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Coordinates: 20°12′S 57°30′E / 20.2°S 57.5°E / -20.2; 57.5

Republic of Mauritius
Republik Moris
République de Maurice
Flag Coat of arms
Motto"Stella Clavisque Maris Indici"  (Latin)
"Star and Key of the Indian Ocean"
AnthemMotherland
Capital Port Louis
20°10′S 57°31′E / 20.167°S 57.517°E / -20.167; 57.517
Official language(s) English[1][2]
Vernacular Mauritian Creole, French, English
Demonym Mauritian
Government Parliamentary republic
 -  President Sir Anerood Jugnauth
 -  Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam
Independence from the United Kingdom 
 -  Date 12 March 1968 
 -  Republic 12 March 1992 
Area
 -  Total 2,040 km2 (179th)
787 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 0.05
Population
 -  2008 estimate 1,288,000[3] (151st)
 -  2000 census 1,179,137 
 -  Density 631.4/km2 (18th)
1,636.5/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2009 estimate
 -  Total $15.831 billion[4] 
 -  Per capita $12,291[4] 
GDP (nominal) 2009 estimate
 -  Total $9.156 billion[4] 
 -  Per capita $7,109[4] 
HDI (2007) 0.804 (high) (81st)
Currency Mauritian rupee (MUR)
Time zone MUT (UTC+4)
 -  Summer (DST)  (UTC+5 (2008 only)[5][6])
Drives on the left
Internet TLD .mu
Calling code 230

Mauritius (pronounced /məˈrɪʃəs/; French: L’île Maurice pronounced: [lil mɔˈʁis], Mauritian Creole: Moris), officially the Republic of Mauritius (French: République de Maurice) is an island nation off the coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about 900 kilometres (560 mi) east of Madagascar. In addition to the island of Mauritius, the Republic includes the islands of Cargados Carajos, Rodrigues and the Agalega Islands. Mauritius is part of the Mascarene Islands, with the French island of Réunion 200 km (120 mi) to the southwest and the island of Rodrigues 570 km (350 mi) to the northeast.

Uninhabited until the 17th century, the island was ruled first by the Dutch and then the French after the Dutch had abandoned it. The British took control during the Napoleonic Wars and Mauritius became independent from the UK in 1968. Mauritius is a parliamentary republic and is member of the Southern African Development Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa the African Union and the Commonwealth of Nations.

The main languages spoken in Mauritius are Mauritian Creole, French and English. English is the only official language but the lingua franca is Creole and the newspapers and television programmes are usually in French.[7] Ethnically, the majority of the population is Indian and there are also many people of African descent on the island and there are also European and Chinese minorities. It is the only African nation where the largest religion is Hinduism although Christianity and Islam also have significant populations.

The island of Mauritius is renowned for having been the only known home of the dodo. First sighted by Europeans around 1600 on Mauritius, the dodo became extinct less than eighty years later. Although, not in the First World, Mauritius is generally regarded as a developed country similar to Turkey, Serbia and Croatia.

Contents

History

A postcard c.1900-1910 showing the Port Louis theatre.

Mauritius was uninhabited until being permanently settled by European explorers in the 1600s.[8] The island was known by Arab and Austronesian sailors as early as the 10th century.[9] The Portuguese sailors first visited it in 1507 and established a visiting base leaving the island uninhabited. Five ships of the Dutch Second Fleet were blown off course during a cyclone while on their way to the Spice Islands and landed on the island in 1598, naming it in honour of Prince Maurice of Nassau, the Stadtholder of the Netherlands.[10][11]

In 1638, the Dutch established the first permanent settlement. Because of tough climatic conditions including cyclones and the deterioration of the settlement, the Dutch abandoned the island some decades later in 1710.[12] France, which already controlled the neighbouring Île Bourbon (now Réunion) took control of Mauritius in 1715 and later renamed it Île de France (Isle of France). Under French rule, the island developed a prosperous economy based on sugar production.

In the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) the British set out to gain control of the island. Despite winning the Battle of Grand Port, Napoleon's only naval victory over the British, the French surrendered to a British invasion at Cap Malheureux three months later. They formally surrendered on 3 December 1810, on terms allowing settlers to keep their land and property and to use the French language and law of France in criminal and civil matters. Under British rule, the island's name reverted to the original one. Mauritius then went on to become independent in 1968.

Politics

The official residence of the President, Le chateau de Reduit

The Government is elected on a five-year basis. The most recent general elections took place on July 3, 2005 in all the 20 mainland constituencies, as well as the constituency covering the island of Rodrigues. Historically, elections have tended to be a contest between two major coalitions of parties. In international affairs, Mauritius is part of the Indian Ocean Commission, the Southern African Development Community and the Commonwealth of Nations and La Francophonie (French speaking countries), amongst others. A more complete list can be found in the main Politics of Mauritius article.

Sir Anerood Jugnauth, the father of the republic

In 2006, Mauritius asked to be an observing member of Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) in order to become closer to those countries.[13]

According to the 2009 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which measures governance using a number of different variables, Mauritius' government earned the highest rank among African nations for "participation and human rights" and "sustainable economic opportunity", as well as earning the highest score in the index overall. Mauritius came second in "rule of law", and fourth in terms of "human development".[14]

Office Held Office Holder Incumbency Religion
President
Head of state
Commander in chief
The Rt.Hon Sir Anerood Jugnauth, Qc, KCMG, PC, GCSK 7 October 2003 Hindu
Vice President Angidi Chettiar 2 November 2007 Hindu
Prime Minister The Hon. Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam GCSK ,MP 5 July 2005 Hindu
Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Rashid Beebeejaun, GCSK,MP 7 July 2005 Muslim
Vice Prime Minister
Minister Of Tourism
Hon. Xavier Luc Duval GCSK ACCA, MP 7 July 2005 Christian
Vice Prime Minister
Finance Minister Of Mauritius
Hon. Dr Rama Sithanen GCSK, MP 7 July 2005 Hindu
Senior Minister
National Social Security Minister
The Hon. Mrs Sheilabai Bappoo GOSK, MP 7 July 2005 Hindu
Leader of the Opposition The Hon. Paul Raymond Bérenger GCSK, MP 7 July 2005 Christian

Military and police

Mauritius does not have a standing army. All military, police, and security functions are carried out by 10,000 active-duty personnel under the command of the Commissioner of Police. This consists of an 8,000 member National Police which is responsible for domestic law enforcement, a 1,500 member Special Mobile Force (SMF), and a 500-member National Coast Guard.

Geography

Map of Mauritius
Satellite image of Mauritius, February 2003, with traced outline of island
Beach scenery on Rodrigues Island, part of the Republic of Mauritius

Together with Réunion and Rodrigues, Mauritius is part of the Mascarene Islands. This archipelago was formed in a series of undersea volcanic eruptions 8-10 million years ago, as the African plate drifted over the Réunion hotspot. They are no longer volcanically active, and the hotspot now rests under Réunion. The island of Mauritius itself is formed around a central plateau, with its highest peak in the southwest, Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire at 828 metres (2,717 ft). Around the plateau, the original crater can still be distinguished from several mountains.

The local climate is tropical, modified by southeast trade winds; there is a warm, dry winter from May to November and a hot, wet, and humid summer from November to May. Anti-cyclones affect the country during May to September. Cyclones affect the country during November-April. Hollanda (1994) and Dina (2002) were the worst two last cyclones to have affected the island.

The island's capital and largest city is Port Louis, in the northwest. Other important towns are Rose-Hill and Beau-Bassin, Curepipe, Vacoas, Phoenix, Quatre Bornes.

Environment

The environment in Mauritius is typically tropical in the coastal regions with forests in the mountainous areas. Seasonal cyclones are destructive to the flora and fauna but it recovers quickly. Mauritius has a "Ministry Of Environment" which is responsible for the cleanliness of the Island, One of their tasks is garbage and litter collection at public places, they do an admirable job at the areas which they service for the mindset of the indigenous humans is to discard litter at will, this results in large quantities of plastic accumulating in places which the Ministry of Environment doesn't service rendering many beaches unsightly due to the litter. The government did embark on a anti-litter campaign at the schools a few years ago but to no avail as the adults regard it their right to dispose of their litter with little thought given to the environment.[citation needed]

Districts and dependencies

Districts of Mauritius

Phoenix, one of the main towns of the country

The island of Mauritius itself is divided into nine districts:

  1. Black River (Capital: Bambous)
  2. Flacq (Capital: Centre de Flacq)
  3. Grand Port (Capital: Mahébourg)
  4. Moka (Capital: Quartier Militaire)
  5. Pamplemousses (Capital: Triolet)
  6. Plaines Wilhems (Capital: Beau Bassin and Rose Hill, Phoenix)
  7. Port Louis (Capital of Mauritius)
  8. Rivière du Rempart (Capital: Mapou)
  9. Savanne (Capital: Souillac)

Dependencies

  • Rodrigues, an island 560 kilometres (350 mi) north-east of Mauritius, which attained limited autonomy in October 2002.[15][16] It had the status of the 10th administrative district of Mauritius before autonomy was attained.[17]
  • Agalega, two small islands about 933 kilometres (580 mi) north of Mauritius, famous for supplying chickens.
  • Cargados Carajos, also known as the Saint Brandon islands, about 402 kilometres (250 mi) north of Mauritius.

Fishing Banks within EEZ

Four submerged fishing banks are mentioned in government documents because they fall within EEZ limits:

Claimed as Dependencies

Mauritius also claims the following territories:[18]

Economy

Skyline of Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius

Since independence in 1968, Mauritius has developed from a low-income, agriculturally based economy to a middle income diversified economy with growing industrial, financial, and tourist sectors. For most of the period, annual growth has been of the order of 5% to 6%. This has been reflected in increased life expectancy, lowered infant mortality and improved infrastructure.

