl., Washington, D.C.
Radio and TV Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Embassy personnel have access to Armed Forces Radio and
Television Service (AFRTS).
The Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) operates two AM
channels and three FM channels mainly on mediumwave radio and three
TV channels. It broadcasts in French, English, Hindi, Creole, and
Chinese. English-language news is broadcast daily. Some English,
American, and French TV films are aired, with many of the U.K. and
U.S. films dubbed in French. TVs can be purchased duty free or
rented inexpensively. Sets properly equipped with a booster and a
good antenna (available locally) can receive telecasts from the
French channel (RFO) on Reunion Island that provides daily news
coverage from Paris. Both MBC and RFO telecast on the 626 PALS/Secam
Standard, so American TVs cannot be used here, without modification.
English language international news coverage depends primarily on
Reuters feed. Several pay cable channels are operational, including
Canal Plus in French; London Satellite Systems, which carries CNN
and Hallmark movies; and Parabole Reunion.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
12/31/2001 6:00 PM
International editions of Time and Newsweek are available at
local newsstands within a few days of publication. Local press is
mainly in French and carries mainly local news and advertising.
However, they cover some international news, and a few articles are
in English. An English-language weekly publication is News on
Sunday. Public Diplomacy's “Washington File” is also available to
post personnel. The Washington Post, New York Times and other U.S.
newspapers are accessible via Internet.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Although medical facilities in Mauritius are adequate for general
medical care, they do not meet U.S. standards of efficiency,
organization, hygiene, and sophistication. Serious illnesses,
accidents, or complicated cases may require medevac to South Africa
or Europe. Doctors and surgeons are qualified and capable of coping
with an emergency; but, due to inadequate nursing care and staff,
the system is sometimes precarious. Most staff use Clinic Darne,
located in Curepipe, near most of the Embassy homes.
The three large public Government-operated and -owned hospitals
are adequately equipped but are understaffed and are avoided by
foreigners due to overcrowding and lack of privacy and comfort.
Medical care is free for all Mauritians. The Sir Seewoosagur
Ramgoolam Hospital, a Government facility in the northern part of
the island, has a basic intensive care unit, but it is inadequately
staffed and too far from most Embassy residences in the plateau
Ambulances are scarce and poorly equipped; they rarely carry
oxygen cylinders or other equipment necessary for cardiac arrest or
road traffic accidents; and attendants are trained only in first
aid. Therefore, emergency cases can present problems because of
distance from facilities and inadequate communication links. SAMU is
a public ambulance service available to all. Megacare is a private
ambulance service available to subscribers; Americans at the Embassy
subscribe to Megacare.
According to the Ministry of Health, the island has about 400
physicians; most physicians have been trained in Europe or India.
Many are government doctors with private practices in their
specialties. Most local doctors are well trained, but their
efficiency is hampered by inadequately trained staff, unavailable
equipment and supplies, or heavy patient loads, as well as the lack
of follow-up, and in-country training in the latest medical advances
and technology. Cultural differences also account for differing
attitudes toward patient care and other standards Americans normally
Surgeons from France, India, and Arab countries periodically
perform sophisticated heart operations at the Sir Seewoosagur
Ramgoolam National Hospital.
A local doctor serves as the post medical adviser and referral
agent for local doctors. The Embassy also employs two contract
nurses a half-day a week from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The regional
medical doctor and the regional psychiatrist are based in Pretoria
and make periodic visits.
All main towns have several pharmacies that offer good service.
Most pharmacies are open Monday through Saturday from to 8 a.m. to
6:30 or 7 p.m. A few pharmacies are open on Sunday and local
holidays. Pharmacies are fairly well stocked. However, most brands
are European or locally manufactured and may be unfamiliar to
Americans. Prices are reasonable. The Embassy has a small stock of
common U.S.-made medicines and vaccines. Bring special medications,
Community Health Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Mauritius has no serious endemic diseases or health hazards. Most
Embassy employees and their families have found Mauritius to be a
place where it is not difficult to be healthy. The constant high
humidity may affect persons with arthritic conditions. Hay fever and
sinusitis sufferers may be affected during July and August when
sugarcane flowers. Local pharmacies and the Embassy Medical Unit
have antihistamines. Malaria is considered to have been eradicated
in Mauritius, but a few cases have been reported, in the case of
travelers from infected countries. Visitors arriving from infected
countries are checked thoroughly. The most common type of malaria
seen on the island is Plasmodium Vivax. Chloroquine-resistant cases
have not been reported. The island has no rabies, as animals are
quarantined for 6 months upon arrival. The number of AIDS cases
reported from 1987 to 2001 is 321.
