Mauritius Mauritius Flag

Although known to Arab and Malay sailors as early as the 10th century, Mauritius was first explored by the Portuguese in 1505; it was subsequently held by the Dutch, French, and British before independence was attained in 1968. A stable democracy with regular free elections and a positive human rights record, the country has attracted considerable foreign investment and has earned one of Africa's highest per capita incomes. Recent poor weather and declining sugar prices have slowed economic growth, leading to some protests over standards of living in the Creole community.



Great dive locations in Mauritius :

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Understand


History
The discovery of Mauritius Island was first made by the Arab sailors, at this time the island was a dense forest. There is no exact date of when Mauritius was discovered by the Arabs, it is said to be around the 9th century. But the Arabs sailors were not interested in settling on the island. Fernandez Pereira, a Portuguese sailor who saw the island decided to give it the name of Cerne. Discovered by the Portuguese in 1505, Mauritius was subsequently held by the Dutch, French, and British before independence was attained in 1968. But the Portuguese sailors were not interested to settle on the island. The first to colonise the island were the Dutch. They took possession of the island in 1598. The Dutch settlers came on the island by a bay in the south eastern part of the island which was named Warwyck Haven after the commander VanWarwyck, the bay is now known as Grand Port. Mauritius also got its name during this period; the island was named after the Prince of Holland Mauritz de Nassau.
The Dutch left the island in 1710, but before leaving they had introduced on the island monkeys, sugar cane, and the java deer. But when they left Mauritius, there were almost no more dodos on the island as it was their main source of food. The dodo was a large flightless bird very sociable and very easy to capture. When the Dutch left the island they also left on the island the slaves that ran away from their masters. The French settled on the island in 1715 and also landed at the bay in the southeast and named it Port Bourbon. They made settlement on the north-western side of the island which became the harbour and was named Port Louis which is also the capital of Mauritius. During the French settlement there has been a lot of development in the country. Mahé de Labournnais whose statue is found in Port Louis in face of the harbour is known as the founder of the capital city. The British took possession of Mauritius in 1810 after a battle between French and British. From then Mauritius was under the rule of British until they attained independence on the 12 March 1968 within the commonwealth. Slavery was officially abolished in 1835. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam also known as the "Father of the Nation" was the one who brought the island to independence and did a lot for the country. On the 12 March 1992, Mauritius became a Republic.

A stable democracy with regular free elections and a positive human rights record, the country has attracted considerable foreign investment and has earned one of Africa's highest per capita incomes. Recent poor weather and declining sugar prices have slowed economic growth leading to some protests over standards of living in the Creole community.

Climate
Tropical, modified by southeast trade winds; warm, dry winter (May to November); hot, wet, humid summer (November to May); Natural hazards : Tropical cyclones (November to April);but most...



Mauritius is a small island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar.

Regions


There are 9 districts
  • Black River
  • Flacq
  • Grand Port
  • Moka
  • Pamplemousses
  • Plaines Wilhems
  • Port Louis
  • Riviere du Rempart
  • Savanne


  • And 3 dependencies
  • Agalega Islands
  • Cargados Carajos Shoals (Saint Brandon)
  • Rodrigues


  • Cities
  • Port Louis - Capital
  • Curepipe
  • Quatre Bornes
  • Flic en Flac
  • Pamplemousses
  • Beau Bassin-Rose Hill


  • Other Destinations
  • Macchabee Bel Ombre Nature Preserve
  • Domaine de Chasseurt Nature Preserve


  • Understand


    History
    The discovery of Mauritius Island was first made by the Arab sailors, at this time the island was a dense forest. There is no exact date of when Mauritius was discovered by the Arabs, it is said to be around the 9th century. But the Arabs sailors were not interested in settling on the island. Fernandez Pereira, a Portuguese sailor who saw the island decided to give it the name of Cerne. Discovered by the Portuguese in 1505, Mauritius was subsequently held by the Dutch, French, and British before independence was attained in 1968. But the Portuguese sailors were not interested to settle on the island. The first to colonise the island were the Dutch. They took possession of the island in 1598. The Dutch settlers came on the island by a bay in the south eastern part of the island which was named Warwyck Haven after the commander VanWarwyck, the bay is now known as Grand Port. Mauritius also got its name during this period; the island was named after the Prince of Holland Mauritz de Nassau.
    The Dutch left the island in 1710, but before leaving they had introduced on the island monkeys, sugar cane, and the java deer. But when they left Mauritius, there were almost no more dodos on the island as it was their main source of food. The dodo was a large flightless bird very sociable and very easy to capture. When the Dutch left the island they also left on the island the slaves that ran away from their masters. The French settled on the island in 1715 and also landed at the bay in the southeast and named it Port Bourbon. They made settlement on the north-western side of the island which became the harbour and was named Port Louis which is also the capital of Mauritius. During the French settlement there has been a lot of development in the country. Mahé de Labournnais whose statue is found in Port Louis in face of the harbour is known as the founder of the capital city. The British took possession of Mauritius in 1810 after a battle between French and British. From then Mauritius was under the rule of British until they attained independence on the 12 March 1968 within the commonwealth. Slavery was officially abolished in 1835. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam also known as the "Father of the Nation" was the one who brought the island to independence and did a lot for the country. On the 12 March 1992, Mauritius became a Republic.

