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THE BASICS

Magnificently Mauritian: Keeping it local

Experience Mauritius / Vivre l'Île Maurice, the unique children's guide to the island, has been completely revised, updated and expanded in a bumper second edition, published in December 2011.
More info >>
Experience Mauritius / Vivre l'Île Maurice, the unique children's guide to the island, has been completely revised, updated and expanded in a bumper second edition, published in December 2011.
  • The Battle of Grand Port
    An activity book for young people

    Written by Bridget Langlois
    Illustrated by Olivier Lapierre
    More info
    >>
  • The Battle of Grand Port, An activity book for young people, Written by Bridget Langlois, Illustrated by Olivier Lapierre
  • New locally published children's book available:
    More info
    >>

  • Experience Mauritius:
    More info
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  • Experience Mauritius: a guide for young people
Bridget Langlois


    Interesting facts...

    'Dumb as a dodo?'

    Many misconceptions exist about the dodo – one of which is that it was stupid, presumably because it had given up flying. However, it had no predators (until the arrival of man) and plentiful food was within reach, so there was no need to fly. It was also reputed to be fat and ungainly, but research suggests that many drawings of fatter birds were of dodos taken by ship to other countries, during which they were fattened up. A final misconception is that the Dutch ate the bird into extinction, although we now know that the greatest threat to the dodo was from the introduced rats, pigs and monkeys, which ate the dodo eggs.



    Le Morne Brabant mountain
    Mauritius has two World Heritage Sites of which Le Morne Brabant mountain, in the south-west of Mauritius, is one. It is a symbol of the suffering of slaves and their fight for freedom. Some of the slaves, brought here from Madagascar, Africa and India, fled the horrific conditions of slavery and hid on this isolated and almost inaccessible mountain. Legend has it that a number of runaway slaves or 'maroons', who were hiding on the mountain, threw themselves to their deaths when they saw a group of men approaching them. They assumed that the men were coming to recapture them but instead they were actually bringing the news that slavery had been abolished.


    Pirates

    Mauritius has its own history of pirates, treasure and secrets. Between 1685 and 1730 the Indian Ocean was alive with a thousand pirates sailing under the Jolly Roger. The pirates set up their bases in Madagascar, Reunion, Seychelles and the Comoros islands. From there they launched their attacks on vessels sailing the Indian Ocean. Famous pirate names such as John Bowen, George Booth, Henry Avery (Long Ben), Olivier Le Vasseur (La Buse) and Olivier Misson are part of the stories that include the island of Mauritius. Treasure hunting in the 1900s took place at Flic en Flac, Black River, Bel Ombre and lately Souillac.


    Stamps

    The Mauritius two pence blue stamp and one penny red stamp are world-famous in philatelic circles today, due to the inscription that reads 'Post Office' instead of 'Post Paid'. Joseph Osmond Barnard, the engraver, was on his way to the postmaster to ask about the final inscription on his newly designed stamps, when he looked at the post office building, saw the words 'post office' and assumed that these would be the correct words. He finished his design, printed the stamps, which were used on invitations to Lady Gomm's grand ball, dated September 1847. Several hundred stamps were used before the mistake was realized.
     
     

    GETTING STARTED


    What does this country look like?
    Where is it?
    Who discovered it?
    Who governs it?
    What are the people like?
    What culture do they embrace?

    These are just a few questions to answer in order to put into context the many decisions that you will be making over the next couple of months.



    Geography

    The volcanic islands of Mauritius, Reunion and Rodriques are located in the southern hemisphere, in the south-west Indian Ocean. They form part of the Mascarene Archipelago, which was named after the Portuguese explorer Pedro Mascarenhas who visited Mauritius at the beginning of the sixteenth century. The length of the coastline of Mauritius is 177 km and the island is almost completely surrounded by a fringing coral reef. This small island is just 67 km long by 46 km wide, covering an area of 1860 km2. The land rises from the coast to a central plateau, surrounded by several small mountain ranges. The highest point on the island can be found at Piton de la Petite Riviere Noire (828 m) in the south-west.

    Environment protection fines: fixed penalties.

    Climate

    Summer is from November to April and is hot and wet. During January and February the weather is at its hottest, with temperatures between 23ºC and 33ºC. Winter is from May to October and is cooler and drier, with temperatures between 17ºC and 23ºC. Night temperatures can drop significantly, especially on the central plateau. Cyclones may occur during the summer, and the official cyclone season runs between 1 November and 15 May.

    You can check on the daily weather forecast, tide tables and cyclone activity on the Mauritius Meteorological Services website.

    People, language and religion

    The Mauritian population of about 1.2 million people is a harmonious blend of different cultures, races and religions. This includes expatriates from literally all over the world: from Australia to America, and from Sweden to South Africa. It is a society highly influenced by French, British and Indian cultures.