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Gamma Globulin and tetanus are recommended before arrival.
Infectious hepatitis, poliomyelitis, typhoid, and paratyphoid fever
occur intermittently; therefore, immunizations are available through
the Government of Mauritius. Tuberculosis occurs, and all family
members should have an annual X-ray or skin test. Servants should be
examined and X-rayed before they are hired.
Parasites and dysentery occur occasionally, but the conditions
can be prevented by careful food preparation and storage, boiling
and filtering water, or using of over-the-counter drugs.
Aqua shoes should be worn to prevent coral and fish stings while
swimming. Sunscreen is also necessary, especially at the beach where
the sun's rays are strongest.
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 12/31/2001
In the recent past, there have been no EFM positions available in
the official mission for family members. The host government does
allow for family members to obtain work permits to work on the local
economy, and jobs are generally available depending on the person's
job skills. Family members should be aware, however, that the local
wage scale is much lower than comparable job salaries in the U.S.
and most European countries.
American Embassy - Port Louis
Post City Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Port Louis, capital of Mauritius and its largest city, lies at
sea level on the northwestern coast within a semicircle of
mountains. One of the oldest towns on the island, it is the
country's industrial and trade center.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, the French, Dutch, and
British vied for the island as a port of call. In 1715, the French
East India Company took possession and named it Isle de France. Port
Louis, named after the French King Louis XIV, became an important
naval base for French operations against the British. Since the 18th
century, Port Louis Harbor has been a commercial hub. The opening of
the Suez Canal in 1869 reduced the importance of Mauritius' position
on the trade route around the Cape of Good Hope. Since World War II,
Mauritius has become a communications center on the air route
between Australia and South Africa.
About 142,000 people live in Port Louis. In the late 1860s,
malaria hit the island's low-lying areas and was responsible for the
town's decline and the exodus of its wealthier inhabitants to the
uplands. Although malaria has now been eradicated, Europeans and
foreigners still live in residential areas near the Curepipe
A modern Legislative Assembly building and a government center
completed in 1979 flank Port Louis' 18th-century Government House.
These government buildings are a 5-minute walk from the Embassy.
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
The American Embassy in Port Louis is the only U.S. post in
Mauritius. Opened originally as a Consulate in 1794, it is one of
the oldest U.S. posts. The post was closed in 1911 with the opening
of the Suez Canal and reopened as a Consulate in October 1967, in
anticipation of independence. With independence, the post was
elevated to Embassy status in March 1968. The first resident
Ambassador was appointed in June 1970.
The Chancery is located on the fourth floor of Rogers House, a
modern office building on John Kennedy St. Embassy office hours are
7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The telephone number
is: (230) 208-2347 / (230) 202-4400; Fax: (230) 208- 9534. The
Embassy shares the office building with the Australian High
Commission, Rogers & Co., and several travel agencies.
All newly assigned personnel are met and assisted through customs
by an American staff member.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Official Americans visiting Mauritius generally stay at the
Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel, situated in a newly built complex
across the street from the Embassy. (The St. Georges is another
moderately priced hotel located in Port Louis, about a 10-minute
walk from the Embassy.)
The following are attractive seaside establishments, most of
which are about 40–50-minutes drive from the Embassy. The Shandrani
and the Croix du Sud are near the airport. The Hilton, La Pirogue,
Sugar Beach, Sofitel Imperial, Berjaya Le Morne are on the west
coast; the Radisson, the Maritim, Merville Beach, and Trou aux
Biches Hotels are north of Port Louis. The Belle Mare, the
Residence, Prince Maurice, St. Geran, and Touessrok Hotels are on
the east coast.