    A stable democracy with regular free elections and a positive human rights record, the country has attracted considerable foreign investment and has earned one of Africa's highest per capita incomes. Recent poor weather and declining sugar prices have slowed economic growth leading to some protests over standards of living in the Creole community.

    Climate
    Tropical, modified by southeast trade winds; warm, dry winter (May to November); hot, wet, humid summer (November to May); Natural hazards : Tropical cyclones (November to April);but most cyclones usually occur from the end of December till March. Mauritius has only two seasons, winter and summer. There is not much temperature differences between the two seasons of the year. The climate on the central plateau is cooler than on the coastal areas. The West coast is much wetter and more humid than the East coast.
  • Hottest part is the west coast
  • Windiest part is the East coast
  • December to February are the hottest month of the year
  • The driest month of the year is October
  • Coolest months are from June to August


  • Get in

    By plane

    The at Plaisance is the major gateway for travelers coming from abroad.
  • Air Mauritius is the home carrier and operates a network of routes to the local islands and to international destinations in Africa, Australia, Europe and Asia.
  • Regional airlines Air Austral , Air Madgascar and Air Seychelles connect Mauritius with the surrounding islands.
  • International airlines such as Air Europe, Air France , Air Zimbabwe, Austrian Airlines , British Airways , Condor, South African Airways, Air India , and Emirates all serve Mauritius from their home bases.

  • Virgin Atlantic is due to start direct flights between London and Mauritius end of October 2007.

    Visitors are required to provide accommodation details to the immigration service on arrival. Failure to do so could see you being sent home!

    If you arrive in Mauritius from a country where malaria is endemic, you may receive a visit from the government health service and be required to give a blood sample for malaria screening.

    By boat

    The common way to enter Mauritius is usually by plane, and even though there are vessels that arrive at the port they are mainly cargo ships. The Mauritius Pride and the Trochetia are the Mauritian vessels that usually sails to Reunion Island, Rodrigues Island and Madagascar.

    Get around


    Bus and taxi services are best used in urban areas. Bicycles and motorbikes are also available for hire.

    By plane
    Air Mauritius operates daily flights connecting Plaisance Airport and Rodrigues (flight time - 1 hour 15 minutes).

    By helicopter
    Helicopters are available for transfers and sightseeing tours


  • By car
    One major highway runs north to south, otherwise a good network of paved, if sometimes narrow, roads cover the island. Traffic drives, erratically, on the left.

    Numerous car hire firms include major international and independent firms. Prices very widely starting from 600 roupe per day.

    Regulations: Drivers are required to be over 23 years old. Speed limits are 90kph (50mph) on the motorway and 50kph (31mph) in built-up areas. Seatbelts are compulsory. A foreign license is accepted.

    The following chart gives approximate travel times (in hours and minutes) from Port Louis to other major cities/towns/resorts in Mauritius.

    Curepipe 0:20
    Grand Baie, North 0:30
    Mahebourg, Southeast 1:00
    Flic-en-Flac, West 0:30

    By bus
    Excellent and numerous bus services ply the island.


  • By metered taxi
    These are regulated and metered (though meters are almost never used) and linked to provinces or hotels, printed on a yellow panel on the drivers' door. Tips are not customary for taxi drivers, but appreciated.

    By boat
  • Sails once a week to Rodrigues Island and to Reunion island from Port Louis Harbour. Mauritius Pride, launched in 1991, and Mauritius Trochetia, in service since 2001, are the two ships operating for the island. The ships also have Madagascar as a destination. Both vessels are used as passenger and container ships.


  • Talk

    The official language in Mauritius is English. Virtually everyone speaks Creole closely followed by French, with English a not too distant third. Those of Indian ethnicity usually speak English well, where as the African/Creole's usually prefer French. Other languages are: Hindi, Urdu, Hakka, Bhojpuri and Chinese. Usually administrative papers are in English.

    See


    Northern Touristic Zone

    '''Grand Bay was the first area of the island to fully experience the tourist boom.
    A shopping and leisure paradise, Grand Bay also happens to be the area where Mauritians head for when they want a fun-filled night out (restaurants, bars and discos). Recently renovated, La Cuvette beach is well worth a visit.
  • Pereybere The wonderful Pereybere public beach is popular because of its shopping facilities, restaurants and pubs.

  • Balaclava Ruins A few metres away from Baie aux Tortues, which 17th century sailors named after the many tortoises in the area, can be found the ruins of the old Balaclava estate. Visitors will be able to see the sea walls, whose initial foundations were laid down by Mahé de Labourdonnais.

