THE REPUBLIC OF MAURITIUS: AN INTRODUCTION
GENERAL INFORMATION

 
The Republic of Mauritius a Brief Introduction
General Information Historical, Geographical and Economic.

The Republic of Mauritius is well known as a holiday destination. Well known for its magnificent beaches where the tourist can relax and enjoy a life of luxury, at least for a brief time. However, only a small minority know of the rich and varied history and culture of this island and many would feel a sense of embarrassment if asked where, on the world map, Mauritius is actually located. It is so isolated that its history is quite recent, dating back some 400 years only. The Island of Mauritius measures only 65km (40 miles) long and 45km (28km) wide. It is a volcanic island formed from the upsurge of molten lava from the ocean bed.

Mauritius is part of the Mascarene group of islands and lies east of Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean and 161km (100 miles) from the French island of Réunion. The Republic consists of Mauritius and other smaller dependencies, Rodrigues Island, Cargados Carajos Shoals (Saint Brandon Islands) and the Agalega Islands. North of the Island of Mauritius are other small uninhabited islands of great beauty: Gunner's Quoin, Flat, Serpent (also called Parasol Island), a bird sanctuary, Gabriel, and Round, a nature reserve. Mauritius is a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Probably the first to discover Mauritius were Arab traders. Most probably it was Hasan ibn Ali, from Iran who discovered the area in AD 975. Many of his followers eventually settled in Mombasa. There is no evidence of the Arabs ever having settled on Mauritius but evidence of Arab influence is seen in some place names. The Comoros for example derive their name from the Arabic Komr and 15th century maps name the islands of Mauritius Dina Arobi, Rodrigues as Dina Moraze and Réunion as Dina Margabin.

Although known by the Arabs it was the Portuguese that established links between the Island of Mauritius and Europe. The first settlers on Mauritius were Dutch but the island later became a French and later a British colony. Each of these influences has left its mark on the society and culture of the land and on place names.

The Island of Mauritius has a tropical climate with warm dry winters and hot humid summers and its terrain consists of a coastal plain and mountains encircling a central plateau. The highest point is Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire Peak 2,710 ft (826 m). Its economic resources are mainly the tourist trade and the cultivation of the sugar cane. Also tea growing, fishing and textiles make a significant contribution to the local economy.


The capital of Mauritius is Port Louis and the population 1,230,602. Mauritius became Independent from UK 12 March 1968. The adjective of Mauritius is Mauritian. The island of Mauritius is divided into districts: Port Louis, Pamplemousses, Riviere du Rempart, Flacq, Grand Port, Savanne, Black River, Plaines Wilhems and Moka. Rodrigues is also a district.

The national flag consists of four horizontal stripes red, blue, yellow and Green each having a precise symbolic value.Mauritius Flag
Red represents the struggle for freedom and independence. Blue represents the Indian Ocean where Mauritius is located. Yellow represents the light of independence shining over the island. Green represents the agriculture of Mauritius and its colour throughout the year.

The population of Mauritius is multiethnic and the country is proud of its racial harmony. The vast majority are of Indian descent who are mainly Hindus and Muslims. A significant minority are Creole, being a mixture of French and African origin. Chinese and French communities are also present. The prevailing religions, Hindu, Christian and Muslim reflect these different ethnic groups. The official language is English but French and other minor Asian languages are spoken. At home Mauritians rarely speak English, Creole being the language spoken by the people and understood by all ethnic groups and is therefore much more widespread. Though quite distinct from French, much of Creole vocabulary has evolved from it. The Creole language plays an important role in the creation of a common national identity among Mauritians despite the variety of ethnic groups.

Mauritius is a parliamentary democracy and a republic with a president as head of state. The president nominates the prime minister as head of government who answers to a national assembly which has 66 members, all of which are elected save four. These are appointed by the president and are representative of various ethnic minorities.

 

History of Mauritius the Dutch Occupation
History of Mauritius the French Occupation

 

 

 

Know Britain Home Page
General Index