Estimated at US$10,155 for 2005 at purchasing power parity (PPP),[19] Mauritius has the seventh-highest GDP per capita in Africa, behind Réunion (US$19,233 at real exchange rates),[20] Seychelles (US$13,887 at PPP), Gabon (US$12,742 at PPP), Botswana (US$12,057 at PPP), Equatorial Guinea (US$11,999 at PPP), and Libya (US$10,727 at PPP).[19] The economy is mainly dependent on sugarcane plantations, tourism, textiles, and services, but other sectors are rapidly developing as well. Mauritius, Libya, and Seychelles are the only three African nations with a "high" Human Development Index rating (Réunion, as part of France, is not listed by the UN in their Human Development Index ranking).

Sugar cane is grown on about 90% of the cultivated land area and accounts for 25% of export earnings. However, a record-setting drought severely damaged the sugar crop in 1999. The government's development strategy centres on foreign investment. Mauritius has attracted more than 9,000 offshore entities; many aimed at commerce in India and South Africa while investment in the banking sector alone has reached over $1 billion. Economic performance during the period from 2000 through 2004 combined strong economic growth with unemployment at 7.6% in December 2004. France is the country's biggest trading partner, has close ties with the country, and provides technical assistance in various forms.

In order to provide locals with access to imports at lower prices and attract more tourists going to Singapore and Dubai, Mauritius is gearing towards becoming a duty-free island within the next four years. Duty has been eliminated for several products and decreased for more than 1850 products including clothing, food, jewelry, photographic equipment, audio visual equipment and lighting equipment.[21] In addition, reforms aimed at attracting new business opportunities have also been implemented. But, one of the biggest impediments is the traffic movement between the towns, which is slowing the development of Mauritius. The corporate tax has recently been reduced to 15% to encourage non resident companies to trade or invest through a permanent establishment or otherwise.

Mauritius ranks first among all countries in FDI inflows to India, with cumulative inflows amounting to US$10.98 billion. The top sectors attracting FDI inflows from Mauritius between January 2000 and December 2005 were electrical equipment, telecommunications, fuels, cement and gypsum products and services sector (financial and non-financial).[22]

Transportation

The only available means of inland public transport, so far, are via taxi cabs and buses.[citation needed]

Transport in Mauritius has been free since July 2005 for students, the disabled and seniors. Transport has always been problematic around Port-Louis, the capital city, due to severe traffic jams. These are caused by both a lack of planning, and tolerance of hawkers flooding the pavements and streets of the capital.[citation needed]

Education

Education from pre-primary through to secondary is free for each citizen born in the country.

Before 2001, most prestigious schools used to be called "Star Schools" and each year, the CPE pupils would compete against each other to gain entrance to those schools based on a ranking system. In 2001, the government - with Steven Obeegadoo as minister of Education - decided that there would be an educational reform in Mauritius. The ranking system was abolished and replaced by the grading system coupled with the regionalisation system which advocates going to a school near one's residence. In February 2006, with Dharambeer Gokhool as minister of Education, the "A+" system, which is similar to the pre-2001 system, was introduced. CPE students now need to get "A+" in all their subjects to gain admission to "National Colleges" which consequently became as much coveted as the "Star Schools" were before the reform.[23]

The following is a list of the "National Colleges" in no particular order.[24][25]

National Colleges (Star Schools)

  • Royal College Port Louis(Boys)
  • John Kennedy College (Boys)
  • Piton State College (Boys)
  • Royal College Curepipe (Boys)
  • Sir Abdool Raman Osman State College (Boys)
  • Sir Leckraz Teelock SSS (Boys)
  • Sookdeo Bissoondoyal State College (Boys)
  • Droopnath Ramphul State College (Girls)
  • Dr Maurice Curé State College (Girls)
  • Forest Side SSS (Girls)
  • France Boyer de la Giroday SSS (Girls)
  • Gaëtan Raynal State College (Girls)
  • G. M. Dawjee Atchia State College (ex Port Louis State College | Girls)
  • Queen Elizabeth College (Girls)
  • Mahatma Gandhi Institute (mixed)

Demographics

The population estimate for the whole republic is 1,264,867. For the island of Mauritius only, as at 31 December 2007, it is 1,227,078.[26] Mauritian society includes people from many different ethnic groups. The republic's residents are the descendants of people from continental Africa (Mauritian Creole people usually known as 'Creoles'), India (Indo-Mauritian), France (Franco-Mauritian) and China (Sino-Mauritian), among other places.

Religion

Hindus make up 52%, Roman Catholic 28.4%, and Muslim 16.6% while other unspecified religions up to 3%. There is supposedly a significant migrant population of Bhumihar Brahmins in Mauritius who have made a mark for themselves in different fields.[27] Churches and Dravidian Tamil pagodas and temples are found in large numbers.[28]

Most Creoles are Christian. The majority of the Muslims and the whole Hindu population come from India and Pakistan. Some Muslims are also from the Middle East. Hindus include Bhojpuri, Tamil, Marathi and Telugu speakers. A minority of people are of Chinese descent, many of whom have embraced Christianity, following mainly Roman Catholicism. Some follow Buddhism and Confucian traditions. The constitution of the country sees the rest of the people as General Population. Recently, voices have called for the advocation of 'creolity' from people with slave-descent blood. The authorities seem to be approving the recognition of this request since the 'Festival Créole' was hosted and financed by the government.

Language

The Mauritian Constitution makes no mention of an official language and its one million citizens speak either Mauritian Creole, a French-based creole, English or French. It is only in the Parliament that the official language is English but any member of the National Assembly can still address the chair in French.[1][29] However, English is generally accepted as the official language of Mauritius and as the language of government administration and the court business. The lingua franca is Creole.[7] In Mauritius, people switch languages according to the situation.[30] Creole and Bhojpuri are the main languages used at home, both French and Creole are used in a business context and English is used most in schools and governments.[30] French and English, which have long enjoyed greater social status, are favored in educational and professional settings.[30] Also, most newspapers and media communications are in French.[31] Mauritian Créole, which is spoken by 90 percent of the population, is considered to be the native tongue of the country and is used most often in informal settings.[30] It was developed in the 18th century by slaves who used a pidgin language to communicate with each other as well as with their French masters, who did not understand the various African languages. The pidgin evolved with later generations to become a casual language.[31] Mauritian Creole is a French-based creole due to its close ties with French pronunciation and vocabulary.[32]

Other languages spoken in Mauritius include Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Marathi, Urdu, Hakka (a Chinese dialect), Mandarin, Gujarati, and Bhojpuri, which is an amalgamation of several Indian dialects spoken by the early Indian settlers.[7] Most Mauritians are at least bilingual, if not trilingual.[7][31][33][34]

Culture

A woman performs the sega in Pointe-aux-Piments, Mauritius.

The cuisine of Mauritius is a blend of Indian, Creole, Chinese and European influences. It is common for a combination of cuisines to form part of the same meal.

The production of rum, which is made from sugar cane, is widespread on the island. Sugarcane was first introduced to Mauritius by the Dutch in 1638. The Dutch mainly cultivated sugarcane for the production of "arrack", a precursor to rum. However, it was during the French and British administrations that sugar production was fully exploited. Pierre Charles François Harel was the first to propose the concept of local distillation of rum in Mauritius, in 1850. Beer is also produced on the Island, by the Phoenix Brewery.

The sega is a local folklore music. Sega has African roots and the main traditional instruments for producing the music are goat-skin percussion instruments called ravane and metallic clicks using metal triangles. The songs usually describe the miseries of slavery, and has been adapted nowadays as social satires to voice out inequalities as felt by the blacks. Men are usually at the instruments while women perform an accompanying dance which is often erotic.[35]

Mauritius was the only known habitat of the extinct dodo bird

In 1847, Mauritius became the fifth location in the world to issue postage stamps. The two types of stamps issued then, known as the Mauritius "Post Office" stamps, consisting of a "Red Penny" and a "Blue Two Pence" denomination, are probably the most famous and valuable stamps in the world.[citation needed]

When it was discovered, the island of Mauritius was the home of a previously unknown species of bird, which the Portuguese named the dodo (simpleton), as they appeared to be not too bright. By 1681, all dodos had been killed by the settlers or by their domesticated animals. An alternate theory suggests that the imported wild boars that were set free destroyed the slow-breeding dodo population. The dodo is prominently featured as a supporter of the national coat-of-arms (see above).

The island has also given rise to a diversified literature in French, English and Creole. Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, the 2008 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, is of Franco-Mauritian origin and lives on the island for part of each year.

In Mauritius, the following festivals — Christmas, Cavadee, Chinese New Year, Père Laval, Diwali, Mahashivratri and Eid Al-Fitr — are celebrated.[35]

Recreational activities in Mauritius are quite varied to support the local tourism industry. Water sports are facilitated as the island is surrounded with coral reef, providing plenty of relatively shallow and calm water. Activities such as deep sea fishing, surfing, windsurfing, water-skiing, cruising in yachts and even submarines are some of the many water based recreations available. Although it breaks seldomly, Tamarin Bay is one of the world's most famous surfing spots.

Land-based leisure activities include golf, tennis, skiing, sea diving, deer hunting, quad & mountain biking, abseiling, zip lining, horse riding and trekking. However, all these are most often practiced by the elite only.

