Mauritius is an African island nation that occupies an area of roughly 790 square miles that is situated within the Indian Ocean. According to the World Bank, the economy of Mauritius had grown significantly since gaining independence in 1968 when it was considered a low-income economy. One of the leading economic experts at the time, Professor James Meade, believed that the nation had very little chance of making significant economic progress. He thought that due to Mauritius' small size, it would be forever trapped in a Malthusian trap which would limit its economic potential. Despite the bleak picture that Professor Meade painted, Mauritius was able to fully utilize the natural resources available to achieve substantial economic growth. Some of the nation's natural resources include the arable land, the beautiful scenery, and the fish.
Natural Resources of Mauritius
Arable land is one of the most critical natural resources in Mauritius. According to the Economy Watch website, arable land made up roughly 39% of the nation's total area. Some of the main crops grown in Mauritius include sugarcane, bananas, and corn. The government of Mauritius has set up the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security to provide oversight to the agricultural sector. Apart from using the arable land within its borders, the government of Mauritius also leases land from other nations such as Mozambique to increase the area under Mauritian crops. In 2010, the Mauritian government leased 91 square miles of land from the Mozambican government for agricultural use. Despite the prominence of the nation's agricultural sector, most of the food consumed within Mauritius, close to 70% according to some estimates, is imported from other nations. Since Mauritius imports most of its food, the nation's food security is affected by the change in global food prices.
Sugarcane is the most important crop grown within Mauritius and in 2001 it accounted for close to 70% of the nation's cultivated land which was approximately 36% of the country's total land area. Most of the sugarcane grown in Mauritius is grown in extensive plantations with 21 plantations accounting for more than half of the total land under sugarcane in Mauritius. Apart from the large-scale sugarcane plantations, Mauritius also has a significant number of small-scale sugarcane farmers who are estimated to be more than 30,000. Due to the growth of other sectors such as tourism and manufacturing, the prominence of sugar has dramatically diminished. Sugarcane plantations in Mauritius are incredibly efficient as they make use of the sugarcane remains after processing, known as bagasse, to generate electricity.
Tea is also one of the crops grown in Mauritius, but in recent years, its prominence has diminished significantly. There are several reasons for the decline of tea production in Mauritius such as the high production cost and the insufficient labor force. In 1990, tea plants were grown on an area close to 12 square miles of Mauritian land, but in 2001 it was grown on 2.5 square miles of land. Due to the decline in tea production, most of the tea consumed in Mauritius is imported from other countries.
One of the most critical natural resources in Mauritius is the forests. Estimates indicate that close to 20% of the nation's entire territory is covered by forests. The forests were vital during the colonial period as they provided raw materials for several industries. Due to their importance, a massive number of trees were cut down, and the forested area in Mauritius declined dramatically. To counteract the effect of the rapid deforestation several exotic trees such as the eucalyptus, the beefwood, the Moreton Bay pine, and the Japanese cedar were introduced to Mauritian forests. Mauritius is one of the unique nations in Africa because it needs to import wood products due to the high demand.
Due to its position within the Indian Ocean, Mauritius has access to a wide variety of fish. The government of Mauritius set up the Ministry of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, and Shipping to manage its marine resources. Some of the most common fish caught within Mauritius' waters include blue marlin, dogtooth tuna, black marlin, and yellowfin tuna. The government of Mauritius cooperates with the governments of Japan and India to improve its fishing industry. Fish farming is also common in Mauritius, and there are several species kept including sea bream and channel bass.
Minerals are some of the most critical natural resources in Mauritius as they contribute significantly to the economy. The chief minerals extracted from the island include basalts and lime. Mauritian basalt is of high quality and is primarily used in building and construction. Lime in Mauritius is obtained from two primary sources, the coral sand around the island and the local coral limestone. There are several deposits of polymetallic nodules within the waters around Mauritius that are believed to be extremely valuable. Research has shown that the nodules contain high quantities of manganese and iron as well as small quantities of Cobalt. The nodules are situated on the ocean floor at a depth of roughly 13,123.36 feet which makes it extremely difficult to extract.
Mauritius is often considered one of the most beautiful nations in Africa and the natural beauty is one of the most critical natural resources. Most of the tourists who visit Mauritius cite the islands natural beauty as the main factor that attracted them to the island. Some of the most beautiful sights in Mauritius include the Île aux Cerfs Island, Black River Gorges National Park, the city of Port Louis, and Ganga Talao. There are also several waterfalls in Mauritius such as the Chamarel waterfalls, Alexandra waterfalls, Rochester waterfalls, and the Exil waterfalls.
Economic Growth In Mauritius
Several economic institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary fund expect Mauritius to continue on its path on economic growth. The strategies put in place by the government are one of the main reasons why the nation is expected to experience economic growth.
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