Prices are moderate to expensive, and all maintain acceptable
cleanliness. Hotels are suited for the tourist more than the
business traveler, except for the Labourdonnais. Arrangements can be
made, however, for early breakfast, etc.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Government-owned or -leased houses are available for all
employees assigned to post. Most of these are in the Vacoas/Floreal
area in the central plateau within a few minutes of Curepipe, one of
the island's main shopping districts, and 30 minutes from the
Chancery. The U.S. Government owns three houses: the Ambassador's
residence, the DCM's home, and one other. The Ambassador's residence
is a two-story, 5-bedroom concrete residence set in a beautiful
4-acre garden. After extensive renovation, it is now suitable for
large receptions, but has retained its original homelike atmosphere.
One of the nice features of an assignment in Mauritius is the
availability of attractive housing. The DCM and other employees have
homes with gardens stocked with colorful flowers and shrubs,
surrounded by bamboo hedges that provide privacy. Most homes have
fences and gates as well. Some houses, built on hillsides, have
beautiful views of the mountains and the ocean. Staff houses are
12–15 miles from the Chancery. The Ambassador's residence and DCM's
home have tennis courts available for staff use.
Furnishings Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
The Embassy provides basic furniture, curtains, stoves,
refrigerators, transformers, washers, dryers, freezers,
dehumidifiers, porch furniture, lawnmowers, air-conditioners, fans,
and portable heaters. Mauritius has a few cabinetmakers who can copy
almost any type of furniture. Ready-made furniture is expensive and
not well constructed. Rattan furniture is a popular option.
Bring pictures, and other small furniture items to personalize
your home. Although some baby furniture is available locally, it is
expensive and not up to American quality. Although the Embassy
supplies a basic Welcome Kit for newcomers, employees should have an
initial airfreight shipment. Cooking utensils, china, and glassware
should be brought. Although a large selection of these is available,
such items are expensive. The Ambassador's residence and DCM's home
have some of these items, and inventories are available from the
Department's Foreign Building Office area officer. Contact the
Embassy if you have specific questions about what to bring.
Mauritius is humid. Although most houses are well ventilated,
personnel use dehumidifiers daily. Clothes and pillows need frequent
airing when weather permits.
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Electric current is 220v, 50-cycle, single-phase, AC. Motors not
wired for 50 cycles operate on local current, but will overheat.
With transformers, 110v electric appliances, except clocks and
record players, can use the local current. Wall sockets are British
standard; conversion wall plugs for American equipment are sold
Houses are not heated in Mauritius. Winter months
(July–September) are damp and cool. Each Government-leased house is
equipped with dehumidifiers, which can be moved from room to room.
All Embassy homes have electric hot water heaters. Most have water
Food Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Tropical fruits are seasonal and reasonably priced. Citrus fruits
are imported and expensive. In season, mangoes, litchis, avocados,
cantaloupes, and watermelons are available, but large consumption by
tourist hotels has increased prices. Temperate zone fresh fruits,
such as apples, pears, plums, and grapes, are imported from South
Africa, Israel, and Australia. They are expensive and of
Vegetables (cucumber, beans, cauliflower, beets, okra, eggplants,
radishes, corn, lettuce, watercress, peas, squash, carrots,
pumpkins, tomatoes, cabbage) are available, but prices and
availability fluctuate according to weather, holidays, etc. Fresh
fish is sometimes available, and depending on the season, prawns,
crabs, crayfish, lobsters, and oysters are found. Local meat and
poultry, particularly chicken and ham, are available in other than
U.S. cuts. Imported frozen meat and fowl from Kenya, Botswana, and
Australia are always available but expensive. Meats are not always
wrapped or stored to U.S. specifications. Many varieties of French,
British, Dutch, and Australian cheese, butter, and salami are
available. Eggs are fresh.
Long-life and powdered milk from France, U.K., and Australia are
sold locally. Stores carry a good selection of expensive canned
goods. Brand-name baby foods are available. All types of food from
fancy hors d'oeuvres to staples are available locally, but cost more
than comparable U.S. items. Other items that are scarce,
unavailable, or expensive are chocolate chips, maple syrup, corn
syrup, walnuts, pecans, ready-made cake frostings, specialty baking
products, and tall kitchen trash bags.
Port Louis has no commissary. Duty-free cigarettes, wine, and
liquors are available on the local market, but the selection of U.S.
brands is limited.
Clothing Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Ready-made clothing is limited and priced moderate to expensive.
