The effects of Cyclone Claudette in 1979 and of
falling world sugar prices in the early 1980s led the government to
initiate a vigorous program of agricultural diversification and develop
the processing of imported goods for the export market. The country
formally broke ties with the British Crown in March 1992, becoming a
republic within the Commonwealth.
In addition to sugarcane, textile production and
tourism are the leading industries. Primary education is free, and
Mauritius boasts one of the highest literacy rates in sub-Saharan
With a complicated ethnic mix—about 30% of
the population is of African descent and the remainder is mostly of Indian
descent, both Hindu and Muslim—political allegiances are organized
according to class and ethnicity.
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