Facts About the Culture, Geography, and History of Mauritius
Mauritius is an Island nation of Indian Ocean established along the southeast coast of Africa. It is near the Reunions Island and 600 miles off the coast of Madagascar. There is so much to learn about this scenic island when you visit it than we can condense in this brief article.
Nonetheless, these interesting facts about Mauritius is the best way to start your adventure – right in your imagination.
Another great read: 12 Interesting Facts About Seychelles
12. The country of Mauritius includes the island of Mauritius, Rodrigues and the outer islands (some disputed).
Mauritius has had a long history of territorial dispute, starting from the time of Dutch colonization to the time of French and later on British colonization. However, there is no contention about its two main islands – Mauritius and Rodrigues, which stand 530 kilometers apart.
Other islands include Cargados Carajos Shoals and Agalega Islands. The outermost island of Chagos Archipelago is disputed by Britain. It lies 2000 kilometers to the North East of Mauritius.
11. The main island of Mauritius is only 28 miles wide and 40 miles long. It is of volcanic origin and is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs.
Mauritius is highly mountainous country. This is primarily due to the island having been created as a result of volcanic activity from underneath the ocean. The entire area of Mauritius is 2000 square kilometers. It has a 330 kilometer coastline. It is almost surrounded by coral reefs most of which is covered by vegetation.
10. Mark Twain wrote “Heaven was copied after Mauritius.”
Mark Twain got fascinated by Mauritius in his adventures. On his account, he wrote “you gather the idea that Mauritius was created first, and then heaven, and then and that heaven was copied after Mauritius”. This is descriptive of the spectacular beauty of this tiny island. When you visit, you will feel like you have encountered heaven on earth and living in it.
9. Mauritius is home to some world-famous public beaches including the fun-named “Flic en Flac.”
Flic en Flac is a beautiful white-sand beach. Other famous beaches that would love to caress your naked feet are Belle Mare, Grand Bay, Pereybere, La Morne, Tamarin, and Blue Bay. Here you can have magnificent view of the Indian Ocean, and experience the kiss of a soothing breeze as you sunbathe.
8. Arab sailors first visited Mauritius during the Middle Ages, naming the island Dina Arobi.
Prior to Europeans discovering Mauritius, it had already been discovered by Arab sailors. The sailors named the three Mascarenes islands (Reunion, Mauritius and Rodrigues) as Dina Magharib and Dina Arobi. Dina Maghreb (Western Isle) referred to Reunion and Dina Arobi (Desert Isle) referred to Mauritius/Rodrigues.
The Arabs did not settle on the Islands. However, Europeans decided to settle on it thus making the first human settlements there. With them, they brought other races including Asians and Africans. This made Mauritius a melting pot of rich cultural heritage spanning three continents – Africa, Asia, and Europe.
Of course, there are rare traces of people from other continents. When you visit Mauritius, you will find yourself more at home than on most mainland countries.
7. Mauritius was part of the long power struggle between the French and the British during the Napoleonic Wars.
French took over the colony of Mauritius from the Dutch. Mauritius was a strategic point on the sea route to the lucrative Indian coast prior to the establishment of Suez Canal. French settlers took advantage of this strategic point to invade, pirate and harass British ships ferrying goods from India to Europe.
This provoked Britain to launch war in order to end this mischief. War broke out during the Napoleonic period. The French surrendered to the British in 1810 after one century of colonization. Britain took over colonization of Mauritius until its independence in 1968.
This gave Mauritius the English language which is currently the official language. As an English-speaking visitor, you will have no problem interacting with locals, which will make you easily find friends, make connections and settle.
6. Mauritius attained its independence from the United Kingdom March 12, 1968.
Mauritius attained independence after fierce battle with Britain. This brought to an end almost one and half century of British rule. It also brought to an end nearly three and half centuries of European colonization which was started by the Portuguese (1507-1598), followed Dutch (1598-1710), and then French (1710-1810).
The Dutch are the ones that gave this beautiful nation the name ‘Mauritius’ after their reigning King Maurice. It is one of the very few countries named after an individual.
5. Seafood is a staple of Mauritian cuisine, which has Asian, Indian, French and British influences.
Mauritius, being a multicultural and multiracial society means that it has quite an assortment of traditional cousins. The most influential cuisines are Asian (India, China, Pakistan), French and British.
Apart from Seafood, Chinese noodles are a common staple food. On your visit to Mauritius, you can join thousands of tourists who flock Mauritius, not only for sightseeing and sunbathing along its pristine beaches, but also sampling of its highly nutritious mouth-watering cuisine.
4. Mauritius is a religiously diverse nation, with freedom of religion given as a constitutional right.
Mauritius is a uniquely multicultural, multiracial, multilingual and multi-religious nation. This diversity has ensured that no single religion dominates over the rest. However, Hindu (49%) Roman Catholicism (26%) and Islam (17%) are the three main religions.
There is no State religion in Mauritius. As, such you are free to practice your own religion freely without any hindrance.
3. Mauritius is the only African country to have a Hindu majority.
Mauritius has a large population of Indo-Asians. Two-thirds of the population comprise of people from India and Pakistan, with Indians being the majority. These Indo-Asians were ferried to Mauritius as slaves during the British rule.
They were brought between 1834 and 1915 to work in sugar plantations and other economic activities. Indians comprise about 49% of the entire population. Sugar is Mauritius largest export and foreign exchange earner.
Tourism is its second. By visiting Mauritius, you will not only enjoy succulent bites of its sweet tasty sugarcane, but you will also have contributed to the sustenance of this magnificent island.
2. Mauritius has undergone a remarkable economic transformation from a low-income, agriculturally based economy to a diversified, upper middle-income economy based on sugar, tourism, textiles and apparel, and financial services, fish processing, information technology, and hospitality and property development.
Tourism has been the main cause of boom for the Mauritius economy. However, unlike most African governments, Mauritius government took great effort to diversity its economy beyond agriculture.
With sound investment policy, manufacturing, processing, financial and IT services have propelled Mauritius into a middle-income economy. This ensures that every visitor finds a rich variety of economic activities to engage in – home away from home.
1. Mauritius was the only known habitat of the now-extinct dodo bird. The dodo is prominently featured in the Mauritius national Coat of Arms.
Dodo is a wingless bird that was endemic to Mauritius. However, the introduction of foreign predatory species by settlers drove them into extinction. Ship rats were the main predators that fed on dodo’s underground eggs.
Dodo became extinct by around 1660, which is about 100 years since the Dutch established settlement. Yet, “as dead as dodo”, is a phrase that reminds us of the extinction of this precious bird.
Mauritius remains one of the great tourist attractions within the Indian Ocean. Its warm climate, beautiful flora and fauna, fine white-sand beaches and serene oceanic beauty makes it continue to pull thousands upon thousands of visitors every year. Here is a place to relax, rejuvenate, and regain consciousness of the natural world.
What to read next: 12 Interesting Facts About Algeria