Tailormade clothing is satisfactory and reasonable. Cotton is worn
most of the year, but bring clothing suitable for wet, windy, and
cool weather, especially during winter months and in the highlands.
Include a lightweight raincoat and sweaters for the rainy season and
winter months. Mauritius has a good supply of various materials
including woolens, cottons, and manmade blends. Shirts and pants for
both men and women can be copied by proficient tailors and a few
good dressmakers. Many boutiques have readymade lightweight
clothing. Sweaters can be a bargain in Mauritius. Bring a good
supply of shoes, even though copies can be made locally. Most women
do not wear nylons, although some women wear them in winter. Nylons
here are scarce.
Men Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Dress for the Ambassador and other officers with representational
responsibilities and their spouses is business attire. Morning dress
(cutaway) or formal wear is not required. Official functions often
call for lounge suits or national dress, which translates to a dark
suit for men or cocktail dress for women.
Lightweight suits, similar to those worn in Washington D.C., in
summer, are worn year round. In July and August when the weather is
cool, wet, and penetrating, clothing worn in Washington, D.C. during
March is suitable. Men's shoe styles are European and are not well
made. Bring enough to last your tour or order from the U.S. Men
should have several dark, lightweight suits for evening wear and a
dinner jacket (during hot weather black or white dinner jackets are
worn) for formal occasions. Office attire is shirts and ties.
Women Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Short-sleeved or sleeveless cotton dresses, blouses, and skirts
are worn during summer. In winter, lightweight wool clothing with
long sleeves, sweaters, and shawls are worn on the plateau. Rainwear
and umbrellas are needed. Umbrellas are available locally.
Women should have informal party clothes for evening wear, wool
shawls, long skirts, hostess dresses, or dressy pantsuit outfits,
sandals, and dressy shoes. Shoes of all types should be brought as
they are not well made locally. Those with representational
responsibilities need several short evening dresses during a 2-year
tour. The climate affects the choice of dress material. Cotton,
tergal, muslin, lace, and lightweight silk are recommended.
Polyesters are also practical.
Children Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Sleeveless or short-sleeved cotton garments are worn. Boys and
girls wear shorts or pants. Sweaters, raincoats, Windbreakers, and
rubber boots are needed. Clothing is available locally, but bring
athletic and dress shoes because of poor quality, limited supplies,
and sizes. At some schools, children wear a school uniform: shirts
and shorts for boys and simple dresses for girls. These can be
purchased locally at reasonable prices. Children should have warm
nightwear for July and August.
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
A few American brands of cigarettes are available, but bring a
supply of favorites and order them in the future. Kleenex, Tampax,
disposable diapers, and paper products like toilet paper, paper
napkins, plates, cups, and towels are available.
Basic Services Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Mauritius has adequate drycleaning facilities with laundry
services. However, most laundry is done at home. Shoe repair is
inexpensive and satisfactory. Mauritius has some good barbers and
beauty shops. Electrical services are good, and most U.S. appliances
and radios can be repaired locally.
Domestic Help Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Domestics are available to do housework. One to four domestics
may be needed in a household, depending on the size. Most domestics
perform only one or two types of work such as cooking, cleaning,
gardening, or laundry. Young women sometimes work as nannies. You
may have to try several before you find satisfactory domestics. Most
speak French and Creole with limited English. Most domestics need
supervision and instruction. Some houses have living quarters for
one or more domestics. However, domestic help often prefer to live
in their own communities. Wages are low by American standards
(around $200 a month) for a full-time maid/cook. The employer
provides work uniforms, daily tea and bread, and health care.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Whatever the denomination, most religious services are in French,
while only a few are in English. Anglican and Roman Catholic
cathedrals and churches have services in Port Louis and all main
centers. Seventh-day Adventist churches exist in several towns. The
Church of Scotland is located in Phoenix. Southern Baptists have
churches in Grand Baie and Curepipe. Christian Science, Evangelical,
Assembly of God, and Mormon churches are also represented.
