Yet look beyond the beauty and beaches, and you’ll find a rising global star that has successfully evolved from a resource-poor volcanic island (with an economy heavily reliant on sugar cane and textiles) into one of Africa’s wealthiest nations (GDP per capita).
What’s behind the ‘Mauritian miracle’? Defying geographical stereotypes, Mauritius’s economic success owes much to a winning combination of political stability, democratic government, intelligent administration and a monetary and fiscal flexibility that has allowed it to successfully weather global financial storms.
Safe, progressive, and with a strong education and health system, Mauritius is a tropical haven that actually functions.
Mauritius has something of a patchwork past. First discovered by the Arabs, it has since been colonized by the Dutch, French and finally British. The result is a multi-cultural heritage that translates into an eclectic culture (think Creole music, French style and British efficiency) and makes for a welcoming, friendly place to both be and do business. One of the island’s stand-out strengths are its people; inspiringly warm, educated and inherently open. With both English and French as the official national languages, it also makes for a versatile, easy place to be.
Testament to this is the growing number of expats (now numbering over 25,000 in a 150,000 strong population) who range from retirees to young families drawn to the favourable tax advantages, high quality of living and increasingly dynamic, and efficient, business culture.
While Mauritius’s 9 provinces are spread over an area of 1,860 km2 and a coastline of 177 km, locals tend to refer to the 4 coasts, so you will either be on the north, east, south or west of the island. While the international airport is located close to the south-eastern tip, the capital of Port Louis is located to the north-west, a 1.5 hour drive away. Here, Mauritius’s financial heart beats (picture modern high-rises, international corporations and a fast-growing ‘cyber-city’), but it’s the bustling town of Grand-Baie to the north where the island’s best restaurants, boutiques and culture can be found. The west coast town of Tamarin and surrounding area offers a more laid-back side to the island, combining services with beautiful beaches and easy access to Mauritius’s central mountains. To the south, a handful of residential developments and luxury hotels give access to Mauritius’s beautiful beaches and world-class kite-surfing scene, while to the quieter east, you’ll find the sort of wild, tropical beauty that feels a world away from the progress and development catching like wild-fire through the rest of the island. While a single highway between north and south used to make exploration arduous, the recent completion of a more extensive highway means you can hop around with relative ease.