    The population can be broadly identified as comprising:
    Mauritian population demographics chart
    Although the official language is English, French is the dominant language of Mauritius in the media (both printed and broadcast), training and education. However, Creole (a blend of French, Hindi, Malagasy and other languages, originating as a common language between slaves from different countries) is the language most widely spoken by the local population.

    Other languages which can be heard are Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Bhojpuri, Gujarati and Punjabi. Chinese dialects, such as Cantonese, Hakka and Mandarin, are also spoken by significant parts of the population.

    The religion of Mauritius follows the historical path and as the population of the country grew in diversity so the people brought with them the religion closely linked to their culture. Today, in Mauritius, people live in religious harmony and Hindu temples exist next to Muslim mosques and Catholic or Protestant churches.

    Culture, cuisine and festivals

    Culture is a complex blend of beliefs, values, habits, customs, art, history, folklore, language, nationality, religion, ethnicity and much more. Four hundred years of influence from different dominant cultures has left Mauritius with a fascinating and varied cultural heritage and a tolerant attitude towards others.

    Mauritian cuisine is a delight for any taste bud. The influences of Indian, French, Chinese, African and Creole cuisines are obvious everywhere, although the Indian influence on food is more dominant. As you drive through the streets you will find vendors on bicycles, with a glass box bolted to the carrier, selling flatbread called rotis (made with plain flour) or dholl puris (made with crushed split peas/dholl, usually sold in pairs), served with curry, beans, chilli or rougaille (a tomato-based sauce).


    Different cultural festivals occur throughout the year, with the devoted participation of people from the cultural/religious group and with a visible tolerance from people of a different cultural orientation. Diwali, Chinese New Year, Eid-ul-Fitr, Easter, Cavadee and Christmas - all are celebrated in the rich tradition of their origin, often with an added Mauritian twist.


    History

    1000 AD Arab sailors, trading on the east coast of Africa, crossed the ocean in dhows and not only discovered Mauritius but also named all three islands on their maps, dated 1500 AD.
    ±1507-1511 The Portugese sailor Domingo Fernandez Pereira arrived on the island and renamed it 'Cirne' (meaning swan).
    1595 -1710 The Dutch appeared in 1595, under the command of Cornelius Houtman, to lay the foundation for eventually colonising the island (1638-1710). The island was renamed Mauritius, after Prince Maurice of Nassau.
    1715-1810 The French, led by Guillaume Dufresne d'Arsel, arrived five years after the Dutch abandoned Mauritius, apparently finding only the African slaves, previously brought in by the Dutch. During this time the island was known as Ile de France.
    1810-1968 The British occupation of the island came about during the Napoleonic Wars. Yet again the name changed, this time back to the name the Dutch gave it - Mauritius. The British, however, were not interested in converting the islanders to British ways, but took advantage of the island's location to put an end to the activities of the corsairs (pirates) in that part of the Indian Ocean. The inhabitants therefore retained their languages, cultures, religions and customs.
    1968 Independence from Britain finally arrived on 12 March 1968 and the country became the Republic of Mauritius under the Commonwealth in 1992. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam was elected as the first Prime Minister and remained in office for thirteen years.

    Government and law

    From governors to recognized self-governing parliament in just under 400 years, where all Mauritian citizens aged eighteen and above are allowed to cast their vote in national elections held every five years - not a bad track record for a relatively young democracy.

    The legal system is based on the French civil law system with elements of English common law in certain areas.

    Coat of arms, flag and national anthem

    The coat of arms of Mauritius reflects the strategic location of the island and the importance as a crossroad of sea routes between Australia, Africa and the East. This is expressed in the motto, which reads 'Star and key of the Indian Ocean'. It can be seen on official government websites, documents and as a flag alongside the national flag on official occasions.

    The colours of the national flag reflect the colours of the coat of arms, but are now described as representing the following:

      Red recalls the struggle for independence
      Blue stands for the Indian Ocean
      Yellow expresses hope for a bright future
      Green represents agriculture and vegetation.

    The national anthem of Mauritius is known as Motherland and was adopted in 1968. The lyrics were written by Jean Gorges Prosper and the music composed by Phillipe Gentil, a member of the Police Force Band at that time.

    Motherland
    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
    In peace, justice and liberty
    Beloved country
    May God bless thee
    For ever and ever

    Listen to the national anthem

    Economy

    The Mauritian economy has undergone significant changes since independence. From being a country dependant on the sugar industry alone, it has developed a more diverse economy, now including the textile industry, tourism, IT and financial services. The current boom in land and property development is evident everywhere and the introduction of Integrated Resort Schemes (IRS) is contributing towards maintaining the Mauritian economy as one of the strongest and most competitive in the African region.

    Budget Speech:

    2014


     

     



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    This page was revised on 14-Jan-2014

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