  • The Triolet Shivala The longest village on the island, Triolet offers an opportunity to visit the biggest Hindu temple, the Maheswarnath, first built in 1819 in honour of the Gods Shiva, Krishna, Vishnu, Muruga, Brahma and Ganesha.

  • The Labourdonnais Orchards Discover a large variety of tropical fruit trees, colourful and perfumed exotic flowers. Trips on mountain bikes or hiking are possible.


  • East
  • Flacq Market Flacq is one of the most important villages in Mauritius. This meeting point for inhabitants of the East boasts the country’s largest open air market. The extremely colourful market attracts a large number of people.

  • The Waterpark Leisure Village Enjoy unforgettable moments sliding on the giant chutes, with family or friends. Relaxation and pleasure guaranteed.

  • Ile aux Cerfs Ile aux Cerfs is a paradise for water sports and has the most beautiful beach in Mauritius. You cannot afford to miss this tiny island, delicately poised on the ocean, a real pearl in the Mauritian landscape.


  • South East
  • Dutch Ruins At Vieux Grand Port, the oldest settlements in Mauritius, you can see the ruins of the first Dutch fortifications. Excavation work is underway in a bid to uncover an important part of Mauritian history.

  • Ile aux Aigrettes Owing to the remarkable work accomplished by the Mauritius Wildlife Fund, the island has become an international standard for the protection of natural resources and endangered species. A few of the world’s rarest birds, including the kestrel, can be seen there. You can also discover the extremely rare Pink Pigeon, the Green Gecko Phelsuma and the Aldabra giant tortoise.

  • Mahebourg Mahébourg is one of the main fishing villages on the island. Built on the magnificent Grand Port Bay it was founded in 1804 by the French Governor Charles Decaën.

  • Domaine du Chasseur, Tel: (230) 634-5011, Fax: (230) 634-5261. Nestling in the Anse Jonchée hills, the Domaine des Grand Bois has splendid hunting grounds covering an area of 900 hectares. Stags, monkeys and boars live amidst the luxuriant vegetation of the hillside.One can watch a few species of endangered birds, including the kestrel. The Domaine contains four thatched-roof bungalows and a restaurant with a panoramic sea view. Take an opportunity to enjoy a delicious meal of venison. (The view is great and well worth the visit, but the food can best be described as average. The venison is very chewy.)

  • Souillac A small seaside resort along the rugged coast of the Savanne district. A famous feature is the garden overlooking the sea and named after Dr. Charles Telfair. A popular viewpoint is found at the southern end of the village, right on the cliff top : Gris Gris.

  • Blue Bay Bluest water and most amazing white sand beaches you will ever see...period. Take the trip across the island from Port Louis and see what this quiet place has to offer. Very busy with the locals on weekends. Try to go during the week. Glass bottom boats are an excellent outing.


  • West
  • Martello Towers The Martello Towers represent the scene of the ancient rivalry between old colonial powers and the ingenuity of mankind. They are a milestone in the island’s history; they symbolise the end of slavery and the beginning of Indian immigration.

  • Chamarel A winding road leads from Case Noyale village to the coloured earths of Chamarel: an undulating landscape of different and contrasting shades of colours. The different shades of blue, green, red and yellow are apparently the result of the erosion of the volcanic ash. The neighbouring waterfalls of Chamarel rise from the moors and the native plant life. The site possesses a rare beauty.An adventure park has also recently been opened at Chamarel. Much of the sand has been souveniered by locals. It is now sectioned off, but is not that impressive.

  • Salt Pans Owing to the exceptional high level of sunshine the district receives, Tamarin is naturally the heart of salt production in Mauritius.

  • Casela, Tel: (230) 452-0693/4 Situated in the Rivière Noire district, the bird park stretches over 25 hectares and contains more than 140 bird species from all five continents. Other attractions include fish ponds, tigers, tortoises, monkeys, deer and orchids. Also contains a nice playground. Well worth the trip for those with kids.

  • Yemen Yemen Reserve may not be the largest game reserve on the island, but there is still lots to see. You will be able to get close to the herds of deer, as well as admire some splendid species of Mauritian fauna. A few rustic kiosks available in the reserve provide an unobstructed view of the sea. There you can sip a local punch while watching the sun going down.


  • The Interior
  • Black River Gorges This national park of 6,574 hectares (16,244 acres) was created in 1994 for the protection of Mauritius’ remaining native forests. Visitors can enjoy magnificent landscapes, with endemic plants and rare bird species. A trail leads from the Pétrin information centre to an area of typical plant life and to a conservation area.

  • Eureka, Tel: (230) 433 8477, Fax: (230) 433 4951. Is an old Creole residence built in 1830, Eureka is an essential place to visit during your stay in Mauritius if you wish to immerse yourself in tropical sweetness.

