The authors wish to acknowledge the contributions of the writers of the 1982 edition of Indian Ocean: Five Island Countries, edited by Frederica M. Bunge. Their work provided general background for the present volume.

The authors are grateful to individuals in various government agencies and private institutions who gave of their time, research materials, and expertise in the production of this book. These individuals include Ralph K. Benesch, who oversees the Country Studies--Area Handbook program for the Department of the Army. The authors also wish to thank members of the Federal Research Division staff who contributed directly to the preparation of the manuscript. These people include Sandra W. Meditz, who reviewed all drafts and served as liaison with the sponsoring agency; Marilyn Majeska, who managed editing and book production; Andrea Merrill, who reviewed tables and figures; Barbara Edgerton and Izella Watson, who performed word processing; and Janie L. Gilchrist, David P. Cabitto, and Stephen C. Cranton, who prepared the camera-ready copy.

Also involved in the preparing the text were Mimi Cantwell, who edited chapters; Beverly Wolpert, who performed the prepublication editorial review; and Joan C. Cook, who compiled the index.


Few works offering a close look at the contemporary island societies of the Indian Ocean have been published in the English language. Even fewer works that place those societies in the context of their historical and geographic settings are to be found. This study seeks to contribute in a modest way to fulfillment of the void, offering a compact and objective exposition of the dominant social, political, and economic institutions of the island countries and a view of their current problems and tensions. Analysis and interpretation by the authors must be judged, however, in the light of the scant nature of available research data in many subject areas.

With considerable justification, the reader may question the exclusion of Sri Lanka (the island nation formerly known as Ceylon, an important political force in the Indian Ocean) from other than the more general discussions in this study. That country's close proximity to, and long historical associations with, the Indian subcontinent and its early tutelage in self-rule under the British, beginning nearly two decades before independence, however, distinguish it quite clearly from the island countries in the southwestern Indian Ocean. Moreover, it has been treated already in a separate volume in the series. By the same token, the reader may question the inclusion of Maldives, insofar as, like Sri Lanka, it, too, lies close to the subcontinent in the northern Indian Ocean. Unlike Sri Lanka, however, Maldives appears nowhere else in the Country Study series, and in the view of the authors it warranted treatment here, especially as it shares some concerns of the island countries in the southwestern ocean. Reunion, although also a Mascarene Island like Mauritius, chose to become an integral part of metropolitan France, and thus is not included in this volume.

Measurements are given in the metric system. The spelling of place-names generally follows that established by the United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN) in its latest available gazetteers for the area.

The body of the text reflects information available as of July 1994. Certain other portions of the text, however, have been updated. The Bibliography lists published sources thought to be particularly helpful to the reader.

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