The Island of Mauritius – Luxurious Holiday Destination and a Tax Haven for Looters
Mauritius is not only a luxurious holiday destination but also a place with a rich and diverse flora and fauna unique only to the island. This includes the dodo, an extinct flightless bird, which was the size of a small ostrich. But Mauritius is also a notorious tax haven for illicit dealings.
Economy of Mauritius
Located 1200 miles off the African coast to the southeast in the Indian Ocean, the island of Mauritius is a relatively small country covering an area of 790 sq. miles and has a population of about 1.2 million people. It is ranked highly economically with a gross domestic product (GDP) of well over $20 billion and a GDP per capita of more than $16 million. This makes it one of the top ten richest countries in Africa.
Other than a high GDP, the World Bank ranked Mauritius 25th out of 190 economies worldwide in its Ease of Doing Business Index of 2018. This makes it an upper middle-income economy, much farther ahead than a majority of African countries.
Tourism in Mauritius
The country remains a popular holiday destination and especially for those keen on privacy and not mindful of luxurious spending. With a warm tropical climate, sandy beaches and diverse flora and fauna, Mauritius attracts tourists in droves. In 2012, the country won the World’s Best Beach and World’s Leading Island Destination at the World Travel Awards locking its position in the list of top tourist destinations in Africa.
The dodo bird of Mauritius
While many amazing animals and plants can be found in Mauritius for these tourists to enjoy, it is unfortunate that none gets to see a dodo. This is simply due to human activity on the island, which like in the case of northern white rhinos, led to the eventual extinction of the dodos.
The dodo was a large flightless bird native to the island and became extinct in around 1662, less than a hundred years from when Dutch sailors inhabited the island in 1598. It was roughly a meter tall and weighed between 23 – 29 lb. It’s history, appearance and behavior is not very consistent as records of the birds were not kept. Archaeologists have had to rely on a few drawings and excavations from a swamp in Mauritius named Mare aux Songes to depict an image of the dodo. The birds which are thought to have been flightless due to readily available food quickly became extinct with the onset of the Dutch sailors who hunted them for food. Their inability to fly also made it easy to catch them.
The memory of the dodos is kept alive through various media such as museums, art and even items like currency. In Mauritius, it appears in the coat of arms, coins and as a watermark in all banknotes. Environmental protection organizations such as the Center for Biological Diversity and the Durell Wildlife Conservation Trust use dodos to raise awareness on environmental conservation.
Politics in Mauritius
Politically, Mauritius ranks first in Africa for good governance. In 2017, it ranked 16th globally in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index and was declared the only African country with a “full democracy”.
But while the country appears to be doing great, it has also been criticized for being a tax haven and consequently encouraging money laundering to the tune of billions of dollars. Looters of public coffers hide the money in offshore accounts in Mauritius, which has come at the expense of other African countries.