Predominant religious groups in Mauritius are Hindu, Muslim, and
At Post Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM Mauritian educational
institutions are based on the British system, except for the French
Government-supported Lycee Labourdonnais. Primary education (grades
1 to 6, or up to age 11–12) and secondary education (age 11–12 to
completion of exams) are distinctly divided by a national
examination known as the CPE exam (Certificate of Primary
Preschools on the island are excellent. One of the many
preschools used by the Americans is “Teddy Bear.” The school accepts
children between the ages of 3 and 5. School hours are 8:30 a.m. to
noon for half-days and 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for full days. The school
has a playground and has a lot of indoor activities for children,
including singing, drawing, painting, counting, and learning the
alphabet. The school is located in Floreal, near the DCM's
residence. For further information, consult the human resource
officer at the Embassy.
Pupils earn ordinary level (equivalent to the U.S. high school
diploma) and advanced level (college preparatory) Cambridge School
Certificates. Pupils at the Lycee earn the Baccalaureate. The
official language of instruction is English and all textbooks are in
English (usually printed in the U.K.). However, a large part of
classroom instruction and explanation is in French/Creole, the
common language of most Mauritians. The scholastic year extends from
January to November, with breaks for Easter, midterm (4–6 weeks
around July/August), and summer holidays (November/December).
Note: Alexandra House School and the Lycee Labourdonnais operate
on the American/European school calendar (September to June/July).
For primary school-aged children, the Catholic-run Loreto Convent
Schools, located at various places on the island are popular and
offer primarily English-language instruction. The small,
nondenominational Alexandra House School in Vacoas and Clavis
Primary in Moka more closely resemble an English grammar school.
Embassy personnel have used these schools frequently in the past.
Teachers are well trained, classes are small, and no French/Creole
is spoken, allowing an environment in which U.S. children can adjust
The Ecole du Nord International School accepts children from 4 to
12 years of age. Instruction is in English and after primary
education, children are enrolled at Le Bocage International School
for secondary education. However, Ecole du Nord is located in the
north of the island and is not convenient for children living in the
Curepipe, Vacoas, and Floreal areas.
Le Bocage High School (Montagne Ory Moka—Mauritius, Tel:
433-1159) is a private, coeducational dayschool based on the British
and International Baccalaureate system. It offers an educational
program from grades 6–12 leading to an International Baccalaureate
for students of all nationalities. The schoolyear has 3 terms, from
January to April, from May to July and from September to November.
Standards are acceptable, but costs are high. Le Bocage was granted
initial support from the Embassy, and in 1998 the Office of Overseas
Schools offered a grant to the school for the purchase of Pentium
computers. The school is located in a rural area on 8 acres of
property 6 miles from Quatre Bornes, the nearest large town. It is
set on a mountainside, with splendid views over mountains and sea on
one hand, and of Mount Ory on the other.
The Lycee Labourdonnais in Curepipe, a French
Government-supported primary and secondary school (kindergarten
through baccalaureate), follows the French educational system. All
instruction is in French. It maintains high standards and is a good
school for children who speak French.
For secondary school-aged boys, other schools include St.
Joseph's College (Curepipe), Royal College (Curepipe and Port
Louis), and St. Esprit (Quatre Bornes). All have fair academic
reputations. St. Joseph was managed by the Catholic Brothers of
Ireland, who also run several schools in the U.S. under the name of
Christian Brothers. St. Esprit is also Catholic. Royal College is
For girls, several Loreto Convent Schools owned by the Roman
Catholic Church exist in different areas of the island. Queen
Elizabeth College in Rosehill and Maurice Cure in Vacoas are major
institutions run by the Mauritian Government. Several state
secondary schools for both boys and girls have recently been built
in most regions of the islands. All have fair-to-good standards,
French instruction, and are considered the best of their type on the
Facilities at these schools are adequate but not modern. Books
and materials are either available at the school or are sold
locally. Uniforms, required at all schools except the French
schools, are available locally at reasonable prices. Physical
education and other special interest classes are sometimes
available. Schooldays begin around 8 a.m. and end at about 2:30 p.m.
Few schools on the island have school transportation or lunchrooms,
except Le Bocage, which offers both.
U.S. children with experience in only English-language
environments have adjusted to Mauritian education. The fact that
French and Creole are spoken in some of the schools requires a
period of adjustment, but presents an excellent opportunity to
experience new languages.
Exam results on the Higher School Certificate (HSC) Cambridge
Exams among the island's school population are low: less than 50%
with passing scores on average. This may be attributed to
overcrowding and a lack of well-trained teachers in public schools.
