Mauritian society is highly multi-ethnic. Most of the island residents are the descendants of people from the Indian subcontinent. Mauritius also has large immigrant populations from continental Africa, Madagascar, France, Great Britain, and China, among other places.
The official language of Mauritius is English. All government administrative documents are therefore drawn up in English. Together with English, French is also used in instruction in the educational system. French, however, predominates in the media, both broadcast and printed as well as with business and in corporate affairs . Mauritian Creole, which is derived from French with influences from the other dialects, is widely spoken on the island and is considered the native tongue of the country. Creole was the language used by the African slaves to communicate with their French masters. Today, Creole is used in everyday life by all Mauritians. Hindi is also widely spoken, though restricted to the Indian community. Several other languages, including Arabic, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Punjabi and dialects of Chinese, such as Cantonese, Hakka and Mandarin, are also spoken. The Indian languages are spoken by descendants of the labourers brought from British India during the British rule.
The Indo-Mauritians (when the ethnic groups are combined) form approximately 70% of the total population, the remaining 30% being mostly Creoles. The French and Chinese make up the smaller minorities. There are approximately 30,000 Mauritians of Chinese descent, from the Hakka, Mandarin, and Cantonese language groups. More than 90% of the Sino-Mauritian community are Roman Catholic; the remainder are largely Buddhist.
Small groups of foreign students from Europe or the Indian Ocean region are also present. The recent years have seen a steady flow of foreign workers, mostly Chinese women, into the textile industry, Indian workers in the construction industry and Taiwanese men in the harbour-related activities. Immigration policy does not provoke much debate in Mauritius, and the relative economic stability of the island is attracting more foreign workers.
The majority of Mauritians practice Hinduism (52%). Roman Catholic 28%, Islam (16.6%), Buddhism (2.5%), Adventist Protestants (2%), Sikhism (0.3%) and other religions are also followed.