  • Ganga Talao - Grand Bassin Beyond La Marie and Mare-aux-Vacoas is found one of the two natural lakes of Mauritius. It rests within the crater of an extinct volcano. Ganga Talao is an important pilgrimage site and many Mauritians of the Hindu faith walk there during the Maha Shivaratri festival or the night fasting dedicated to Shiva.

  • L’Aventure du Sucre, Tel: 243 06 60. Daily 9AM-6PM. Visit an interactive and ultra modern exhibition situated at the heart of an ancient sugarmill and discover the fascinating history of Mauritius and its sugarcane adventure exposed over 5000 sq meters! Then, let yourself be tempted by their boutique with its unique gifts, souvenirs and tasting of special unrefined sugars as well as local rum. Do not miss the opportunity to relish authentic Mauritian cuisine with refined flavours at their restaurant "Le Fangourin". Free access to the restaurant and the Village Boutique Beau Plan-Pamplemousses


  • Do

  • Views For a spectacular 360-degree view of Port Louis and the north, climb Le Pouce or ‘the thumb', at 812m (2,664ft). It is an easy 2-hour climb from the village of La Laura, and takes another 2 hours to walk into Port Louis.

  • Tour the Moka mountains by quad bike, horse or 4-wheel drive at the accessible 1,500-hectare (3,700-acre) nature park of Domaine Les Pailles . Travel to the sugar mill and rum distillery by train or horse-drawn carriage before dining in one of four restaurants.

  • Head to Grand Baie, for watersports such as parasailing, an underwater walk, submarine and semi-submersible scooters, or to La Cuvette, a long silky beach with clear water between Grand Baie and Cap Malheureux, for sailing, windsurfing and waterskiing.

  • Swim at the northern beaches such as Trou aux Biches, shaded by casuarinas, Mont Choisy, a 2km (1.2-mile) narrow white stretch of sand curving north from there, and Péreybère, a little cove between Grand Baie and Cap Malheureux.

  • Diving on the west coast around Flic-en-Flac or in the north, at Trou aux Biches or the Northern Islands from November to April. The Mauritius Scuba Diving Association (MSDA) can provide further information (website: www.msda-cmas.org).

  • Speedboat from Trou d'eau Douce to the popular island playground of Ile aux Cerfs for beaches, golf and watersports. Or, for a quieter day, a catamaran to the Northern Islands - Gabriel Island, Flat Island and Gunner's Quoin.

  • Hike in the Black River Gorges National Park, a 6,794-hectare (16,788-acre) forest, to see indigenous plants, birds and wildlife. Black River Peak trail goes to Mauritius' highest mountain, while the Maccabee Trail starts nearby and plunges into the gorge to Black River.

  • Lunch For an adventurous lunch of roasted wild boar, duck or deer curry with one of the best island views, try Domaine du Chasseur's alfresco Panoramour Restaurant. This domain is the best place to glimpse the Mauritius kestrel in the wild.

  • La Vanille Réserve des Mascareignes is commonly referred to as ‘The Crocodile Park', for its thousands of Nile crocodiles. It is the only place worldwide to breed aldabra tortoises and also has deer, monkeys, boar and an insectarium.

  • Rodrigues Island Tiny, rugged, volcanic it lies 550km (340 miles) northeast of Mauritius and is known as the ‘anti-stress' island. The capital, Port Mathurin, is only seven streets wide, with a Creole population. Rodrigues offers walking, diving, kitesurfing and deep sea fishing.

  • Waterfalls Tamarind Falls on the Interior portion of the island is an incredible string of about 7 waterfalls surrounds by green mountains and is tucked away beyond a sugar cane filled. Bring something to swim in as the are numerous pools beneith certain falls to take a dip in. There are some spots that require getting a little dirty and some traction on your shoes, but it is well worth it.

  • Blue Safari Submarine see the wonderful underwater tropical fish without even getting your feet wet. Dives to 35m.

    Eat


    When leaving Mauritius, don't wait until you go through passport control if you want to have a snack. The coffee shop after passport control is not value for money. You would be better off visiting the snack bar before check-in and taking your purchases through with you.

    Mauritius is a paradise for the senses, not only for the eyes with its beautiful landscape, but also for the palate. Gastronomes will find a variety of flavours and aromas inherited from the different migrations through its history. Culinary traditions from France, India, China and Africa, the best-known and appreciated cuisines in the world, have been passed on through generations.

    Depending on the region, rice or a variety of flat bread called chapattis or roti called farata by the local people, is eaten with curries. The extensive use of spices like saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves and herbs like thyme basil and curry leaves are the common ingredients that provide some powerful, yet subtle, savour. Dal a variety of lentil soups are many and varied according to which type of lentil is used, vegetables and beans, and pickles accompany the dishes. Dholl puri and roti, originally an Indian delicacy have become the fish and chips of Mauritians.

    Biryani from Mughal origins is a dish expertly prepared by the muslim community, with meat mixed with spiced rice and potato.

