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The economy was one-sided until the early 1980s, when the main source of income was sugar cane cultivation. When the world market price of cane sugar fell dramatically in the early 1980s, the government began to seek diversification of the economy and since 1982 has shifted its attention to industrialisation. Thus, the share of sugarcane production and industry in the gross national product declined. The textile industry became the most important industrial branch of the country. In 2017, it was the main foreign exchange earner; sugarcane and tourism followed.

The government forced the recruitment of foreign industrial companies in the so-called free zone of export industry (Export Processing Zone, EPZ), which has been driving the growth of the economy ever since. The advantages of this free zone are the cheap and well-educated labour force and the substantial tax benefits. Furthermore, the government aims to attract high-tech industries and tries to promote tourism even more. The food industry is also being expanded.

Mauritius has a road network of 2000 km, 93% of which is asphalted. One motorway runs across the island from the airport to Port Louis. Port Louis is the only port city. There is no railway, but there is an international airport. Air Mauritius is the national airline. GDP per capita in 2017 was $22,300. In 2017, Mauritius had an unemployment rate of 7.1%.


Sugar is the main source of agricultural income for Mauritius. Sugar cane was brought by the Dutch from Batavia (Indonesia) in 1639. At present, 80% of all arable land is under sugar cane cultivation. On the large plantations, about 5500 farm labourers work. In addition, there are about 35,000 farmers who grow their own sugar cane. Each year Mauritius produces about 700,000 tons of sugar in 16 factories.

Tomatoes and potatoes are sometimes grown among the sugar cane. Because of the dangers of monoculture, more and more agricultural land is being used for other products.

One of these (export) products is tea. It was only in the nineteenth century that tea became a real agricultural product and has now grown to an area of 40 km2. Tea is mainly grown on the higher central plateau. There are currently five tea factories. Mauritius tea faces strong competition from other tea producing countries such as Sri Lanka (Ceylon tea). Vanilla-flavoured tea is almost considered a national drink.

Tobacco has been cultivated since the time of the Dutch. Only in the last 75 years has it become a fully-fledged agricultural product. Until now it has been cultivated for the local market. In recent years 800 tons of tobacco have been produced. If the quality improves, it could even become an export product. Rice, the most important food for the Mauritian, is imported. Potatoes are increasingly grown for domestic consumption, at present about 20,000 tonnes a year. Other agricultural products include maize, peanuts, onions, garlic and various types of leafy vegetables and herbs.

Fruit production includes pineapples, bananas, papayas, mangoes, lychees, watermelons and citrus fruits. Coffee is cultivated on a small scale.

Livestock and Fisheries

Chicken products and eggs are only produced for domestic consumption. Meat mostly has to be imported. Only goats are bred for meat production. The fish industry on Mauritius is developing rapidly. In particular, canned tuna has become an export product since 1972. Finfish, crabs and oysters are kept in salt-water tanks. The possibilities of exploiting seaweed and shrimps are currently being investigated. Attempts are also being made to farm and exploit freshwater fish.


In the 1960s Mauritius began to industrialise, initially for the local market. After the conclusion of agreements between Mauritius and the European Union, it became interesting for Mauritius to start producing for export. In return, the European countries were encouraged to invest in Mauritius. Almost sixty companies set up business in Mauritius, creating 90,000 jobs. The manufactured products are exported ($2.4 billion in 2017) to Europe, United States, Japan, East and South Africa, among others. Products made include textiles, watches, plush animals, sunglasses, lenses and ship models. Many products bought in Europe then bear the stamp "made in Mauritius" and guarantee good quality. The industry for the local market is also doing well; among other things, liquor, cigarettes, furniture and shipbuilding. Imports include food and beverages, petroleum products, cement, iron, steel, machinery and transport equipment and parts. The total amount of imported goods in 2017 was $5 billion.


Ellis, R. / Mauritius, Rodrigues & RĂ©union

Pahlen, C. von der / Mauritius

Singh, S. / Mauritius, RĂ©union & Seychelles
Lonely Planet

Te gast in Mauritius
Informatie Verre reizen

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
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