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Basic information about Mauritius

A hypnotic blend of Indian, Chinese, African, French and British influences, Mauritius is a dazzling Indian Ocean island that enchants nearly all who visit. But while its famous white sand beaches and luxurious hotels are its top attractions, Mauritius offers far more to do than most tropical islands, with superb hiking, mountain climbing, diving and ecotourism opportunities.
Off major shipping routes, Mauritius remained uninhabited until the 16th century, allowing it to develop into one of the world's biodiversity hotspots. It was favoured by pirates and occupied briefly by the Dutch before the French brought African slaves to work the sugar plantations. Captured by the British in 1810, Mauritius achieved independence in 1968.

Mauritius today is one of the wealthiest countries in Africa, a successful, multicultural society where the friendly co-existence of peoples and religions expresses itself in croissants for breakfast and curry for dinner, and brightly painted Indian temples sitting alongside French colonial mansions.

Banking hours

Monday to Thursday : 9.15 am - 3.15 pm
Friday: 9.15 am - 3.30 pm
Saturday:9.15 am - 11.15 am (Some banks only).

Banks are also open to coincide with the arrival and departure of international flights at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Airport.

Climate

The temperature on the coastal areas varies between 22°C in winter and 34°C in summer. The sea temperature varies between 22°C and 27°C. In the central part of the island, the maximum daytime temperature varies from about 19°C in August to about 26°C in February. The western and northern regions are warmer and relatively drier than the East and the South.

Conferences

Almost all of our large hotels are equipped and ready to cater for conferences. The number of people that can be accommodated varies from
30 to 500. The International Conference Centre in Grand Bay and the Freeport Exhibition Centre in Mer Rouge can easily accommodate 600
and 1,000 people respectively.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are normally accepted by banks and most hotels, restaurants and tourist shops.

Culture

Mauritius is a blend of diverse cultures and religions. The population
consists of Hindus, Creole, Chinese, Muslims and Europeans.

Currency

The monetary unit is the Mauritian Rupee (Rs.) which is divided into 100 cents (cs). At the latest exchange rate, one Euro is worth around Rs. 30.

Customs

  • Passengers over 18 years of age may import the following duty-free items: 250 grams of tobacco (including cigars and cigarettes), 1 litre of spirits, 2 litres of wine, ale or beer, one quarter litre of Eau de Toilette and perfume not exceeding 100 ml.
  • A plant import permit must be obtained from the Ministry of Agriculture, prior to the introduction of plants and plant material including cuttings, flowers, bulbs, fresh fruits, vegetables and seeds.
  • It is prohibited to introduce sugarcane and parts thereof, soil micro-organisms and invertebrate animals.
  • All imported animals including animal products need an import permit from the Ministry of Agriculture and a health certificate from the country of origin.
  • Drug trafficking is illegal and carries very heavy penalties. Firearms and ammunition need import permits and must be declared on arrival.

Driving

People in Mauritius drive on the left-hand side of the road and give way to the right. Foreigners with a driving licence issued by a Competent Authority in their respective countries are allowed to drive during their stay in Mauritius.

Economy

The Mauritian economy is based on four sectors: Textile, Tourism, Sugar and Services.

Electricity

220 volts.

Emergency

Police(ambulance ) :999, Police : 208-7018/20
Fire : 995, Samu : 114

Flights from Europe

Air Mauritius operates over 30 weekly flights to and from all the European major cities including 15 combined flights with Air France to and from Paris.
British Airways operates four weekly flights, Emirates Airlines three and Condor one.

Geography

Mauritius is located approximately 2000 kilometres to the south eastern coast of Africa and lies east of Madagascar on 20°5, 57.5E. The country covers an area of 1865km_ with 330 kilometres of coastline. Mauritius is 45km in width and 65km in length.

Government

Mauritius is a democratic state based on the Westminster model and enjoys political stability.

Health

No vaccinations are required. However a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers over 1 year of age who arrive from areas where yellow fever cases are reported.