Electrical power

Mauritius uses a 220 Volt 50 Hz AC mains supply. The plugs are Type C and Type G:

Type C / "Europlug" (CEE 7/16)
Type G / BS1363 Fused 13 A

International rankings

Survey Organisation Ranking
2010 EPI Environmental Performance Index 6 out of 163
2010 Index of Economic Freedom Heritage Foundation/The Wall Street Journal 12 out of 179
Corruption Perceptions Index 2008 Transparency International 41 out of 180
Ease of Doing Business Index (2010 report) World Bank Group 17 out of 183
Digital Opportunity Index (2007) International Telecommunication Union 50 out of 181
Press Freedom Index (2007) Reporters Without Borders 25 out of 169
Human Development Index (2008) United Nations Development Programme 74 out of 177

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Article 49 of The Constitution". National Assembly of Mauritius. http://www.gov.mu/portal/site/AssemblySite/menuitem.ee3d58b2c32c60451251701065c521ca/?content_id=4cb54555fc808010VgnVCM100000ca6a12acRCRD#assembly. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  2. ^ "Republic of Mauritius, Government Portal (Mauritius)". http://www.gov.mu/portal/site/abtmtius/menuitem.42f3149f267522984d57241079b521ca. 
  3. ^ Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2009) (.PDF). World Population Prospects, Table A.1. 2008 revision. United Nations. http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/wpp2008/wpp2008_text_tables.pdf. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Mauritius". International Monetary Fund. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2009/02/weodata/weorept.aspx?sy=2006&ey=2009&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&c=684&s=NGDPD%2CNGDPDPC%2CPPPGDP%2CPPPPC%2CLP&grp=0&a=&pr.x=47&pr.y=3. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  5. ^ Mauritius turns the clock forward in October 2008
  6. ^ Mauritius will not repeat daylight saving time
  7. ^ a b c d Coexistence International at Brandeis University
  8. ^ Mauritius, Réunion & Seychelles. Lonely Planet. 2007. p. 37. ISBN 1741047277, 9781741047271. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=x6dxoKuhDIIC&pg=PA37&dq=mauritius+first+inhabitants&hl=fr&cd=4#v=onepage&q=mauritius%20first%20inhabitants&f=false. Retrieved 2010-01-28. 
  9. ^ "CIA - The World Factbook -- Mauritius". CIA. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mp.html#Intro. Retrieved 2007-05-04. 
  10. ^ Mutch, T. D. (1942). The First Discovery of Australia. Sydney: Project Gutenberg of Australia. pp. 55. http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0600631h.html. , p.13.
  11. ^ The Hudson River in North America was first named "Mauritius River" for the same Stadtholder.
  12. ^ Changing Definitions of Ethnic Boundaries on Mauritius
  13. ^ "Mauritius and Equatorial Guinea granted associated observer status in CPLP". macauhub.com. 2006-07-17. http://www.macauhub.com.mo/en/news.php?ID=1671. Retrieved 2007-03-05. 
  14. ^ Moibrahim Foundation
  15. ^ "First Day Cover: Rodrigues Regional Assembly". The Mauritius Post Ltd. 2004-10-12. http://www.mauritiuspost.mu/museum/fdc/other.php?id=91. Retrieved 2007-06-27. 
  16. ^ "Rodrigues: achievements after three years of autonomy". Government of Mauritius. 2005-10-25. http://pmo.gov.mu/portal/site/Mainhomepage/menuitem.a42b24128104d9845dabddd154508a0c/?content_id=5d96d575d1a88010VgnVCM100000ca6a12acRCRD. Retrieved 2007-06-27. 
  17. ^ "Facts about the land, people, history, government, political conditions, foreign relations of Mauritius. - Government and political conditions". Bureau of African Affairs. U.S Department of State. June 2007. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2833.htm#political. Retrieved 2007-06-22. 
  18. ^ "CIA - The World Factbook -- Mauritius". CIA. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mp.html#Issues. Retrieved 2007-11-194. 
  19. ^ a b World Bank. "2005 International Comparison Program" (PDF). http://siteresources.worldbank.org/ICPINT/Resources/ICPreportprelim.pdf. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  20. ^ (French) INSEE Réunion. "11.1 - Résultats économiques" (PDF). http://www.insee.fr/fr/insee_regions/reunion/rfc/docs/ter2007_11_1_resultats_economiques.pdf. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  21. ^ Duty-free plan in Mauritius, Trend-News.com, 04-06-2005
  22. ^ "India and Mauritius To Work For Greater FDI Inflow into India's Infrastructure". Government of India, Department of Commerce.. 2006-04-18. http://commerce.nic.in/pressrelease/pressrelease_detail.asp?id=232. Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  23. ^ Education Reform Implementation
  24. ^ "Cabinet Decisions". August 2007. http://www.gov.mu/portal/site/=?content_id=dcecc4a218cb4110VgnVCM1000000a04a8c0RCRD. Retrieved 2009-09-07. 
  25. ^ CPE 2008 Admission to form I on a National basis
  26. ^ "Population and Vital Statistics, Republic of Mauritius, Year 2007 - Highlights". Central Statistics Office (Mauritius). March 2008. http://www.gov.mu/portal/goc/cso/ei683/toc.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  27. ^ Thapan (ed.), Meenakshi (2005). Transnational Migration and the Politics of Identity. SAGE. p. 320. ISBN 978-0761934257. 
  28. ^ Mountain, Alan et al.. "Mauritius". This is Mauritius. pp. 53–54. 
  29. ^ Mauritius defies anglophone past to embrace French language
  30. ^ a b c d English Usage in Mauritius
  31. ^ a b c Facts and Figures
  32. ^ Holm, J. (1989). Pidgins and Creoles. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 476. http://books.google.ca/books?id=PcD7p9y3EIcC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_v2_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q=&f=false. , p.353.
  33. ^ Circular Migration Agreement will enable Mauritians work in France
  34. ^ Most Mauritians Bilingual
  35. ^ a b Macdonald, Fiona et al.. "Mauritius". Peoples of Africa. pp. 340–341. 

Further reading

  • Macdonald, Fiona; Marshall Cavendish Corporation, Elizabeth Paren, Kevin Shillington, Gillian Stacey, Philip Steele (2001). "Mauritius". Peoples of Africa. US: Marshall Cavendish. ISBN 9780761471585. 
  • Mountain, Alan; Alain Proust (2000). This is Mauritius. Struik. ISBN 9781843303015. 
  • Eisenlohr, Patrick (2006). Little India: Diaspora, Time, and Ethnolinguistic Belonging in Hindu Mauritius. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520248809. 
  • Dodd, Jan and Madeleine Philippe. Lonely Planet Mauritius Reunion & Seychelles.Lonely Planet Publications, 2004. ISBN 1-74059-301-4
  • Lee, Jacques: Mauritius: Its Creole Language - The Ultimate Creole Phrase Book and Dictionary, Paperback 160 pages (August 15, 2005), Publisher: Nautilus, ISBN 0-9511296-4-3.
  • Lee, Jacques: Sega: The Mauritian Folk Dance, Paperback 104 pages (December 1990), Publisher: Nautilus, ISBN 0-9511296-1-9
  • Khal Torabully, Coolitude : An Anthology of the Indian Labour Diaspora (with Marina Carter, Anthem Press, London, 2002) ISBN 1-84331-003-1

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

noframe
Location
noframe
Flag
Image:mp-flag.png
Quick Facts
Capital Port Louis
Government parliamentary democracy
Currency Mauritian rupee (MUR)
Area 2,040 km2
Population 1,230,602 (July 2006 est.)
Language English (official), Mauritian Creole, French, Hindi, Urdu, Hakka, Bhojpuri
Religion Hindu 52%, Christian 28.3% (Roman Catholic 26%, Protestant 2.3%), Muslim 16.6%, other 3.1%
Electricity 230V/50Hz (European or UK plug)
Calling Code +230
Internet TLD .mu
Time Zone UTC+4

Mauritius (French: L’île Maurice, Mauritian Creole: Maurice)[1] is a small, multicultural island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar and southeast of the Seychelles.

  • Northern Mauritius
  • Eastern Mauritius
  • Southern Mauritius
  • Western Mauritius
  • Central Mauritius

Mauritius also controls Rodrigues island and the remote, sparsely populated Agalega and Cargados Garayos (Saint Brandon) islands.

Map of Mauritius
Map of Mauritius
  • Port Louis - Capital
  • Beau Bassin
  • Rose Hill
  • Quatre Bornes
  • Phoenix
  • Vacoas
  • Curepipe
  • Macabée Bel Ombre Nature Preserve
  • Domaine du Chasseur Nature Preserve

Understand

History

The discovery of Mauritius Island was first made by the Arab sailors, at this time the island was a dense forest. There is no exact date of when Mauritius was discovered by the Arabs, it is said to be around the 9th century. But the Arab sailors were not interested in settling on the island which they named Dina Arobi or Dinarobin. Fernandez Pereira, a Portuguese sailor who saw the island decided to give it the name of Cerne. But the Portuguese sailors were not interested to settle on the island. Discovered by the Portuguese in 1505, Mauritius was subsequently held by the Dutch, French, and British before independence was attained in 1968.

The first to colonise the island were the Dutch. They took possession of the island in 1598. The Dutch settlers came on the island by a bay in the south eastern part of the island which was named Warwyck Haven after the commander VanWarwyck, the bay is now known as Grand Port. Mauritius also got its name during this period; the island was named after the Prince of Holland Mauritz de Nassau.

In 1710, the Dutch abandoned the island, leaving behind macaques, the java deer, sugar cane, fugitive slaves and, also, an irreversible damage to the endemic and indigenous flora and fauna of the island - the Dodo was, by then, extinct due to extensive hunting (and the extreme ease in capturing the bird) while the, once abundant, black ebony tree population was almost completely depleted due to over-exploitation for its timber.