To compensate for deficiencies, students can easily arrange for
private tutoring for a nominal fee. The Cambridge and Baccalaureate
Certificates are recognized worldwide.
Most schools in Mauritius are crowded and although children of
diplomats are admitted by special privilege, admission to specific
schools is not always possible. The post advises close examination
of materials on Mauritian schools on file with the Foreign Service
Institute (FSI) Orientation Center and early application to the
school of your choice. The post's administrative officer will assist
with registration before your arrival.
Away From Post Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM Some Americans
have sent their secondary-level children to schools outside
Mauritius. The away-from-post educational allowance is adequate.
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Football (soccer) is the national sport. Basketball, tennis,
badminton, and volleyball are played in some of the schools and
various sport clubs on the island.
Few places in the world offer more beautiful beaches or better
swimming, and the full range of water sports is available. Minimal
danger from sharks exists in most areas. The island is surrounded by
coral reefs that enclose lagoons of brilliant, clear blue water.
Mauritius is known as a scuba diver's paradise; the variety of its
underwater life is rich in fauna and there are several historic
shipwrecks. Surfing is popular at Tamarin Bay on the west coast,
where Indian Ocean swells break on one of the island's most
beautiful sandy beaches. Facilities for water skiing, windsurfing,
and other water sports are available at all beach resort hotels.
Some employees own their own boats and equipment.
Fishing with a rod and line is permitted almost anywhere on the
island. However, underwater spear-fishing is prohibited by law.
Every coastal village has picturesque fishing pirogues with a motor
or sails that you can rent inexpensively. Several world fishing
records are held in Mauritius, and deep-sea boats based at Centre de
Peche in Black River, as well as in Grand Baie, offer big game
fishing at reasonable prices. The private La Morne Anglers' Club has
its headquarters at Black River on the southwest side of the island.
The recently renovated Grand Baie Yacht Club (also private)
organizes class sailing races. Embassy personnel may apply for
membership but need sponsorship. Dinghies can be rented at Le Morne
and Shandrani Hotels. Both places have good sea breezes. Pirogues
can be built, but they are expensive. Sailing craft are sometimes
Mauritius has beautiful mountains and forests, perfect for
hiking. The cliffs on the south coast of the island are magnificent
and offer endless opportunities for walking and picnicking.
The Club Hippique provides facilities for horseback riding and
has jumping events several times a year. Riding dress is jodhpurs or
riding breeches and boots. Children (over age 10) ride in jeans or
slacks and a hunt cap. Riding dress should be brought. Riding
instruction is in French. The Shandrani and Maritim Hotels give
private horseback riding lessons in English as does Domaine les
Pailles. The horseracing season lasts from May to October. The
Mauritius Turf Club, founded in 1812, is the oldest racing club
south of the Equator. Local racehorses have been imported from the
U.K., France, Australia, and South Africa; local stables are
reinforced by new arrivals every year.
Bring equipment for diving, tennis, golf, and water skiing, as
sports equipment here, if available, is expensive. Bring good
walking and hiking shoes as hiking is one of Mauritius' attractions.
Besides the other beach hotels already noted, several first class
hotels, St. Geran, Touessrok, Royal Palm, and La Residence offer
good swimming and sport activities. Touessrok Hotel has its own
private island (Ile aux Cerfs).
Several hotel golf courses exist around the island; greens fees
can be expensive. The Gymkhana Club has an 18-hole golf course, as
well as a swimming pool, tennis courts (lawn and clay), and a
restaurant. Club membership costs $1,300 plus $22 a month.
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Mauritius has many beautiful gardens with statues of Mauritians
renowned for their political and literary achievements. The most
extensive is the botanical garden in Pamplemousses in the north,
which has plants, spice trees, stately palms, and giant water
lilies. Some of the most spectacular scenery is on the southern
coast. It is pleasant to drive along the coastal road and eat and
swim at either Berjaya Hotel or Shandrani Hotel on the southwest
Mauritius has several scenic overlooks such as at La Nicoliere
Reservoir on the far side of Long Mountain. It also has a view of
the whole north and east coastline with many small picturesque
fishing villages in sight. Other activities include:
Casela Bird Park. Located in the southwest part of the island, it
has about 142 species of birds and other animals, including Bengal
Trou aux Cerfs. This extinct volcano is situated on the central
plateau. The Floreal residential area is situated on the slopes of
this volcano. Employees can enjoy a vigorous walk or jog around the
rim. The view of the mountains and island is magnificent.