History

Of volcanic origin and generally sheltered by barriers of coral reefs forming natural, safe, crystal clear lagoons, Mauritius has long been a dream destination. Known to the Arabs as early as the 10th century, but officially «discovered» in 1505 by the Portuguese navigator Pedro Mascarenhas, the island was occupied successively by the Dutch (1598-1712) and the French (1715-1810), and was ceded to Great Britain in 1814 through the Treaty of Paris. On 12 March 1968, Mauritius became Independent. Republic Day was proclaimed on 12 March 1992.

Language

Most people in Mauritius are bilingual and are equally fluent in English and French. Creole and French are the main languages in the everyday environment and several oriental languages are also spoken.

Medical services

Free public medical facilities are widely available. Private clinics provide medical services for a fee.

Newspapers

Besides a wide choice of local papers, the pick of the European and American press is available.

Nudism

Nudism and topless sunbathing are frowned upon on our public beaches. No hotel permits nude sunbathing on beaches. Topless sunbathing is sometimes tolerated.

Population

1.2 million (Year 2003)
Population literacy rate 82.9%

Public holidays

There are 15 public holidays every year. Seven of them are fixed holidays: January 1st & 2nd, 1st February, 12th March, 1st May, 2nd November and 25th December. The remaining public holidays are religious festivals whose dates vary from year to year.

Security

A tourist police service has been set up to ensure security in tourist zones.
An anti-terrorist law has also been proclaimed. A specific law relating to all tourist activities and corrupt practices has also been voted.

The following essential pieces of advice are meant for you :

  • Keep an eye on all personal belongings at all times.
  • Be careful when withdrawing money from a cash point.
  • Avoid wearing expensive jewellery.
  • Do not leave anything inside your car.
  • (For trips or purchases) use only recognised operators or suppliers.
  • Keep your passports, plane tickets, jewellery of value and large sums of money in safe custody.
  • For sea excursions, do not rent boats with inadequate security standards.
  • During individual sea trips, always notify the person responsible for the boat house.
  • Do not go swimming in areas where it is forbidden.

Shopping

Shopping hours in our main cities range from 9.30 am to 7.30 pm (Monday-Saturday). Some shops are open till noon on Sundays and public holidays. Many duty free shops and modern shopping centres (Caudan, Curepipe, Floréal Square, Happy World House, Orchard Centre) offer a wide choice of products.
Please note that there are no shops open in Rose-Hill, Curepipe and Quatre-Bornes on Thursday afternoon.

Tipping

Tipping is not compulsory.

Time & Telecommunications

Mauritius is four hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and three hours ahead (2 hours in summer) of mid-European Time. Mauritius has international direct dialling facilities to most parts of the world as well as high speed fax and internet services.

TV channels

Satellite TV and local tv & radio are available in most of the hotels.

VAT

A value added tax of 15% is payable on goods and services including hotel and restaurant bills.

Visa & entry requirements

A visitor must be in possession of a valid passport and a return or onward ticket. A visitor’s visa is normally granted for a period of two weeks to one month upon arrival, to almost all holders of a valid passport, with one or two exceptions. Visitors are strongly recommended to contact the Passport and Immigration Office in Mauritius or the nearest Mauritian Embassy or Consulate. The visa can be extended upon request at the Passport and Immigration Office, Sterling House, 11-19 Lislet Geoffroy Street, Port-Louis, Tel : (230) 210-9312 to 210-9317 Fax (230)210-9322.

What to wear

Take your best beach and casual wear. In the winter months (June -September), carry some light woollen clothing for the cool evenings.
Please show due respect when visiting religious places. Wear appropriate clothing (and remove leather shoes and belts) when entering the premises.

Working Hours

Private Sector : Monday to Friday: 8.30 am - 4.15 pm Saturday : 9am -noon (Some offices)
Public Sector : Monday to Friday: 9 am - 4 pm
Saturday : 9 am - noon (Skeleton service).