The French settled on the island in 1715 and also landed at the bay in the southeast and named it Port Bourbon. They renamed the island as Ile de France. They made settlement on the north-western side of the island which became the harbour and was named Port Louis which is also the capital of Mauritius. During the French settlement there has been a lot of development in the country. Mahé de Labourdonnais , whose statue is found in Port Louis in face of the harbour, is known as the founder of the capital city and the island prospered under his governance (1735-1746).

In August 1810, the British tried to take over the island but lost after a fierce battle against the French in the famous Battle of Grand Port - the only victory of the French over the British. However, the British came back in December 1810 and successfully defeated the French. From then on, the island was renamed Mauritius and remained under the rule of British until they attained independence on the 12 March 1968 within the Commonwealth.

In 1835, slavery was officially abolished and, as most of the African slaves chose to abandon the agricultural fields and retire into small coastal villages, indentured labourers (Coolies) were brought in from India to work in the growing sugar-cane industry against a salary. [2]

Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam also known as the "Father of the Nation" was the one who brought the island to independence and did a lot for the country. On the 12 March 1992, Mauritius became a Republic under the rule of the then Prime Minister Sir Aneerood Jugnauth .

A stable democracy with regular free elections and a positive human rights record, the country has attracted considerable foreign investment and has earned one of Africa's highest per capita incomes. Recent poor weather and declining sugar prices have slowed economic growth leading to some protests over standards of living in the Creole community.

Climate

Tropical, modified by southeast trade winds; warm, dry winter (May to November); hot, wet, humid summer (November to May); Natural hazards : Tropical cyclones (November to April);but most cyclones usually occur from the end of December until March. Mauritius has only two seasons, winter and summer. There is not much temperature differences between the two seasons of the year. The climate on the central plateau is cooler than on the coastal areas. The West coast is much wetter and more humid than the East coast.

  • Hottest part is the west coast
  • Windiest part is the East coast
  • December to February are the hottest month of the year
  • The driest month of the year is October
  • Coolest months are from June to August
  • Mauritius Weather [3] - Actual weather report from the Mauritius region.

Get in

The nationals of many countries, including most Western countries do not need a visa in advance. For more information, visit the Passport and Immigration Office web-site [4].

Air Mauritius is the national carrier. By Fluglotse2000.
Air Mauritius is the national carrier. By Fluglotse2000.

The Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (MRU), +230 603 6000 (, fax: +230 637 5306), [5]. at Plaisance is the major gateway for travelers coming from abroad.   edit

  • Air Mauritius [6] is the home carrier and operates a network of routes to the local islands and to international destinations in Africa, Australia, Europe and Asia.
  • Regional airlines Air Austral [7], Air Madgascar and Air Seychelles [8] connect Mauritius with the surrounding islands.
  • International airlines such as Air Europe, Air France [9], Emirates[10], Virgin Airlines, Air Zimbabwe, Austrian Airlines [11], British Airways [12], Condor, South African Airways and Air India [13] all serve Mauritius from their home bases.

Visitors are required to provide accommodation details to the immigration service on arrival. If you arrive in Mauritius from a country where malaria is endemic, you may receive a visit from the government health service and be required to give a blood sample for malaria screening. Some airlines may refuse boarding if the passenger's passport has 6 months, or less, validity remaining from the return date, leading to monetary loss for the passenger.

By sea

The common way to enter Mauritius is usually by plane, and even though there are vessels that arrive at the port they are mainly cargo ships. The Mauritius Pride and the Trochetia are the Mauritian vessels that usually sails to Reunion Island, Rodrigues Island and Madagascar. Costa Cruises ships have recently started an Indian Ocean cruise including a visit to Mauritius.

As of April 2008, one way passage prices to travel from Tamatave in Madagascar to Mauritius by boat are €275 first class or €255 second class, compared to €212 to fly from Antananarivo in Madagascar to Mauritius on Air Madagascar. The journey will take at least four days, possibly more if transiting through Reunion. A boat leaves every other Wednesday.

The prices quoted are for a passage in a first or second class cabin. In attempting to go directly to the port in Tamatave to negotiate with a boat captain for a non-cabin berth, tourists are turned away at the gate. Visiting the Nautical Club in Tamatave to enquire about yachts that might be heading to Mauritius also yields no results.

Get around

Bus and taxi services are best used in urban areas. Bicycles and motorbikes are also available for hire.

By plane

Air Mauritius [14] operates daily flights connecting Plaisance Airport and Rodrigues (flight time - 1 hour 15 minutes).

By helicopter

Helicopters are available for transfers and sightseeing tours

By car

One major highway runs north to south, otherwise a good network of paved, if sometimes narrow, roads cover the island. Traffic drives on the left.

Numerous car hire firms include major international and independent firms. Prices vary widely starting from 800 rupees per day. To be on the safe side, with full insurance, visitors should rent cars from companies holding a tourism enterprise license. These cars are noticeable from their car number plates. Cars duly registered have yellow registration plates. Wheras private cars ( unsuitable for rent ) have black plates.

Regulations: Drivers are required to be over 18 years old. Speed limits are 110kph (68mph) on the motorway and 50kph (31mph) in built-up areas. Seatbelts are compulsory. A foreign licence is accepted.

The following chart gives approximate travel times (in hours and minutes) from Port Louis to other major cities/towns/resorts in Mauritius.

Curepipe           0:20
Grand Baie, North   0:30
Mahebourg, Southeast    0:45
Flic-en-Flac, West  0:30

By bus

Fairly good and numerous bus services ply the island. Taking the bus is the most economical way of travelling. Air-conditioned buses have been recently introduced on some routes.

The major bus companies are:

  • National Transport Corporation (NTC), +230 426 2938.  edit
  • United Bus Service (UBS), +230 212 2026.  edit
  • Mauritius Bus Transport (MTB), long mountain (mr dhiraj dosieah), +230 245 2539.  edit
  • Triolet Bus Service (TBS), +230 2616725.  edit
  • Others. Other smaller companies bear amusing names e.g. Apollo, Turbo etc.  edit

Buses are still manned by a driver and a conductor (who walks around collecting fares and issuing tickets after passengers have boarded). Tell the conductor where you want to go and he'll tell you the fare amount. Upon payment, he'll give you a ticket with the charged amount printed on.

Most conductors are very helpful in providing directions to tourists. In the local creole dialect, the conductors are called con-tro-lair (literally controller).

Try to pay with the small denominations or the conductor may not have enough change. Over-charging tourists (unless accidental) is seldom heard.

By metered taxi

These are regulated and metered (though meters are almost never used) and linked to provinces or hotels, printed on a yellow panel on the drivers' door. Tips are not customary for taxi drivers, but appreciated.

Do NOT patronize unlicensed taxis. They promise a cheaper ride but, lately, there has been a surge in cases of robbers using this trick to lure and attack their victims. See safety section below.

  • Coraline, +230 210 5944 (+230 210 6120), [15]. Sails once a week to Rodrigues Island and to Reunion island from Port Louis Harbour. Mauritius Pride, launched in 1991, and Mauritius Trochetia, in service since 2001, are the two ships operating for the island. The ships also have Madagascar as a destination. Both vessels are used as passenger and container ships.  edit

By tour

Several tour companies operate in Mauritius. Each is unique in services offered but most operate with safety in mind.

Talk

The official language in Mauritius is English. As such, all government administrative documents will be drawn up in English. However, French is the language most commonly used in formal settings, and is by far the dominant language in the mass media, as well as in corporate and business dealings. In fact, even English language television programmes are usually dubbed into French. French is also the main language of instruction used in the education system.

The most commonly spoken language is Mauritian Creole, a French based creole which has incorporated some words from diverse sources including but not limited to English, Dutch and Portuguese, and has slight pronunciation differences from standard French. While there is no official written standard for Mauritian Creole, when written down for informal communication, words are often spelt differently from standard French. The next most commonly spoken language is French, which is spoken fluently by most locals, with English being a not too distant third. Virtually everyone working in the tourism industry will be able to speak fairly decent, albeit heavily accented English, and all government departments will have English-speaking staff on duty. Other languages spoken by much smaller numbers include: Hindi, Urdu, Hakka, Bhojpuri and Mandarin. Tamilians constitues around 10% of population and they speak Tamil.

Coin de Mire. Photo: Zubeyr Kureemun
Coin de Mire. Photo: Zubeyr Kureemun
Grand Bay from offshore
Grand Bay from offshore

Grand Bay was the first area of the island to fully experience the tourist boom. A shopping and leisure paradise, Grand Bay also happens to be the area where Mauritians head for when they want a fun-filled night out (restaurants, bars and discos). Recently renovated, La Cuvette beach is well worth a visit.