La Vanille Crocodile Park. The park is located in the south of
the island near Souillac. Besides crocodiles, the park has monkeys,
reptiles, wild pigs, and tortoises.
Domaine les Pailles. This nature/hunting preserve/tourist complex
near Port Louis has several restaurants including Chinese, Italian,
and Indian. There are also carriage rides, four-wheel-drive
excursions, museums, horse-riding and a casino.
Black River Gorge. An overlook in the Black River Gorge National
Park has a spectacular view of the Gorge and the Black River
Mountains, which is the natural habitat of the Mauritian kestrel. A
beautiful winding road extends into the mountains from the Chamarel
turnoff just before reaching Le Morne in the south.
Rochester Falls. Located in the south of the island, Rochester
Falls is reached by a road that cuts through Terracine sugarcane
plantation and turns into a rough cart track near the fields. The
falls drop about 10 meters into a quiet basin. Over the centuries,
the water has eroded the soft basaltic rock, carving strange
columns. The falling water makes unusual sounds that gave rise to
the name Orgues (organs), a name sometimes given to the falls.
Domaine du Chasseur. This holiday camp offers something other
than the sea, away from the bustle and noise of the cities. Situated
at Arise Jonche, it is surrounded by lush vegetation and covers a
fenced-in area of 800 acres, where one can find more than a thousand
deer, boar, wild duck, and various species of birds. One can hunt
according to certain rules, or just walk and enjoy the outdoors. The
restaurant offers excellent local dishes with all sorts of wildgame
Entertainment Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Mauritius has a few good restaurants and nightclubs. Resort
hotels have bars, bands, and dancing at least once a week. A few
movie theaters show French-language films, but rarely in English.
ABC Movie Theaters in Rose Hill and at Le Caudan in Port Louis offer
good-quality films in a spacious and air-conditioned room. Most
entertaining is done in the home. Video clubs all over the island
rent copies of American movies (in English and French)
inexpensively. The video system is PAL, so a multisystem TV and VCR
are necessary. Several amateur theater clubs offer occasional
productions. Charity dances and balls are held from time to time.
Curepipe and several of the resort hotels have casinos. The Plaza
Theater in Rose Hill and the Mahatma Gandhi Institute in Moka have
occasional cultural performances.
Social Activities Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Mauritius has many clubs American employees can join. A
Diplomatic Association exists, but its activism varies with its
membership. The Rotary Club, the Lions Club, the Women's Self-Help
Association, the Mauritius Alliance for Women, and committees for
charities such as Cheshire Home are always looking for new members.
Special Information Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Post Orientation Program
Because of its small size, the post has no formal orientation
program. However, each new employee is briefed on U.S. objectives,
local conditions, etc. New employees are assigned a sponsor, and
post has a detailed Welcome Information Packet.
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Travel from the U.S. to Mauritius is by air. Although the
Department is the final authority, two routes are available. The
first is from the U.S. via Europe, and the second is via the Pacific
through Singapore or Malaysia. Planes arrive daily in Mauritius. All
employees and dependents are met on arrival at Sir Seewoosagur
Ramgoolam International Airport.
Anything shipped to Mauritius should be export-packed and
containerized in heavy waterproof wooden boxes with steel banding.
Effects from the U.S. should be shipped via the nearest U.S.
Despatch Agent and marked as follows:
American Embassy (Employee's Name) Port Louis Mauritius Indian
The ocean port of entry for Mauritius is Port Louis. Goods
shipped from the United States are transshipped in Europe. Transit
time by sea from the U.S. to Mauritius is a minimum of 3 months.
Storage facilities, except for items awaiting customs clearance, are
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Staff members receive duty-free entry of household effects and
Passage Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
American citizens do not require visas to enter Mauritius;
however, tourists require valid immunization certificates and a
Pets Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Employees wishing to bring pets to Mauritius must apply to the
Veterinary Department, Ministry of Agriculture, Reduit for an import
permit, which is required before employees arrive in Mauritius. Also
the Ministry of Agriculture must be notified of the date of the
animal's arrival, so an officer can meet it at the airport. Dogs and
cats must undergo a 6-month quarantine in Government kennels from
the date of their arrival. All expenses are charged to the owner.
