Mauritius

Mauritius is situated approximately 2000 kms to the south eastern coast of Africa and lies east of Madagascar, between Reunion to the west and Rodrigues to the east, and a few degrees north of the Tropic of Capricorn. It has an area of 1865 sq kms with 330kms of coastline, is 65 kms long and 45kms wide.

Inland features include a vast central plateau, subtropical forests, rivers, streams and waterfalls. Bordering the tableland are several mountain ranges of diverse shaped masses of basalt testifying the volcanic origins of the island.



Mauritius was discovered in 1512 by the Portugese navigator, Pedro Mascarenhas, who called it Ilha do Cerne (island of the swan) , it was then occupied by the Dutch (1598 - 1710) who incidentally named the island to honour their ruler at the time Prince Maurice de Nassau, the French (1715 – 1810) who named the island Isle de France.



The island was ceded to the British in 1814 after the famous battle of Grand–Port of 1810 won by the British who then re-named the island : Mauritius.

 

The rich volcanic soil and mountain-induced rain helped the creation of dense forests with a unique species of flora and fauna. The sea created coral reefs which makes for a calm and safe lagoon, with beautiful beaches lined by coconut and filao trees.



This combination of the central plateau and the coastal plains made the cultivation of sugar cane and tea the main focus on the island. The Dutch made rhum which has been a tradition of Mauritius even nowadays with several brands of rhum a feature of the drinking culture of our forefathers.

Because of its strategic location and sheer beauty, Mauritius became known as the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean.



Mark Twain famously said :

 

“Mauritius inspired God to create the Garden of Eden..” 

 

While a French poet famously declared:

"Maurice , cette ile qu’un Dieu sans doute a pose sur les eaux

Maurice , ou danse la mer et chantent les oiseaux"



Mauritius has a temperate climate all year round of between 18 and 35 degrees C.

The capital: Port-Louis,  is the maritime port and a hub of activity, it is also the seat of Government.



The highest mountain is the Piton de la Riviere Noire at 828 metres, closely followed by the Pieter Both at 823 metres.

  Mauritius has a population of more than 1,200,000 inhabitants which includes the population of Rodrigues.

The population is comprised of Indians, Muslims, Chinese, and the general population. English is the official language, with French and Creole more popularly and generally used.



Other languages include: Hindi, Bhojpuri, Urdu, Hakka, Mandarin and Tamil, which help make Mauritius a diverse multicultural society.

Mauritius became an independent country in 1968 and then a Republic on 12th March 1992.