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History of Mauritius

Mauritius is a volcanic island in the Indian Ocean, situated on the east coast of Madagascar and Reunion island and to the west of Rodrigues island. It was on the spices route that the island was discoverd in a Storm in 1598 by the Dutch sailors whose damaged sailing boats were drifted and brought to the shores of the island  by the south east trade winds. The dutch sailor Don Pedro Mascarenhas  named it Mauritius after the  king of Holland, Maurice Van Nasseau.

Mauriitus was used to be a stop over for food and  for replenishing of fresh water on the way to the far east before the suez canal was opened for navigation. That`s why it is still known as the star and key of the indian ocean, as per its emblem " Stella Clavisque Maris Indici ". The island was visited before by the Arabs and Portuguese, but the Dutch eventually took over and decided to exploit the island as it was abundant in ebony trees which was then cut down and exported to Europe. In doing so, the habitats of the DODO were destroyed and the dodo which was known as the lazy bird, eaten for food, thereby becoming extinct. The Dutch stayed for quite some time and brought deers and sugarcane from Batavia to grow and make a drink known as arrack. They stayed for quite some time before deserting it due to frequent cyclones and also because of rats and mongoose ( introduced in the island to get rid of snakes ) which used to eat all their crops that they grew to sustain themselves  prior to the French occupation and finally surrendering it to the British in 1810.

During the French colonial period the island was known as Ile de France. The works of  Bernardin de Saint-Pierre  reminds us of the adventure and tragedy of Paul and Virginie and the wreck of the Saint Gerant in August 1744.

Mauritius is also known as the land of the dodo  - a bird which has become extinct mainly by the Dutch. The Dodo was fat and heavy and therefore could not fly and as a result of that was therefore easily caught and eaten for its meat which was very tasty. Even today new discoveries are made on this mysterious bird - This year a new discovery was made by a team of researches in the region of Mare aux Songes.

On 12th March 1968, Mauritius obtained its independence from the clutches of Britain after being ruled for almost 158 years and the man behind the freedom is Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam known as chacha for those who were intimate. SSR became then the first prime minister and after its defeat in the political arena was nominated  to serve as  governor general till his demise by the queen Elizabeth II of England ..

"Chacha - uncle" left for his heavenly abode on Sunday the 15th December 1985 but he still lives in the hearts of a section of Mauritians, those who wanted to be freed as opposed to the other section who had reservation about  living in an island predominantly dominated by Indians. There was an exodus of people after the independence - Chinese to Canada, Creoles to Australia and French whites to South Africa in their fear of being governed by an indian prime minister, but who knew then that this young nation knew how to persevere in racial harmony with the different segments of its population living in harmony.  

Today you land in Mauritius at the  Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam international airport, formerly known as Plaisance.


The size of the island is 1865 km² (740 square miles). The island is  sub divided  in 9 districts: Rivière du Rempart, Pamplemousses, Port Louis, Black River , Moka, Flacq, Plaines Wilhems , Savanne and Grand Port and the 10th district is known as its dependency - The Rodriques island..

Its length is 65 km and width is 45 km.

The main port is in the capital of the island which is  Port Louis. The harbour is situated in the North West, protected by winds from the Moka and Port Louis  barrier of mountains.


 The outer islands territories  are known as  Agalega,  Cargados  Caragos - Saint Brandon and Rodrigues and they are the territories of the republic of Mauritius with a population of around 1.4 million inhabitants. Mauritius is a multiracial country with its population, all immigrants coming from Asia, Africa and Europe. Today three cheers for this nation who lives in perfect harmony and envied by other nations ..

I cannot refrain myself from going a step further and saying "let`s remain united and live in peace and harmony forever as life is just too short".

Several languages are spoken in Mauritius: English, French, Hindi, Bhojpuri, Urdu, Tamil, Telegu, Mandarin. Creole  is spoken by a vast majority of Mauritians. In this language, one can find mostly words from French.

What really prides in  me is that I belong to the 4 th generation of indentured labourers who came from the North Eastern state of Bihar in India to toil the sugar cane fields in search of a brighter future with false promises made that on turning stones you `l l find gold. But unfortunately our ancestors never found gold beneath the rocks but only hardship, pain and sacrifice with a dream for a better future of their kins, who today even do not want to digest the mere idea of savouring their ancestral lunch and dinner based on plain rice, fried  salted snoek fish  with chillies and onions.

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Last modified: 08/15/08