  • Pereybere The wonderful Pereybere public beach is popular because of its shopping facilities, restaurants and pubs.
  • Balaclava Ruins A few metres away from Baie aux Tortues, which 17th century sailors named after the many tortoises in the area, can be found the ruins of the old Balaclava estate. Visitors will be able to see the sea walls, whose initial foundations were laid down by Mahé de Labourdonnais. The location of the ruins now forms part of Maritim Hotel, and public access may not be possible.
  • The Triolet Shivala The longest village on the island, Triolet offers an opportunity to visit the biggest Hindu temple, the Maheswarnath, first built in 1819 in honour of the Gods Shiva, Krishna, Vishnu, Muruga, Brahma and Ganesha.
  • The Labourdonnais Orchards Discover a large variety of tropical fruit trees, colourful and perfumed exotic flowers. Trips on mountain bikes or hiking are possible.
  • The Caudan Waterfront The Caudan Waterfront and it's surroundings has a great collection of local souvenir shops and other foreign brand materials such as clothes, spirits . . . In addition to the harbor of Mauritius, you will also find the movie theater, game arcades, local restaurants. . . .
  • The "Bazard" of Port-Louis Literally translated to "The market of Louis Harbor", here you will find a collection of various local snack and tropical fruits, they are the cheapest food you will find in the capital city. Numerous shop sell crafted objects such as the "goni" basket. Unfortunately you will find a lot of stalls selling pirate versions of programs, movies and games, they are extremely cheap but still are illegal and do not ensure quality. Like all crowded areas be weary of your surrounding and keep your belongings close to you.(Food sold on the street may have health issues assigned to them, but those are for most part are rare. If you have any allergies though, refrain from eating at those stalls, but isn't trying everything the island has to offer already worth the ticket.
  • Restaurants Don't hesitate to go to the various local restaurants around the city, although many of them announce themselves to a specific racial background, like everywhere around the world they have their own mix of traditional and local. You might discover that 'fried rice' can have more than one flavor.
  • The SSR Botanical Garden You want to see some plants originated from Mauritius, then this is the place for you. Note: The SSR botanical garden is the oldest botanical garden in the Southern Hemisphere. The garden was first constructed by Pierre Poivre (1719 – 1786) in 1770, and covers an area of around 37 hectares.
  • Flacq Market Flacq is one of the most important villages in Mauritius. This meeting point for inhabitants of the East boasts the country’s largest open air market. The extremely colourful market attracts a large number of people.
  • The Waterpark Leisure Village Enjoy unforgettable moments sliding on the giant chutes, with family or friends. Relaxation and pleasure guaranteed.
  • Ile aux Cerfs Ile aux Cerfs is a paradise for water sports and has one of the most beautiful beaches in Mauritius. You cannot afford to miss this tiny island, delicately poised on the ocean, a real pearl in the Mauritian landscape. Price conscious visitors would be well advised to take ample food and drink, as the only bar and restaurant on the island targets primarily well-heeled tourists.
  • Beaches The eastern part of the island is known for it's long sand bank beaches and it's famous hotel such as "The Coco Beach Hotel" and the famed 5-star hotel "Le Touessrok".
  • Dutch Ruins At Vieux Grand Port, the oldest settlements in Mauritius, you can see the ruins of the first Dutch fortifications. Excavation work is underway in a bid to uncover an important part of Mauritian history.
  • Ile aux Aigrettes Owing to the remarkable work accomplished by the Mauritius Wildlife Fund, the island has become an international standard for the protection of natural resources and endangered species. A few of the world’s rarest birds, including the kestrel, can be seen there. You can also discover the extremely rare Pink Pigeon, the Green Gecko Phelsuma and the Aldabra giant tortoise.
  • Mahebourg Mahébourg is one of the main fishing villages on the island. Built on the magnificent Grand Port Bay it was founded in 1804 by the French Governor Charles Decaën. The Monday markets are one of the biggest and best on the island and can be found right next to the main bus station.
  • Domaine du Chasseur, Tel: (230) 634-5011, Fax: (230) 634-5261. Nestling in the Anse Jonchée hills, the Domaine des Grand Bois has splendid hunting grounds covering an area of 900 hectares. Stags, monkeys and boars live amidst the luxuriant vegetation of the hillside. One can watch a few species of endangered birds, including the kestrel. The Domaine contains four thatched-roof bungalows and a restaurant with a panoramic sea view. Take an opportunity to enjoy a meal of venison. (The view is great and well worth the visit, but the food can best be described as average. The venison is very chewy.) **WARNING. There is a steep hike up the hill from the car park to the restaurant. The restaurant offers a 4wd taxi service which is free if you eat one of their overpriced meals, but if you only want a cup of tea or desert they will slug you an outrageous 230 roupee per person, for the 5 minute ride.**
  • Souillac A small seaside resort along the rugged coast of the Savanne district. A famous feature is the garden overlooking the sea and named after Dr. Charles Telfair. A popular viewpoint is found at the southern end of the village, right on the cliff top : Gris Gris.
  • Blue Bay Bluest water and most amazing white sand beaches you will ever see... Take the trip across the island from Port Louis and see what this quiet place has to offer. Very busy with the locals on weekends. Try to go during the week. Glass bottom boats are an excellent outing. Part of Blue Bay has been designated a Marine Park, and the snorkeling trips by boat to this area, offered for sale on the main public beach, are well worth trying.
  • Martello Towers The Martello Towers, found at La Preneuse, Black River, represent the scene of the ancient rivalry between old colonial powers and the ingenuity of mankind. They are a milestone in the island’s history; they symbolise the end of slavery and the beginning of Indian immigration.
  • Chamarel A winding road leads from Case Noyale village to the coloured earths of Chamarel: an undulating landscape of different and contrasting shades of colours. The different shades of blue, green, red and yellow are apparently the result of the erosion of the volcanic ash. The neighbouring waterfalls of Chamarel rise from the moors and the native plant life. The site possesses a rare beauty. An adventure park has also recently been opened at Chamarel. Much of the sand has been souvenired by locals. It is now sectioned off, but is not that impressive.
  • Salt Pans Owing to the exceptional high level of sunshine the district receives, Tamarin is naturally the heart of salt production in Mauritius.
  • Casela, Tel: (230) 452-0693/4 Situated in the Rivière Noire district, the bird park stretches over 25 hectares and contains more than 140 bird species from all five continents. Other attractions include fish ponds, tigers, tortoises, monkeys, deer and orchids. Also contains a nice playground. Well worth the trip for those with kids.
  • Yemen Yemen Reserve may not be the largest game reserve on the island, but there is still lots to see. You will be able to get close to the herds of deer, as well as admire some splendid species of Mauritian fauna. A few rustic kiosks available in the reserve provide an unobstructed view of the sea. There you can sip a local punch while watching the sun going down.
  • Black River Gorges This national park of 6,574 hectares (16,244 acres) was created in 1994 for the protection of Mauritius’ remaining native forests. Visitors can enjoy magnificent landscapes, with endemic plants and rare bird species. A trail leads from the Pétrin information centre to an area of typical plant life and to a conservation area.
  • Eureka, Tel: (204) 326-4775, Fax: (204) 326-9732. Is an old Creole residence built in 1830, Eureka is an essential place to visit during your stay in Mauritius if you wish to immerse yourself in tropical sweetness. Includes a tour of the colonial house with the opportunity to purchase overpriced textile products, and a tour of the gardens and a visit to the waterfalls below.
Grand Bassin
Grand Bassin
  • Ganga Talao - Grand Bassin Beyond La Marie and Mare-aux-Vacoas is found one of the two natural lakes of Mauritius. It rests within the crater of an extinct volcano. Ganga Talao is an important pilgrimage site and many Mauritians of the Hindu faith walk there during the Maha Shivaratri festival or the night fasting dedicated to Shiva. Gigantic eels live in the lake and are fed by the pilgrims. A walk to the top of the mount beside the lake is recommended for beautiful views over the area known as "Plaine Champagne".
  • L’Aventure du Sucre, Tel: 243 06 60. Daily 9AM-6PM. Visit an interactive and ultra modern exhibition situated at the heart of an ancient sugarmill and discover the fascinating history of Mauritius and its sugarcane adventure exposed over 5000 sq meters! Then, let yourself be tempted by their boutique with its unique gifts, souvenirs and tasting of special unrefined sugars as well as local rum. Do not miss the opportunity to relish authentic Mauritian cuisine with refined flavours at their restaurant "Le Fangourin". Free access to the restaurant and the Village Boutique Beau Plan-Pamplemousses.
Glass bottomed boat in Grand Bay
Glass bottomed boat in Grand Bay
  • Views For a spectacular 360-degree view of Port Louis and the north, climb Le Pouce or ‘the thumb', at 812m (2,664ft). It is an easy 2-hour climb from the village of Petit Verger (near St. Pierre), and takes another 2 hours to walk into Port Louis.
  • Tour the Moka mountains by quad bike, horse or 4-wheel drive at the accessible 1,500-hectare (3,700-acre) nature park of Domaine Les Pailles. Travel to the sugar mill and rum distillery by train or horse-drawn carriage before dining in one of four restaurants.
  • Deep sea fishing (also known as Big game Fishing) surrounded by the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is ideally positioned to access the many exciting species of fish that frequent the warm, tropical waters. Depending on the time of year it is possible to catch Blue or Black Marlin , Sailfish , Wahoo , Yellow fin Tuna , Giant Trevally , Dogtooth Tuna , Bonito , Dolphinfish, Sharks and many more. The majority of the Big game fishing boats are well equipped with VHF radio, mobile telephone, G.P.S navigation system, radar, radio telephone, safety equipments, Penn International reels, life jackets, medical kits, fire extinguishers, flares, and all related fishing equipments such as fighting chairs and rods (usually 9). You can choose between half day trips and full day fishing trips . Big game fishing is best on the west coast of Mauritius because the currents swirl around the foot of Le Morne, creating a marine environment attractive to bait fish, which in turn attracts the larger fish. Boats usually accommodate up to 5 anglers and full day trips typically include both breakfast and lunch in the price.
  • Head to Grand Baie, for watersports such as parasailing, an underwater walk, submarine and semi-submersible scooters, or to La Cuvette, a long silky beach with clear water between Grand Baie and Cap Malheureux, for sailing, windsurfing and waterskiing.
  • Full day sightseeing tours Go on one of the full day sightseeing tours and discover the beautiful and the many sights of Mauritius. Choose between a selection of tours to see the different parts of Mauritius: Mauritius North Tour, Mauritius South & Southwest Tour, Mauritius South West Tour, Mauritius South-Chamouny Tour, Mauritius South-East Tour and Mauritius Complete Tea Route tour
