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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 significant advantage.

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 April.

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 at 8%.

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 their education.

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 year.

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 PM

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: 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 is:

Name Department of State 2450 Port Louis Pl., Washington, D.C. 20521-2450

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 region (Floreal/Vacoas).

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 expect.

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, including contraceptives.

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 6:00 PM

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 Plateau.

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 locally.

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 reserve tanks.

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 fair-to-good quality.

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 Catholic.


Dependent Education

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 Education).

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 more easily.

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 Mauritian administered.

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 island.

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 for sale.

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 coast.

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 tigers.

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 specialties.

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 Ocean

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 not available.

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 automobiles.

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 return ticket.

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 weapons.

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 6:00 PM

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 unofficial publications.

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, Johannesburg, 1975.

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 Bureau, 1976.

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 year.

The Embassy observes local holidays in addition to U.S. holidays.

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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