    You can buy many snacks on the streets of Mauritius including the famous gateaux piments or chilli cakes and vegetable or meat samosas along with octopus curry in bread. The tomato and onion based dish called Rogai is a variation of the Ragoux of France and all mauritians eat this dish often if not daily.

    Mauritians have sweet tooths and make many types of 'gateaux' as they are called. The cakes vary and you can find cakes very much like at home and others similar to Indian cakes like Gulab Jumman and Rasgoola among many others.

    Check out the queues where the street sellers are selling their type of snacks and the longest queue will probably have the tastiest food on sale and is very cheap.

    Drink

    Mauritius produces a wide range of cane rum. It is very cheap and is a nice drink when mixed with cola and ice. Don't forget the coconut water with a dash of lime and a splash of local rum over ice.

    If you are staying in a hotel where the drinks are wildly expensive consider collecting your tipples while you are out and about from the local village shops or supermarkets where the prices are much cheaper.

    The local beer Phoenix is considered to be one of the best in the world and costs around 30 rupees (less than one pound sterling) for a pint. Serve very cold. Delicious ! =]

    Sleep


  • A Member of the Leading Hotels of the World

  • Luxury resort on Mauritius

  • The Hilton is very close to Casela Nature Park.

  • An elegant 5-star beach resort with spa

  • 5-star golf resort

  • Resort for action-packed holidays, for families, couples, and nature-lovers.

  • Beautifully designed right on Tamarin Bay.

  • Ideal for weddings and honeymoons

  • Beachfront on the bay of Pointe aux Piments.

  • Family holiday resort.

  • Set on a private peninsula.

  • On an isolated peninsula. Very remote and exclusive.


  • 5* Hotel in the style of a plantation house; popular with honeymooners.


  • Labourdonnais, Waterfront, Port Louis 5* excellent hotel convenient for Port Louis and many restaurants around the area. Popular with businessmen. Excellent Guest Relations, business centre. Has trade delegations.

    Work

    Mauritius is an ideal place to live if you have your own business, especially if you can earn your money overseas. The government has set up a new visa category as of October, 2006 catering specifically for the self employed.
  • Extremely helpful government agancy


  • Stay safe


    Be alert for your own security in Mauritius.
    Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would anywhere in the world.
    Be a smart traveler. Before your trip:
    Organize comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy. Register your travel and contact details, so that you can be contacted in an emergency.

    Crime levels in Mauritius are low, though petty crime is on the rise. Most crime against foreign tourists is petty crime, although incidents of assault and rape occur. The rate of crime is higher in downtown Port Louis, and in the coastal tourist centres of Grand Bay, Pereybere, Flic en Flac and Tamarin. Security risks increase after dark especially on beaches, city streets and in other secluded areas. There have been incidents of tourists being assaulted and robbed while staying at beachside bungalows run by unregistered proprietors.

    Important telephone numbers


    Stay healthy


    Mauritius is a risk area for infection with dengue fever (also known as "breakbone fever" from the muscular paroxysms sometimes induced). No vaccine is available. However no cases of dengue fever have been recorded in the country for several years now.

    Since 2005 during the high season a certain type of mosquito called the Aedes albopictus causes the viral illness Chickungunya and the insect is more likely to be around in the daytime.

    It is important to use anti-mosquito protection at all times. Mosquitos more prevalent in rural areas but they can also inhabit the beach in the tourist zone and may lead to swollen joints and/or rashes. Symptoms last from one week up to several months depending how you are affected. Some people recover quickly but it can take several months to recover completely.

    It shouldn't put you off visiting Mauritius. Just take good care to cover yourself completely in the best mosquito repellant you can find and reapply again after swimming. Sleep under a mosquito net. Spray the bedroom well before going to bed with a good repellant and take an electric repellant to plug into the power supply. You can buy plenty of repellants of all types locally in mauritius quite cheaply including bracelets for kiddies.

    Here is a website with comprehensive information on the Chickengunya virus - Health Protection Surveillance Centre’s website:

    In 1991, 86% of the population had antibodies indicating that they had been exposed to the hepatitis A virus, following an epidemic of the disease in 1989. Hepatitis A vaccination is generally recommended for travel in East Africa (and most other places) by the CDC.

    Due to recent efforts transmission of schistosomiasis in Mauritius has been "virtually eliminated", according to the .

    Many of the beaches are infested with sea erchins. It is a good idea to either buy or bring plastic shoes when venturing into the water. This is generally not a problem at the big hotels.

    Reef fish in Mauritius have been found containing a neurotoxin similar but not identical to that found in Caribbean reef fish.