  • Safari Jeep Trips The Safari Jeep trip takes place in Yemen natural reserve park. The park is on the West Coast of Mauritius. It hosts two of the longest rivers on the island – Rivière Rempart and Tamarin River – and is a haven for all sorts of native wildlife. The actual size of this natural reserve is of around 4500 hectares. The Yemen Park is the perfect setting for Safari trips were you will have a thrilling ride and will be able to see many beautiful animals such as Zebras, ostriches, African antelopes, Java deers, monkeys, ducks and geese in their naturals habitat, and will get to see extraordinary panoramic views of this breathtaking part of the island.
  • Safari Quad biking Trips Experience an adventurous Quad biking activity in the most amazing natural setting! quad-biking activity in the 4,500 hectares of Yemen natural reserve park. More than a quad bike outing, it is a trip through a real safari. During the trip it is possible to see deers, zebras, ostriches, African antelopes, wild boars and many more; this a very big added bonus to this activity
  • Swim at the northern beaches such as Trou aux Biches, shaded by casuarinas, Mont Choisy, a 2km (1.2-mile) narrow white stretch of sand curving north from there, and Péreybère, a little cove between Grand Baie and Cap Malheureux.
  • Diving When you dive in Mauritius you explore coral reefs, multi-colored marine life, ship wrecks dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as some ships sunk more recently which create beautiful artificial reefs. There are numerous dive sites strewn all over the island. One of the most well-known and popular dive sites in Mauritius is the Cathedral, which is located off the Flic en Flac on the western coast of Mauritius. Other dive sites in Mauritius include the Whale Rock and Roche Zozo that is an underwater rock pinnacle and the submerged crater near Ile Ronde.You can go on a dive safari or diving trip to any of these dives sites and many more . Mauritius, almost completely encircled by a barrier coral reef, is home to many sponges, sea anemones and a variety of multi-colored fish such as the Damselfis, Trumpet, Boxfish not forgetting the playful clown, as well as Mauritian scorpion with its unique orange color. Most of the Dive sites are located on the west coast around Flic-en-Flac or in the north, at Trou aux Biches or at the Northern Islands. The best time to go diving is from November to April with very good visibility underwater. The Mauritius Scuba Diving Association (MSDA) can provide further information.
  • Watch dolphins up-close in their natural habitat off the western coast (Tamarin) of the island.
  • Speedboat from Trou d'eau Douce to the popular island playground of Ile aux Cerfs for beaches, golf and watersports. Or, for a quieter day, a catamaran to the Northern Islands - Gabriel Island, Flat Island and Gunner's Quoin.
Trail in the Black River Gorges National Park
Trail in the Black River Gorges National Park
  • Hiking and Trekking Hiking and Trekking in Mauritius with its breathtaking views of mountains, rivers, forests and more in a hiking trip through the fields, trekking on a zip line or on a bike, and discover this magnificent nature paradise Mauritius being a volcanic island has several breathtaking summits and valleys to explore on foot. The island is well known for its natural beauty. In addition to the traditional trekking activity you can also go on a unique adventure activity of trekking with the zip lines It is recommended to visit the Black River Gorges National Park, a 6,794-hectare (16,788-acre) forest, to see indigenous plants, birds and wildlife. Black River Peak trail goes to Mauritius' highest mountain, while the Maccabee Trail starts nearby and plunges into the gorge to Black River.
  • Mauritius Tandem Skydiving – Experience skydiving in Mauritius. A 10,000ft skydive in Mauritius paradise island. Enjoy Mauritius' most spectacular scenic flight and the most visually awesome Tandem Skydive. Tandem skydiving refers to a type of skydiving where a student skydiver is connected via a harness to a tandem instructor. The instructor guides the student through the whole jump from exit through freefall, piloting the canopy, and landing. The student needs only minimal instruction before making a tandem jump.
  • Horse racing - The Mauritius horse racing club commonly called the Champ de Mars was founded in 1812, making it the oldest horse-racing club in the Southern Hemisphere. Horse racing is the most popular sport in Mauritius, and you can expect to have about 30,000 visitors in each race day. The horse racing season usually starts in April and ends normally in late November. With an average of 9 horses per race, some goes to a maximum of 12 horses. On average some 60 horses participate on each racing day. It is highly recommended to go and experience the electric atmosphere of horse racing in Mauritius. For those interested it is also possible have a VIP treatment in each of the VIP suites while enjoying snacks and drinks and a clear view of the race from your private balcony
  • Lunch For an adventurous lunch of roasted wild boar, duck or deer curry with one of the best island views, try Domaine du Chasseur's alfresco Panoramour Restaurant. This domain is the best place to glimpse the Mauritius kestrel in the wild. ** WARNING. There is a steep hike up the hill from the car park to the restaurant. The restaurant offers a 4wd taxi service which is free if you eat one of their overpriced meals, but if you only want a cup of tea or desert they will slug you an outrageous 230 roupee per person, for the 5 minute ride. **
Tortoises at the 'Crocodile Park'
Tortoises at the 'Crocodile Park'
  • Parasailing For those looking for a fun sea-air activity, you should definitely try parasailing. You will be rewarded with a breathtaking bird's eye view of the beautiful lagoon and beaches. This is the ultimate way to enjoy your holiday. The parasailing begins with a short safety briefing. Then you will be taken by boat to the launch pod where you will take off and start the parasailing. No steering is actually necessary as the sail follows the course of the boat
  • Water Ski Water-skiing is one of the most popular water sports in Mauritius. You can enjoy water skiing along several of Mauritius’ coasts and also in few of the country’s lakes. The best area for water skiing is considered to be the north area of the island, along the coasts, where the lagoon provides full protection from the big waves of the open sea and offers ideal water skiing conditions of very calm sea
  • La Vanille Réserve des Mascareignes The park which is home to various species of animals, reptiles and plants is set in a beautiful rain forested valley with natural freshwater springs, full of prawns and fish. It is commonly referred to as ‘The Crocodile Park', for its thousands of Nile crocodiles. It is the only place worldwide to breed aldabra tortoises. There is also a mini zoo of Mauritian fauna where you can find most of the Mauritian mammals and reptiles including skinks, phelsumas (geckos), tortoises, turtles, bats, deers, mongooses, monkeys, pigs, as well as domestic livestock such as goats, fat-tailed sheep and donkeys. At the park shop, you'll find crocodile belts and other crocodile goods.
  • Swimming with Dolphins - Go on a speed boat trip and swim with Dolphins in the open sea. You can choose between 2 hours trip, half day and full day trips where you will get to swim with the Bottlenose Dolphin and the Spinner Dolphin, which have made of the West Coast of Mauritius a place for them to rest before going to the deep sea for their fishing.
  • Walk with Lions & Cheetahs Experience a one-on-one encounter with Lions and Cheetahs! Feel the adrenaline rush, the sense of excitement and know how it is to be so close to these amazing creatures. From the moment you meet the lions, your adventure shall begin. Under the coolness of the trees you can take pleasure in viewing the lions from very close, see them playing and hopping on the rocks of the river banks and scaling the trees. The lions roam freely amongst the participants giving them the unique opportunity of being in close contact with them.
  • Rodrigues Island Tiny, rugged, volcanic it lies 550km (340 miles) northeast of Mauritius and is known as the ‘anti-stress' island. The capital, Port Mathurin, is only seven streets wide, with a Creole population. Rodrigues offers walking, diving, kitesurfing and deep sea fishing.
  • Tamarind Waterfalls The Tamarind Falls (also known as Tamarin Falls) are a beautiful attraction of the southwest of Mauritius. These falls are awkward to reach, but no doubt, it's worth the effort. Tamarind Falls on the Interior portion of the island is an incredible string of about 7 waterfalls surrounds by green mountains and is tucked away beyond a sugar cane filled. Bring something to swim in as the are numerous pools beneath certain falls to take a dip in. There are some spots that require getting a little dirty and some traction on your shoes, but it is well worth it. First time visitors would be advised not to go unguided. No doubt this is one of the most beautiful and calmest places in Mauritius, and one of the best places for nature and animals lovers, and for finding exotic plants and birds.
  • Blue Safari Submarine see the wonderful underwater tropical fish without even getting your feet wet. Going underwater to 35 meters depth on board of a real submarine. You will get to visit a shipwreck, explore the rich coral reefs, and observe and encounter various species of fish. The submarine is air-conditioned with fully transparent-glassed cabin so you will enjoy exceptionally clear panoramic views of the extraordinary underwater world. At 35 meters undersea, you may see some rare species and will explore the underwater world just like on any other traditional safari
  • Underwater Submarine Scooter Adventure Pilot your own underwater scooter by yourself or as a couple to 3-4 meters depth in full safety. Comfortably seated one behind the other, you breath freely and naturally in a broad common, transparent and panoramic cupola which allow you to discover and to enjoy full the view of the reef and marine life, while communicating all along with your partner. You will receive full briefing about the easy control of the underwater scooter, and will be equipped with a diving suit for warmth and full safety
  • Sea Kayaking is a great way to explore the fine greenery of the lagoons, or the open waters of the Indian Ocean. It is possible to find wide range of sea kayaking trips and packages from breezy, calmer routes, to a few days trip surrounding the island in the deep ocean waters. This is also possible to have a kayak trip to any of the small islets surrounding the main island such as Ile D'Ambre Island.
  • Shop Mauritius is not at all like Bali or Thailand. Don't expect the local merchants to be interested in a long bartering game. Many shops will not come down on price at all and even at the markets don't expect more than a 10 -20% discount. There are bargains to be had however. Many large brand names in the textile world are manufactured in Mauritius and you can often find over runs or slightly flawed items at a fraction of the European prices. It is also a good place to find unique designed jewelery, wide range of hand crafts such as: artificial flowers, model boats, wooden art and more. It is possible to reach the main shopping centers by public transportation, or to take a full day shopping tour which includes a driver to take you to the main centers and handcrafts workshops.
  • Rock climbing – Rock climbing on the South West coast of Mauritius. You will get to experience rock climbing in a beautiful setting Of the Belle Vue Cliffs, where the caves of "La Pointe aux Caves" are nestled and in close proximity from the famous lighthouse of Albion. This a great outdoor sport where you will learn the basic techniques of knots, safe climbing and rock progression from Mauritius’ top professional guides. As part of rock climbing excursion you will be trained on some breathing exercises to maximize climbing performance over rock faces and cliffs
  • Canyoning – For those seeking more adrenalin and thrill, canyoning is your ideal excursion, which challenges you to abseil down the steep walls of the canyons using nature watercourses and canyoning gear. The canyoning is offered in few locations in Mauritius. The Canyoning (known also as canyoneering) in Mauritius consists of traveling in canyons using a variety of techniques that may include walking, climbing, jumping, abseiling, and/or swimming