During quarantine, only adult owners may check on dogs and cats
daily at fixed hours. The quarantine kennels, at Reduit about 7
miles from downtown Port Louis, are modern, clean, and well
operated, with a Government veterinarian in daily attendance. Dogs,
cats, and other small animals are available as pets locally.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
No firearms may be imported into Mauritius without the prior
written permission of the Chief of Mission. Forward requests to the
post administrative officer at least 30 days in advance of import.
Give a detailed description of the weapon including manufacturer's
name, caliber, type, length of barrel, and serial number. Also
indicate the quantity and types of ammunition being brought. It is
post policy to discourage possession of firearms other than hunting
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
12/31/2001 6:00 PM
The local unit of currency is the Mauritian rupee, which is
divided into 100 cents. The exchange rate, subject to daily
fluctuation, is currently US$ 1= Rs 29.50. Foreign currency may be
brought into the country.
The Embassy does not have accommodation exchange facilities.
Employees normally cash their personal checks at Mauritius
Commercial Bank (MCB) on the ground floor of the Embassy building. A
local checking account may also be opened, and travelers checks are
available. Foreign currency is available, and most major credit
cards are widely accepted.
Mauritius uses the metric system for weights and measures.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 12/31/2001
All personal property imported duty-free must have the duty paid
if sold to buyers without duty-free privileges. Obtain permission
for the sale of personal property in advance.
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
These titles are provided as a general indication of the material
published in this country. The Department of State does not endorse
Bulpin, T.V. Island in a Forgotten Sea. Books of Africa: 1969
(see chapter 22 on Mauritius).
Benedit, Bullon. Mauritius: Problems of a Plural Society. Praeger:
New York, 1965.
Bowman, Larry. Mauritius: Democracy and Development in the Indian
Ocean. Westview: Boulder, 1991.
Cubitt, Gerald. Island of the Indian Ocean. C. Struik: Cape Town,
Hazareesing, K. History of the Indian in Mauritius. Macmillan
Educ. Ltd: London, Basingtoke, 1975. Reprinted in 1976.
Indian Ocean: Five Island Countries. Area Handbook Series. U.S.
Government Printing Office: Washington D.C., 1983.
Lenoir, Philippe. Island of the Sun. Mauritius Advertising
Mannick, A.R. Mauritius: The Development of a Plural Society.
Russell Press Ltd.: Nottingham, 1979.
Mauritius, History and Discovery. Edition Isles de France: Port
Louis, 1974. (English language)
Ministry of Economic Development and Regional Cooperation.
Mauritius: Vision 2020, The National Long- Term Prospective Study.
Port Louis: 1997.
Meade, J. E., et al. The Economic and Social Structure of
Mauritius. Methuen: London, 1961.
Scott, Robert. Limuria: The Lesser Dependencies of Mauritius.
Oxford University Press: London, 1961.
Simmons, Adele Smith. Modern Mauritius: The Politics of
Decolonization. Indiana University Press: Bloomington, 1982.
Tinnus, R. M. and B. Abel/Smith. Social Policies and Population
Growth in Mauritius. Methuen: London, 1961.
Toussaint, Auguste. Early American Trade With Mauritius. Esclapon
Ltd: Port Louis, 1954.
Tonussaint, Auguste. History of the Indian Ocean. Routledge and
Kegail Paul Ltd.: London, 1966.
Local Holidays Last Updated: 12/31/2001 6:00 PM
Local facilities are closed on the following holidays:
New Year's Jan. 1,2 Cavadee* Varies Chinese Spring Festival*
Varies Maha Shivartree* Varies Eid-El-Fitr* Varies Independence Day
Mar. 12 Ougadi* Varies Labor Day May 1 Ganesh Chaturthi* Varies
Divali* Varies All Saints Day Nov. 1 Assumption Day Aug. 15
Christmas Day Dec. 25
*Dates of these holidays are not fixed and change from year to
The Embassy observes local holidays in addition to U.S. holidays.