    It is important not to eat peanuts or take alcohol if you eat coral or reef fish like sea bass, snapper, mullet, grouper, there are many more. The fish eat the toxic algae that grows on the coral reefs. Don't eat intestines or testes of the fish as higher concentrations of the toxin collect here. The symptoms include gastrointestinal upset, vomiting and diarrhoea and sometimes numb feelings of the arms and legs. More info:

    Respect

    When tourists go to Mauritius, many look for the typical Mauritian. They will not find them. There is no typical Mauritian, as Mauritians are a sum of different cultures. You have white Mauritians, African Mauritians, Indian Mauritians, Muslim Mauritians, Buddhist Mauritians ... the only thing you should know is that they all have different ways of life, and most of the time do not mix together. Each ethnic group fits a role in the Mauritian community.

    The Mauritians all get on well together and respect each others traditions and way of life religions and customs. They are proud of their country and join together on many occasions to celebrate being Mauritian, especially on Independence Day, March 12th, achieved in 1968 when Dr Seewoosagur Ramgoolam (now deceased) was Prime Minister. He is now regarded as the revered father of Mauritius. Presently his son Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam is the Prime Minister.

    Each morning the children sing the national anthem in the playground before commencing classes and it is a joy to hear them sing.

    Glory to thee Motherland,
    O motherland of mine.
    Sweet is thy beauty,
    Sweet is thy fragrance,
    Around thee we gather
    As one people,
    As one nation,
    For peace, justice and liberty.
    Beloved country, may God bless thee for ever and ever.


    Mauritius (pronounced: ; Maurice ; Mauritian Creole: Moris), officially the Republic of Mauritius (République de Maurice), is an island nation off the coast of Africa in the southwest Indian Ocean, about 900 kilometers (560 mi) east of Madagascar. In addition to the island of Mauritius, the republic includes the islands of St. Brandon, Rodrigues and the Agalega Islands. Mauritius is part of the Mascarene Islands, with the French island of Réunion 200 km (125 mi) to the southwest and the island of Rodrigues 570 km to the East-northeast.

    History

    The first record of Mauritius comes from Arab and Malay sailors as early as the tenth century. The Portuguese sailors first visited it in 1505, and established a visiting base leaving the island uninhabited. Three ships of the eight Dutch Second Fleet that were sent to the Spice Islands were blown off course during a cyclone and landed on the island in 1598, naming it in honour of Prince Maurice of Nassau, the Stadtholder of the Netherlands. In 1638, the Dutch established the first permanent settlement. Because of tough climatic conditions including cyclones and the deterioration of the settlement, the Dutch abandoned the island some decades later. The French who controlled the neighbouring Bourbon island (now Réunion) moved in to seize Mauritius in 1715 and later named it Ile de France (Isle of France). The French got the economy well underway with a flourishing sugar production industry. One of the great initiator of this economic leap was St-Malo born governor François Mahé de Labourdonnais. The French however harboured the outlawed "corsairs" (mercenary pirates) who regulalry sunk gold, precious stones, silk and spice laden British vessels on their way to Britain from India. The British set to gain military control of the island. Despite winning the famous Battle of Grand Port, Napoleon's only naval win over the British, the French were defeated by the British in the north of the island, at Cap Malheureux (Hapless Cape) three months later, and thus lost possession to the British in 1810. The latter reverted the island to its former name.

    In 1965, the United Kingdom split the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius to create the British Indian Ocean Territory in order to use the strategic islands for defence purposes in co-operation with the United States. Although the Government of Mauritius agreed to the move at the time, subsequent administrations have laid claim to the islands stating that the divestment was illegal under international law - a claim recognised by the United Nations.

    Mauritius attained independence in 1968 and the country became a republic within the Commonwealth in 1992. Mauritius has been a stable democracy with regular free elections and a positive human rights record, and has attracted considerable foreign investment earning one of Africa's highest per capita incomes.

    Mauritius aims to become the business hub of the Indian Ocean. New business opportunities in banking and the technology sector are being actively sought.

    Through the celebration of the Bicentenary of the Battle of Grand Port in 2010, Mauritius is aiming at rebuilding its maritime heritage and reclaiming its title of the Star & the Key of the Indian Ocean.

    Politics


    Mauritius is a parliamentary democracy based on the Westminsterian model of the United Kingdom. The head of state of Mauritius is the President, who is elected for a five-year term by the National Assembly, the unicameral Mauritian parliament. The National Assembly consists of 62 members elected directly by popular vote, with between four and eight further members appointed from "best losers" election candidates to represent ethnic minorities, if under represented after the elections. The government is headed by the prime minister and a council of ministers.

    The Government is elected on a five-year basis. The most recent general elections took place on 3 July 2005 in all the 20 mainland constituencies, as well as the constituency covering the island of Rodrigues.

    Historically, elections have always had a tendency to adhere to a system comprising two major coalitions of parties.

    In international affairs, Mauritius is part of the Indian Ocean Commission, the Southern African Development Community and the Commonwealth of Nations and La Francophonie (French speaking countries) amongst others. A more complete list can be found in the main Politics of Mauritius article.

    In 2006, Mauritius asked to be an observing member of Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) in order to become closer to those countries.

