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中国株レポート
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Geography

The island of Mauritius lies in the Indian Ocean 800 km east of Madagascar between latitudes 19.58' and 20.32' S, covering 1,865 sq km in area. It is a volcanic island, surrounded by a coral reef. Including its other islands, the whole territory covers a land area of 2,040 sq km.

Demography

The population of around 1.1 million is of mixed origin, including people of European, African, Indian and Chinese descent. Almost 42% of the population inhabit the urban area extending from Port Louis - the capital and business centre - on the north-west coast to Curepipe in the centre.

Mauritius has one of the highest literacy rates among developing countries, with over 95% literacy among those under 30. Education is free to university level. Although the official language is English, Creole, French, Hindi and Bhojpuri are also widely spoken, giving Mauritius a richly polyglot population.

The economically active population numbers 407,000, of whom 18.5% are engaged in agriculture, 33.7% in mining and manufacturing, 1% in utilities, 5.2% in construction, 11% in commerce, 6.2% in transport and communication, 1.7% in finance and 22.7% in public services.

History and Political Situation

Following unsuccessful attempts at colonisation by the Dutch in the 17th century, the first permanent inhabitants of Mauritius were 18th century French settlers from the neighbouring island of Reunion (then known as Bourbon). Slaves were introduced from East Africa and Madagascar, whose descendants now comprise 28% of the Mauritian population. In 1810 Britain captured the island, and it was formally ceded to Britain by France in 1814.

After 1831, when slavery was abolished in the British colonies, the Franco-Mauritian planters recruited labourers from India. By 1861 Indians accounted for nearly two-third of the island's population or 192,000 people.

On March 18, 1968 Mauritius became an independent state, remaining a member of the British Commonwealth. The constitution of Mauritius is based on the Westminster model. There is an Assembly made up of 70 members, of whom 62 are elected and 8 nominated by the president. Members are elected for a maximum period of five years according to the "first past the post" system. The president, who is the head of state, is elected for five years on a nomination by the Prime Minister and with the support of members of the assembly. The prime minister is appointed by the President. Legislation to turn Mauritius into a republic was passed in December 1991, and the island became a republic on March 12, 1992.

The present government headed by Sir Anerood Jugnauth, is made up by a coalition of Mouvement Socialist Mauricien ,Mouvement Militant Mauricien, Mouvement des Travaillistes Democrates and Organisation du Peuple Rodriguais. The coalition shares 59 seats out of 66 in the assembly, after the election in 1991. The opposition parties are Mauritius Labour Party, Parti Mauricien Social Democrate and Parti Socialiste Mauricien.

Economy

The island of Mauritius was for a long time an extreme example of a one-crop economy, with sugar production accounting for more than 90% of total cultivable land and 28% of the labour force, and, until recent years, providing about 60% of export earnings. Economic growth, therefore, was largely dependent on climatic conditions and world prices for sugar. However, the dominance of sugar has been eroded by the steadily expanding manufactured export sector, and sugar's share in the gross domestic product declined from 13% in 1979 to 11.3% in 1987, and its share of exports has fallen to about 32%.

The governmental effort to lessen dependence on the sugar sector was focused on developing the Export Processing Zone (EPZ), a sector which concentrates on labour-intensive processing of imported goods for the export market. Within the EPZ, the government offers both local and foreign investors attractive packages of incentives, including tax "holidays"; exemption from import duties on most raw materials and capital goods; free repatriation of capital; profits and dividends; cheap electricity; etc. About 60% of invested capital is locally owned, a further 25% is owned by Hong Kong entrepreneurs, and the remainder is supplied mainly by Pakistani, Indian, French, German and British interests.

The fastest growing EPZ sectors have been textiles and clothing, which now account for 80% of total EPZ exports, more than 68% of EPZ enterprises and 91% of EPZ labour. Other fast growing sectors have been electronic components and leather goods, and emphasis has been put on the development of precision engineering (electronics, watch and instrument making etc.), also skilled crafts (diamond cutting and polishing, furniture, quality goods etc.).

Many of the EPZ industries experienced difficulties in the early 1990s, and several closed down, partly because of huge rises in costs, both of labour and imported raw materials. The government is currently promoting investment in capital-intensive industries producing high value-added goods. It is well aware that the access to developed country markets provided to Mauritian sugar and manufactured exports of the Lome Convention may not survive indefinitely, and the strategy is focused both on diversifying the economy and on moving up market. The Government anticipates that by the turn of the century the economy will rest on four legs - agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and increasingly the service sector. Stock trading in Mauritius dates back almost two centuries, but until recently was carried out via an informal bourse. The modern Stock Exchange of Mauritius began operations in July 1989, with six listed companies. There are now 19 listed companies whose securities are traded on the official market and a further 72 on the OTC market, which started in April, 1990.

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