The estimated population of Mauritius in July 1993 was 1,106,516
with a population growth rate of 0.95 percent for 1993. According
to the 1990 census the population was 1,065,988, of whom 34,292
lived on Rodrigues and 170 on outer islands. The country's population
density, more than 537 inhabitants per square kilometer, is one
of the highest in the world. The majority of the island's inhabitants
are young; some 58.6 percent were under the age of twenty-nine in
1990. The capital, Port Louis, is the largest city, with a population
of 142,645. Other large metropolitan areas, in descending order,
are Beau BassinRose Hill, Vacoas-Phoenix, Curepipe, and Quatre Bornes.
In 1991 the population was relatively evenly divided between those
residing in rural and urban areas.
The rate of population increase grew to between 3 percent and 4
percent in the 1950s, resulting, in large part, from the elimination
of malaria, higher living standards, and improved health care. Worried
that such high growth rates would impede the island's development
and tax its resources, the government and private groups instituted
extensive family planning efforts. Family planning services were
centralized under the administration of the Maternal and Child Health
Care Division of the Ministry of Health in 1972, and together with
the nongovernmental Action Familiale, which promoted natural techniques
of birth control, reduced the country's birthrate significantly.
The rate dropped to around 2 percent in the 1960s, and fell to 1.1
percent in 1973. In the 1980s, the rate fell below 1 percent. According
to a Ministry of Health publication, the following methods of birth
control were used in 1985: birth control pills, 40 percent; barrier
methods, 21 percent; natural methods, 16 percent; intrauterine device
(IUD), 10 percent; tubal ligation, 8 percent; Depo Provera, 5 percent.
Abortion is illegal, but a Mauritian family planning official has
estimated that there is one abortion for every live birth. The crude
birthrate in 1991 was 20.7 births per 1,000 population, and the
crude death rate stood at 6.6 per 1,000.