    Districts and dependencies


    The island of Mauritius itself is divided into nine districts:
    # Black River
    # Flacq
    # Grand Port
    # Moka
    # Pamplemousses
    # Plaines Wilhems
    # Port Louis
    # Rivière du Rempart
    # Savanne

    Dependencies of Mauritius:
  • Rodrigues, an autonomous populated island 560 kilometers north-east of Mauritius. Used to be the 10th administrative district of Mauritius before autonomy was granted.
  • Agalega, two small islands about 933 kilometers (580 mi) north of Mauritius.
  • Cargados Carajos Shoals, also known as the Saint Brandon islands, about 402 kilometers (250 mi) north of Mauritius.


  • Other Mauritian territories:
  • Soudan Banks (including East Soudan Bank)
  • Nazareth Bank
  • Saya de Malha Bank
  • Hawkins Bank


  • Mauritius also claims the following islands:
  • In French possession: Tromelin Island
  • In British possession: Chagos Archipelago


  • Geography


    Together with Réunion and Rodrigues, Mauritius is part of the Mascarene Islands. This archipelago was formed in a series of undersea volcanic eruptions, as the African plate drifted over the Réunion hotspot. Mauritius and Rodrigues were formed 8-10 million years ago. They are no longer volcanically active, and the hotspot now rests under Réunion. The island of Mauritius itself is formed around a central plateau, with its highest peak in the southwest, Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire at 828 metres (2,717 ft). Around the plateau, the original crater can still be distinguished from several mountains.

    The local climate is tropical, modified by southeast trade winds; there is a warm, dry winter from May to November and a hot, wet, and humid summer from November to May. Cyclones affect the country during November-April.

    The island's capital and largest city is Port Louis, in the northwest. Other important towns are Curepipe, Vacoas, Phoenix, Quatre Bornes, Rose-Hill and Beau-Bassin.

    The island is well known for its exceptional natural beauty; "You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius", as Mark Twain noted in Following the Equator.

    Economy


    Since independence in 1968, Mauritius has developed from a low-income, agriculturally based economy to a middle income diversified economy with growing industrial, financial, and tourist sectors. For most of the period, annual growth has been of the order of 5% to 6%. This has been reflected in increased life expectancy, lowered infant mortality and a much improved infrastructure.

    Estimated at $16.28 billion for 2005, Mauritius has the 2nd highest GDP per capita in Africa. It is only exceeded by Equatorial Guinea, which derives most of its revenue from oil exports. Mauritius has a mature economy with a great deal of wealth distribution among its citizens. The economy is mainly dependent on sugarcane plantations, tourism, textiles, and services, but other sectors are rapidly developing as well.

    Sugar cane is grown on about 90% of the cultivated land area and accounts for 25% of export earnings. However, a record-setting drought severely damaged the sugar crop in 1999. The government's development strategy centres on foreign investment. Mauritius has attracted more than 9,000 offshore entities; many aimed at commerce in India and South Africa while investment in the banking sector alone has reached over $1 billion. Economic performance during the period from 2000 through 2004 combined strong economic growth with unemployment at 7.6% in December 2004. France is the country's biggest trading partner, and has close ties with the country. They also provide technical assistance in various forms.

    Mauritius is gearing towards becoming a duty-free island within the coming four years. Duty has been decreased (and for many products completely eliminated) for more than 1850 products including clothing, food, jewelry, photographic equipment, audio visual equipment and lighting equipment.

    The main motivations are (1) Attract more tourists going to Singapore and Dubai, and, (2) Give all Mauritians easier access to quality products at affordable prices.

    A plan by ADB Networks calls for Mauritius to become the first nation to have coast-to-coast wireless internet access. The wireless hot spot currently covers about 60% of the island and is accessible by about 70% of its population. By the end of 2006, antennas should have provided access to 90% of the island, however, this has not yet happened.

    Its biggest trading partners are France and the UK.

    Mauritius ranks first in respect of FDI inflows to India amongst all the countries with cumulative inflows amounting to US $ 10.98 billion. Top sectors attracting FDI inflows from Mauritius (from January 2000 to December, 2005) are electrical equipment, telecommunications, fuels, cement and gypsum products and services sector (financial and non-financial).

    As Mauritius opens to the world, aiming to transform itself into a competitive global business platform, the national investment promotion agency, the Board of Investment (BOI) has put at the service of the international business community a range of services, free of charge, to attract international investment and talents in the country.

    Demographics

    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. 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.

    Culture


    The cuisine of Mauritius is a blend of Indian Cuisine, Creole, Chinese and European. It is not uncommon for a combination of cuisines to form part of the same meal. The "cari poule" or chicken curry, for example, is a very popular dish. The "mine-frit" (Chinese fried noodles) and "niouk nien" (dumplings) are loved by all and readily bought by the Mauritian community either in restaurants or on the sidewalks of main streets. 'Alouda' (a milk-based drink with basil seeds) has become a typical Mauritian drink and the 'dholl puri' can be considered a favourite with all communities.