Eat

When leaving Mauritius, don't wait until you go through passport control if you want to have a snack. The coffee shop after passport control is not value for money. You would be better off visiting the snack bar before check-in and taking your purchases through with you.

Mauritius is a paradise for the senses, not only for the eyes with its beautiful landscape, but also for the palate. Gastronomes will find a variety of flavours and aromas inherited from the different migrations through its history. Culinary traditions from France, India, China and Africa, the best-known and appreciated cuisines in the world, have been passed on through generations.

Depending on the region, rice or a variety of flat bread called chapattis or roti, called farata (paratha) by the local people, is eaten with curries. The extensive use of spices like saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves and herbs like thyme, basil, and curry leaves are the common ingredients that provide some powerful, yet subtle, savour. Dal, a variety of lentil soup, are many and varied according to which type of lentil is used; vegetables, beans, and pickles accompany the dishes. Dholl puri and roti, originally an Indian delicacy have become the fish and chips of Mauritians.

Biryani from Mughal origins is a dish expertly prepared by the Muslim community, with meat mixed with spiced rice and potatoes.

You can buy many snacks on the streets of Mauritius including the famous gateaux piments (a variant of the indian vadai ; literally, chilli cakes), and vegetable or meat samosas (puffs), along with octopus curry in bread. The tomato and onion based dish called Rougaille (pronounced rooh-guy) is a variation of the French ragoût . The dish usually consists of meat or seafood (corned beef and salted snoek fish rougaille are very popular with the locals) and all Mauritians eat this dish often if not daily.

Mauritians have a sweet tooth and make many types of 'gateaux', as they are called. The cakes vary and you can find cakes very much like at home and others similar to Indian sweets like Gulab Jamun and Rasgulla among many others.

Check out the queues where the street sellers are selling their type of snacks and the longest queue will probably have the tastiest food on sale and is very cheap.

Drink

Mauritius produces a wide range of cane rum. It is very cheap and is a nice drink when mixed with cola and ice. Don't forget the coconut water with a dash of lime and a splash of local rum over ice. The serious amateur will try to find a bottle of five years old (or older) rum. Worth the price difference!

If you are staying in a hotel where the drinks are wildly expensive consider collecting your tipples while you are out and about from the local village shops or supermarkets where the prices are much cheaper.

The local beer Phoenix is considered to be one of the best in the world and costs around 30 rupees (less than one pound sterling) for a pint. Usually served very cold.

The local Black Eagle beer, brewed in Nouvelle France is one to watch out for as well. Definite refreshment to match the sweltering summer heat.

Try visiting the Medine Estate Refinery shop at Bambous (4km from Flic en Flac), on the west of the Island, for a wide variety of locally produced rums and liquors.

  • Le Canonnier, [19]. Set on a private peninsula.  edit
  • Les Chalets en Champagne, 110 route Plaine Champagne, Chamarel (above Chamarel, at the border of the Black River Gorges National Park), +230 483 6610 / 483 5710 (, fax: +230 483 5410), [20]. Some comfortable and beautiful mountain chalets in a very quiet garden, just on the border of the national park and under the Piton de la Rivière Noire. The perfect place to explore the jungle of the park. Splendid view on the valleys, the Morne and the sea. Good restaurant nearby (Varangue sur Morne). Warm welcome. Half-board for 2 guests €115.  edit
  • Dinarobin, [21]. An elegant 5-star beach resort with spa  edit
  • Labourdonnais, Waterfront, Port Louis 5* excellent hotel convenient for Port Louis and many restaurants around the area. Popular with businessmen. Excellent Guest Relations, business centre. Has trade delegations.
  • La Maison d'Eté (small beach hotel), Coastal Road, Poste Lafayette, +230 410 5039 (, fax: + 230 410 5354), [23]. A good alternative to the big hotels. A few rooms. Private beach along the lagoon, from where you can swim and snorkel to view the corral fishes. Good restaurant. Warm welcome by the owners. Room for 2 persons €110.  edit
  • Le Meridien Ile Maurice, [25]. Beachfront on the bay of Pointe aux Piments.  edit
  • Le Paradis, [26]. 5-star golf resort  edit
  • The Residence (The Residence Hotel Mauritius), [27]. 5* Hotel in the style of a plantation house; popular with honeymooners. Inspired by turn-of-the-century colonial mansions, The Residence (Mauritius) rekindles the grand tradition of those palaces of yesteryear.  edit
  • Le Touessrok, [28]. Luxury hotel that is a member of 'the leading hotels of the world'  edit
  • Royal Palm, [30]. A Member of the Leading Hotels of the World  edit
  • Shandrani, [31]. Resort for action-packed holidays, for families, couples, and nature-lovers.  edit
  • Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, [32]. Beautifully designed right on Tamarin Bay.  edit
  • Trou Aux Biches, [33]. Ideal for weddings and honeymoons  edit
  • Le Victoria, [35]. Family holiday resort.  edit
  • Villas Oasis, Grand Bay, +2307270022, [36]. Charming luxurious self catering villa with private pool, kiosk and garden and 24hours security at only 2 mins from the beach  edit
  • Tyvabro Guesthouse, 10 Rue La Marianne, Mahebourg, (230) 631 9674 - hassenjaunbocus@yahoo.com, [37]. Tyvabro Guesthouse is perfect if you are looking for cheaper accommodation with a friendly atmosphere. The guesthouse is operated by a family and has around 6 rooms of assorted configurations (double, twin etc). Each room is extremely comfortable including airconditioning and full linen. The price also includes a full breakfast which is fantastic. Only a 2 minute walk from the Mahebourg bus terminal, this is a great place to base yourself to discover the island of Mauritius. 27 Euro per room per night.  edit
  • One&Only - Le Saint Géran, [38]. 5* hotel opened in 1975 and remodeled in 1999 with balconied room facing the Indian Ocean over a secluded beach. 60-acre resort has a 9-hole Gary Player designed golf course, a One&Only Spa with pool and gym, a French restaurant designed by chef Alain Ducasse called Spoon des Îles, a hotel restaurant with tables over the pool called La Terrasse and an Indian restaurant designed by Vineet Bhatia with tables over the water called Rasoi. Amenities includes a KidsOnly for children from 4 to 11 years old and a Teens Club.  edit
  • Chante au Vent Guesthouse, Coastal Road, Pointe dEsny (5km from Mahebourg), +230 631 961, [39]. Chante au Vent guest house is a charming thatched house on the beach at Pointe d’Esny in the South – Eastern part of the island of Mauritius. Situated only a few steps from the Blue Bay Lagoon and its sandy beaches, Chant au Vent is the perfect location for a beach holiday.  edit

Work

Mauritius is an ideal place to live if you have your own business, especially if you earn your money overseas. The government established a new visa category in 2006 catering to the self-employed.

Investors, Self-employed and professionals are eligible to apply for an Occupation Permit which combines both a Work and Residence Permit. For further information visit the website [41].

There are companies which are specialised in providing advisory services to foreign investors, expatriates, professionals, and self-employed on Work and Residence Permit in Mauritius. For further information, please visit the website [42].

Stay safe

Be alert for your own security in Mauritius. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would anywhere in the world. Be a smart traveler. Before your trip: Organize comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy. Register your travel and contact details, so that you can be contacted in an emergency.

Crime levels in Mauritius are low, though petty crime is on the rise. Most crime against foreign tourists is petty crime, although incidents of assault and rape occur. The rate of crime is higher in downtown Port Louis, and in the coastal tourist centres of Grand Bay, Pereybere, Flic en Flac and Tamarin. Security risks increase after dark especially on beaches, city streets and in other secluded areas. There have been incidents of tourists being assaulted and robbed while staying at beachside bungalows run by unregistered proprietors.

Some safety advice:

  • Avoid remote areas
  • Avoid unexpected offers of (seemingly free) guided tours. Ulterior motives are common.
  • Do not patronize unlicensed taxis (taxi marrons). Some robbers use this trick to lure and attack their victims.

