Mauritius has been an independent member of the Commonwealth since 1968, and became a republic in 1992. It has a population of 1.3 million. The mostly volcanic land area of 1,860 sq km lies east of Madagascar. Mauritius has fertile land with sugar as its dominant crop accounting for one third of exports. Apart from encouraging tourism, the Government has created a manufacturing sector with a range of investment incentives, free trade zones and a freeport. Garment manufacture has been particularly successful. More recently, a financial services sector has developed, including a stock exchange, to take advantage of Mauritius’ location offshore India and Africa.