Star and Key of the Indian Ocean

Date: Wednesday, 20 March 2019 | Now is 05:58 in Port Louis, 0oF 0 oC
 

Mauritius

General Information

Tourism

Economy

General Information

General Information

Geographic Location

Mauritius, an island covering 1,860 square kilometres (720 square miles), is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1242 miles) off the South East coast of Africa at 20 degrees South of the Equator and on longitude 57.5 degrees East. More than 150 kilometres of white sandy beaches and transparent lagoons are protected from the open sea by the world´s third largest coral reef, which surrounds the island. A central plateau rises to a level of about 600 metres and is marked by deep extinct volcanic craters, cris-crossed by rivers, streams and waterfalls. Bordering this tableland are three mountain ranges with fantastically-shaped masses of basalt that testify to the volcanic origin of the island. From these mountains, several peaks emerge: Piton de la Rivière Noire (828 metres), Pieter Both (823 metres) and Le Pouce (812 metres).
A few uninhabited islets are scattered around the main island, and Rodrigues, its 10th district lies 600 km North East of Mauritius.

Climate

Mauritius does not have extreme temperatures either in summer or winter and is thus considered a year-round destination.
In the central part of the island, at about 600 metres above sea level, temperatures vary from about 18 degrees centigrade in August to about 28 degrees in February. Along coastal areas, the temperature is generally 3-5 degrees higher, and the western and northern regions are generally drier than the East and South.
Occasional cyclones can occur during the wettest months from November to March.
Daylight hours are approximately 5.30am to 7pm in summer (November to April) and 6.45am to 5.40pm in winter (May to October).

Time

Mauritius time is 2 hours ahead of Central European Time in summer and 3 hours in winter.

Historical Highlights

1507: First Discovery of the island by the Portuguese Pedro Mascarenas
1598 Dutch colonisation. They name the island ´Mauritius´ after Prince Maurice Van Nassau
1710: The Dutch abandon the island after having introduced sugarcane, deer from Java and monkeys. However, the ebony forests have been decimated and the dodo bird has become extinct.
1715: The French take possession of the island and name it ´Isle de France´. They develop the infrastructure and economy of the island and found the capital Port-Louis.
1810: The naval battle of Grand Port in August sees the victory of the French over the British. However, three months later British troops land by surprise in the North. The French General Decaen surrenders the island to the British to avoid further bloodshed.
1814: The Treaty of Paris ratifies the surrender of Mauritius and its dependencies Rodrigues and Seychelles to the British.
1903: Seychelles is detached from Mauritius and becomes a separate British colony.
1968: Mauritius gains independence from Britain.
1992: Mauritius becomes a Republic.

Population

Mauritius was uninhabited until its colonisation. The Dutch who first occupied the island for only 70 years left behind a few slaves. The French who colonised the island in the 18th century settled with their slaves brought from Africa and Madagascar. When the British abolished slavery in 1835, they brought in indentured labour from India to work in the sugarcane fields. Chinese and Muslim traders were attracted to these shores in the 19th century and early 20th centuries.
Today the population of 1.2 million is made up of people coming from three continents and the blending of these races gives an interesting mixture of every hue and colour. The main religions of Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism are practised with the celebration of every major feast giving rise to colourful events. In the same area, one can come across a church, a temple, a mosque and a pagoda. Mauritians work, play and pray together demonstrating a harmonious society respectful of each other´s religion.

Language

With such a colourful background, many Mauritians are trilingual. English is the official language and is widely understood. French and Creole predominate in everyday life. A number of oriental languages are also spoken. Employees of the tourism industry are also trained to converse with their guests in several other languages including German, Italian and Spanish.


Currency

The monetary unit is the Mauritian Rupee (Rs.) which is divided into 100 cents. The Mauritian Rupee is not an international currency. However, most major currencies can be changed on arrival at the airport, in hotels and banks everywhere on the island.
Major credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs easily found.


Accessibility

As a major tourist destination, Mauritius has air connections with major European and African cities as well as Australia and the other islands in the Indian Ocean. Its national carrier, Air Mauritius, services more than 30

The Dodo

Dodos were descendents of a type of pigeon which settled in Mauritius over 4 million years ago. With no predators to attack them, they lost their need and ability to fly. They lived and nested on the ground and ate fruits that had fallen from trees. There were no mammals on the island and a high diversity of bird species lived in the dense forests.
In 1505, the Portuguese became the first humans to set foot on Mauritius. The island quickly became a stopover for ships engaged in the spice trade. Weighing up to 50 pounds, the dodo was a welcome source of fresh meat for the sailors. Large numbers of dodos were killed for food.
Later, when the Dutch used the island as a penal colony, pigs and monkeys were brought to the island along with the convicts. Many of the ships that came to Mauritius also had uninvited rats aboard, some of which escaped onto the island. Before humans and other mammals arrive the dodo had little to fear from predators. The rats, pigs and monkeys ate dodo eggs in the ground nests.
The combination of human exploitation and introduced species significantly reduced the dodo population. Within 100 years of the arrival of humans on Mauritius, the once abundant dodo became a rare bird. The last one was killed in 1681.