We all talk about Mauritius, but what is it? Where is it located? Who lives in Mauritius? Let’s read a brief on it here.
A Beauty Surrounded By Water
Mauritius is a volcanic island, located in the Indian Ocean, next to Réunion and quite close to Madagascar. It is a democratic and republic country. It is composed of other islands under its sovereignty, such as Rodrigues, Agaléga and Saint Brandon.
In French, the island is known as “Île Maurice” and in native language, as “Moris”. Mauritius is well-known for its turquoise and white sandy beaches. Moreover, its climate and nature as well as its standard of living attract more than 1 million tourists yearly. Hence, it is a popular tourist destination, this is why, it is often interpreted as a pearl in the Indian Ocean.
A Short History Of Mauritius
Historically, it was the Arabs who discovered the island but they did not land on it. At that time, they named Mauritius as “Dina Arobi”. This was proven by the Italian cartographer, Alberto Cantino, on his map in the beginning of 1500s. During that era, the island was completely uninhabited. It was full of trees, a real raw material heaven to construct ships.
“Ilha do Cirne”
In the beginning of 1500s, the Portuguese sailor Diego Pereira came to establish on the island with his troops. He named the land “Ilha do Cirne” and soon departed to his country.
Decades later, in 1598, the Dutch arrived and landed on the island. A troop under the command of Admiral Wybrand Van Warwyck, occupied the country for a long period of time. They renamed it to “Mauritius”, after the Prince Maurice Van Nassau. The Dutch introduced several commodities like the sugarcane, animals, etc. They exploited the island severely. As the island was rich with Ebony trees, they used the woods to repair their ships, trades and so on. The Dutch finally left Mauritius in 1710, after repeated failed attempts to develop a community.
After the Dutch, the French came to colonize the island and renamed it to, “Isle de France”. It was during the French colony that the Capital of Mauritius was born, Port-Louis. All under the administration of the Governor Mahé de Labourdonnais. At first, it was just a naval base before it grew and became the main City of the island. Mahé de Labourdonnais constructed several important buildings in the country, where most still exist today. Examples, the Château de Mon Plaisir, Line Barracks, Government House, etc.
The great battle…
Unfortunately, the French occupied the island only around a century, before they were defeated by the British in the famous Battle of Grand-Port. In 1810, the British took over the island and renamed it back to “Mauritius”. The Governor Robert Farquhar developed Mauritius economically and politically hereafter. Bear in mind, slavery was a reality during that time. The slaves came from different African nations to work here and develop the country. Slavery was abolished in 1835! Since that, thousands of workers were introduced to Mauritius to work. The first indentured laborers came from India at Aapravasi Ghat, a UNESCO site today in Port-Louis.
Mauritius became independent from the British on 12th March 1968. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, also known as the Father of the Nation, from Labour Party (which fought massively to obtain independence), became the first Prime Minister. In 1992, the island became Republic, where Sir Veerasamy Ringadoo, became the first President. During the same year, Cassam Uteem replaced him as President.
Diversity is wonderful…
It is these diversities which make the country amazing. Mauritius is composed of different religions, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Chinese community and others without forgetting spiritual and non-spiritual beliefs. All of them live in peace and in harmony. These various beliefs have brought a major mutual understanding and respect as well as learning from others.
Mauritians are multilingual. The mother-tongue is Mauritian Creole, but the main national languages are English and French. Oriental languages such as Bhojpuri, Mandarin, Hindi are still spoken by few. Mauritians are nice people, ready to help and will welcome you from the bottom of their heart!
Cultures & Arts
A population with several diversities will lead to different cultures and arts. The African and Indian cultures, with a mixture of Western culture are rich locally. The main local music is Séga together with different genres.
The fashion trend is both from a mixture of Western and Indian cultures. The local foods are very popular world wide. Our cuisines are a mixture of European and Asian foods. They say when you come to Mauritius, do not forget to taste the local dishes which are unique. We do have popular writers, cartoonists, painters, musicians, examples, Malcolm de Chazal, J. M. G. Le Clézio. Same goes with Sports, we have famous athletes who have brilliantly achieved international events, like Bruno Julie, a boxer, who won the first Olympics medal in Beijing in 2008.
Economy & Politics
Since the introduction of sugarcane in the country, the entire economy principally relied on the agricultural sector. We used to have many sugar factories before. Sugar exportation to European countries were doing great. Then in the beginning of 1980s, textile industry started booming. The agriculture and textile sectors contributed enormously in the economy.
In the same line of thought, we got tourism sector in the 1990s and today this sector is the pillar in our economy. Agriculture is mostly dead nowadays and textile sector is knowing a terrible crisis. The diversification of the economy has lead to many new sectors like finance, information and technology, to grow the economy. Mauritius is welcoming more than 1 million tourists per year. The economy is ranked among the highest in Africa with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita of around USD22,000.
Education and healthcare are free…
Education is free in Mauritius from pre-primary to tertiary levels, except in private institutions. The literacy rate is more than 90%. Secondary education includes O and A-Level, which are carried by the University of Cambridge International Examinations. The healthcare system is free as well in public hospitals. Most people travel by bus, car and motorcycle. The government is implementing a tram project, known as the Metro Express. The international airport is located in Plaine Magnien and the sea port in Port-Louis. Mauritius does not have any military, but para-military units exist to cope with social problems and the protection of the nation.
Foreign relations and organizations
Because we are a small country, largely dependent on trades, we have maintain good friendly foreign relations with several countries. India, China, France, South Africa, United Kingdom, are our main economic partners. Mauritius depends largely on other countries to import goods and services. With a strong foreign relations and economy, we form part in many organizations like the World Trade Organizations (WTO), Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), Commonwealth, COMESA, etc.
Nature & Climate
It goes without saying that Mauritius is famous for its nature. Gorgeous beaches, dreamy mountains, greenly gorges and trails. It inhabits rarest animals too and plants, like the Pink Pigeons, Ebony, Kestrel and others. The Dodo Bird existed only in Mauritius but was extincted centuries ago. Now, it is a symbol for the island. Also, it is good to mention that Mauritius is a volcanic island aging a couple of millions old. Today, it is regrettable to say that now less than 2% of native forest exist, due to economic developments.
Most of the native forests are in the Black River Gorges, which is also the first national park locally. More than that, Mauritius has few mountain ranges and isolated peaks. Amazing waterfalls and hundreds of rivers are present on the island. Mauritius’s biodiversity is fantastic!
A tropical island
The climate in Mauritius is tropical, with two seasons, summer and winter. Summer season is from November to April and winter from May to October. The country used to face dangerous cyclones before and still today. But since some years, flash floods have caused more damages. Temperature in summer can go up to 36°C.
Mauritians, have come from a long way after independence to now. With motivations, hard works, developments, progress continued and is still continuing, even under different political regimes. Today, the island is a jewel in the African regions and Indian Ocean economically, politically and socially. To conclude, this is a brief of Mauritius, the shining star in the Indian Ocean!