    The historical evolution of the rum industry in Mauritius is no less enriching than that of the Caribbean or that of South America.

    Sugarcane was first introduced on the island when the Dutch colonised it in 1638. Even then, the propensity of making rum out of sugarcane was strongly recognised. Sugarcane was mainly cultivated for the production of “arrack”, a precursor to rum. Only much later, almost 60 years after, that the first proper sugar was produced. However, it was during the French and English administration, that sugar production was fully exploited. This highly contributed to the economical development of the island. It was Mr. Pierre Charles François Harel who initially proposed the concept of local distillation of rum in Mauritius, in 1850. In part due to his efforts, Mauritius today houses three distilleries (Grays, Medine & St Aubin) and is in the process of opening another three.

    The sega is the local folklore music. Sega has African roots, and the music is produced using goat-skin percussion instruments called ravane and metallic clicks using metal triangles. The song usually describes the miseries of slavery, and has been adapted nowadays as social satires to voice out inequalities as felt by the blacks. The rhythm, however, remains very festive and while the men are at the instruments, the Creole women gyrate in large fluid and revealing skirts with bright colours. Shows are regularly hosted in the coastal hotels.

    In 1847, Mauritius became the fifth country in the world to issue postage stamps. The two types of stamps issued then, known as the Red Penny and the Blue Penny are probably the most famous stamps in the world, being very rare and therefore also very expensive.

    When discovered, the island of Mauritius was home to a previously unknown species of bird, which the Portuguese named the dodo (simpleton), as they appeared not too bright. However, by 1681, all dodos had been killed by settlers or their domesticated animals. An alternate theory suggests that the imported wild boar destroyed the slow breeding dodo population. Nevertheless, the dodo is prominently featured as a supporter of the national coat-of-arms (see above).

    Horse racing (April - December) is undeniably the most popular sport on the island and the electrifying ambiance at Port Louis (Champ de Mars), notably for the Maiden Cup (listed race), is unique in world racing.
    The island has also given rise to a diversified literature, prominent in French, English, Creole and Hindi languages.

    See also

    Miscellaneous topics
  • Tertiary education in Mauritius
  • University of Technology, Mauritius
  • Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport
  • Air Mauritius - National Airline
  • The Mauritius Scout Association


  • Further reading
  • Dodd, Jan and Madeleine Philippe. Lonely Planet Mauritius Reunion & Seychelles. Lonely Planet Publications, 2004. ISBN 1-74059-301-4
  • Lee, Jacques: Mauritius: Its Creole Language - The Ultimate Creole Phrase Book and Dictionary, Paperback 160 pages (August 15, 2005), Publisher: Nautilus, ISBN 0-9511296-4-3.
  • Lee, Jacques: Sega: The Mauritian Folk Dance, Paperback 104 pages (December 1990), Publisher: Nautilus, ISBN 0-9511296-1-9
  • Khal Torabully, Coolitude : An Anthology of the Indian Labour Diaspora (with Marina Carter, Anthem Press, London, 2002) ISBN 1843310031


  • External links

  • Government of Mauritius (official site)
  • Board of Investment, Mauritius (official site)
  • Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (official site)
  • Mauritius Weather Actual weather report from the Mauritius region.

















  • Introduction:
    Although known to Arab and Malay sailors as early as the 10th century, Mauritius was first explored by the Portuguese in 1505; it was subsequently held by the Dutch, French, and British before independence was attained in 1968. A stable democracy with regular free elections and a positive human rights record, the country has attracted considerable foreign investment and has earned one of Africa's highest per capita incomes. Recent poor weather and declining sugar prices have slowed economic growth, leading to some protests over standards of living in the Creole community.

    Location: Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar

    Population: 1,240,827 (July 2006 est.)

    Languages: Creole 80.5%, Bhojpuri 12.1%, French 3.4%, English (official; spoken by less than 1% of the population), other 3.7%, unspecified 0.3% (2000 census)

    Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Mauritius
    conventional short form: Mauritius
    local long form: Republic of Mauritius
    local short form: Mauritius

    Capital: name: Port Louis
    geographic coordinates: 20 10 S, 57 30 E
    time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

    Economy - overview:
    Since independence in 1968, Mauritius has developed from a low-income, agriculturally based economy to a middle-income diversified economy with growing industrial, financial, and tourist sectors. For most of the period, annual growth has been in the order of 5% to 6%. This remarkable achievement has been reflected in more equitable income distribution, increased life expectancy, lowered infant mortality, and a much-improved infrastructure. Sugarcane is grown on about 90% of the cultivated land area and accounts for 25% of export earnings. The government's development strategy centers on expanding local financial institutions and building a domestic information telecommunications industry. Mauritius has attracted more than 9,000 offshore entities, many aimed at commerce in India and South Africa, and investment in the banking sector alone has reached over $1 billion. Mauritius, with its strong textile sector, has been well poised to take advantage of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).



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