Important telephone numbers

The Tourist Police service (Police du Tourisme), +230 213 2818.   edit

Stay healthy

Mauritius is a risk area for infection with dengue fever (also known as "breakbone fever" from the muscular paroxysms sometimes induced). No vaccine is available. However no cases of dengue fever have been recorded in the country for several years now.

Since 2005 during the high season a certain type of mosquito called the Aedes albopictus causes the viral illness Chikungunya and the insect is more likely to be around in the daytime.

It is important to use anti-mosquito protection at all times. Mosquitoes are more prevalent in rural areas but they can also inhabit the beach in the tourist zone and may lead to swollen joints and/or rashes. Symptoms last from one week up to several months depending how seriously you are affected. Some people recover quickly but it can take several months to recover completely.

It shouldn't put you off visiting Mauritius. Just take good care to cover yourself completely in the best mosquito repellent you can find and re-apply again after swimming. Sleep under a mosquito net. Spray the bedroom well before going to bed with a good repellant and take an electric repellant to plug into the power supply. You can buy plenty of repellants of all types locally in Mauritius quite cheaply including bracelets for kiddies.

Here is a website with comprehensive information on the Chikungunya virus - Health Protection Surveillance Centre’s website: [43]

In 1991, [44], 86% of the population had antibodies indicating that they had been exposed to the hepatitis A virus, following an epidemic of the disease in 1989. Hepatitis A vaccination is generally recommended for travel in East Africa (and most other places) by the CDC [45].

Due to recent efforts [46] transmission of schistosomiasis in Mauritius has been "virtually eliminated", according to the [47].

Many of the beaches are infested with sea urchins. It is a good idea to either buy or bring plastic shoes when venturing into the water. This is generally not a problem at the big hotels.

Reef fish in Mauritius have been found to contain a neurotoxin similar, but not identical, to that found in Caribbean reef fish.

It is important not to eat peanuts or take alcohol if you eat coral or reef fish like sea bass, snapper, mullet, grouper, there are many more. The fish eat the toxic algae that grows on the coral reefs. Don't eat intestines or testes of the fish as higher concentrations of the toxin collect here. The symptoms include gastrointestinal upset, vomiting and diarrhoea and sometimes numb feelings of the arms and legs. More info: [48]

Respect

When tourists go to Mauritius, many look for the typical Mauritian. They will not find them. There is no typical Mauritian, as Mauritians are a sum of different cultures. You have white Mauritians, African Mauritians, Indian Mauritians, Muslim Mauritians, Buddhist Mauritians ... the only thing you should know is that they all have different ways of life, and most of the time do not mix together. Each ethnic group fits a role in the Mauritian community.

The Mauritians all get on well together and respect each others traditions and way of life religions and customs. They are proud of their country and join together on many occasions to celebrate being Mauritian, especially on Independence Day, March 12th, achieved in 1968 when Dr Seewoosagur Ramgoolam (now deceased) was Prime Minister. He is now regarded as the revered father of Mauritius. Presently his son Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam is the Prime Minister.

Each morning the children sing the national anthem in the playground before commencing classes and it is a joy to hear them sing.

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.
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

MAURITIUS, an island and British colony in the Indian Ocean (known whilst a French possession as the Ile de France). It lies between 57° 18' and 57° 49' E., and 19° 58' and 20° 32' S., 55 o m. E. of Madagascar, 2300 m. from the Cape of Good Hope, and 9500 m. from England via Suez. The island is irregularly elliptical - somewhat triangular - in shape, and is 36 m. long from N.N.E. to S.S.W., and about 23 m. broad. It is 130 m. in circumference, and its total area is about 710 sq. m. (For. map see Madagascar.) The island is surrounded by coral reefs, so that the ports are difficult of access.

From its mountainous character Mauritius is a most picturesque island, and its scenery is very varied and beautiful. It has been admirably described by Bernardin de St Pierre, who lived in the island towards the close of the r8th century, in Paul et Virginie. The most level portions of the coast districts are the north and north-east, all the rest being broken by hills, which vary from 500 to 2700 ft. in height. The principal mountain masses are the north-western Or Pouce range, in the district of Port Louis; the south-western, in the districts of Riviere Noire and Savanne; and the south-eastern range, in the Grand Port district. In the first of these, which consists of one principal ridge with several lateral spurs, overlooking Port Louis, are the singular peak of the Pouce (2650 ft.), so called from its supposed resemblance to the human thumb; and the still loftier Pieter Botte (2685 ft.), a tall obelisk of bare rock, crowned with a globular mass of stone. The highest summit in the island is in the south-western mass of hills, the Piton de la Riviere Noire, which is 2711 ft. above the sea. The southeastern group of hills consists of the Montagne du Bambou, with several spurs running down to the sea. In the interior are extensive fertile plains, some 1200 ft. in height, forming the districts of Moka, Vacois, and Plaines Wilhelms; and from nearly the centre of the island an abrupt peak, the Piton du Milieu de File rises to a height of 1932 ft. Other prominent summits are the Trois Mamelles, the Montagne du Corps de Garde, the Signal Mountain, near Port Louis, and the Morne Brabant, at the southwest corner of the island.

The rivers are small, and none is navigable beyond a few hundred yards from the sea. In the dry season little more than brooks, they become raging torrents in the wet season. The principal stream is the Grande Riviere, with a course of about ro m. There is a remarkable and very deep lake, called V. - Ecclesiastical Gallia christiana (3 other vols. were published 1856-1865) Monuments de la monarchic francaise Histoire litteraire de la France (16 other vols. were published 1814-1881) Recueil des historiens de la France (4 other vols. were published 1840 Concilia Galliae (the 1876) printing of vol. ii. was interrupted by the Revolution; there were to have been 8 vols.

Montfaucon

1729 - 1 733 5

Table of contents

B

Histories of the Provinces. Bretagne Paris Languedoc Bourgogne Bretagne Lobineau 1707 Felibien and Lobi neau 1725 Vaissette and de Vic1730-1745Plancher (1-3), Merle 1739-1748, (4) 1781 Morice 1742-1756255 4 5 [[History And Antiquities Of France A]]. - General. Sainte-Marthe (I, 2, 3)1715-178513 Rivet, Clemencet, Clement 1733-1763 12 in 4t° Bouquet (i-8), Brial (12-19)1738-18331 9 Labbat 1789 Grand Bassin, in the south of the island, it is probably the extinct crater of an ancient volcano; similar lakes are the Mare aux Vacois and the Mare aux Joncs, and there are other deep hollows which have a like origin.

Geology

The island is of volcanic origin, but has ceased to show signs of volcanic activity. All the rocks are of basalt and greyishtinted lavas, excepting some beds of upraised coral. Columnar basalt is seen in several places. The remains of ancient craters can be distinguished, but their outlines have been greatly destroyed by denudation. There are many caverns and steep ravines, and from the character of the rocks the ascents are rugged and precipitous. The island has few minerals, although iron, lead and copper in very small quantities have in former times been obtained. The greater part of the surface is composed of a volcanic breccia, with here and there lava-streams exposed in ravines, and sometimes on the surface. The commonest lavas are dolerites. In at least two places sedimentary rocks are found at considerable elevations. In the Black River Mountains, at a height of about 1200 ft., there is a clay-slate; and near Midlands, in the Grand Port group of mountains, a chloritic schist occurs about 1700 ft. above the sea, forming the hill of La Selle. This schist is much contorted, but seems to have a general dip to the south or south-east. Evidence of recent elevation of the island is furnished by masses of coral reef and beach coral rock standing at heights of 40 ft. above sea-level in the south, 12 ft. in the north and 7 ft. on the islands situated on the bank extending to the north-east.1 Climate. - The climate is pleasant during the cool season of the year, but oppressively hot in summer (December to April), except in the elevated plains of the interior, where the thermometer ranges from 70° to 80° F., while in Port Louis and on the coast generally it ranges from 90° to 96°. The mean temperature for the year at Port Louis is 78.6°. There are two seasons, the cool and comparatively dry season, from April to November, and the hotter season, during the rest of the year. The climate is now less healthy than it was, severe epidemics of malarial fever having frequently occurred, so that malaria now appears to be endemic among the non-European population. The rainfall varies greatly in different parts of the island. Cluny in the Grand Port (south-eastern) district has a mean annual rainfall of 145 in.; Albion on the west coast is the driest station, with a mean annual rainfall of 31 in. The mean monthly rainfall for the whole island varies from 12 in. in March to 2.6 in. in September and October. The Royal Alfred Observatory is situated at Pamplemousses, on the north-west or dry side of the island. From January to the middle of April, Mauritius, in common with the neighbouring islands and the surrounding ocean from 8° to 30° of southern latitude is subject to severe cyclones, accompanied by torrents of rain, which often cause great destruction to houses and plantations. These hurricanes generally last about eight hours, but they appear to be less frequent and violent than in former times, owing, it is thought, to the destruction of the ancient forests and the consequent drier condition of the atmosphere.

Fauna and Flora. - Mauritius being an oceanic island of small size, its present fauna is very limited in extent. When first seen by Europeans it contained no mammals except a large fruit-eating bat (Pteropus vulgaris), which is plentiful in the woods; but several mammals have been introduced, and are now numerous in the uncultivated region. Among these are two monkeys of the genera Macacus and Cercopithecus, a stag (Cervus hippelaphus), a small hare, a shrewmouse, and the ubiquitous rat. A lemur and one of the curious hedgehog-like Insectivora of Madagascar (Centetes ecaudatus) have probably both been brought from the larger island. The avifauna resembles that of Madagascar; there are species of a peculiar genus of caterpillar shrikes (Campephagidae), as well as of the genera Pratincola, Hypsipetes, Phedina, Tchitrea, Zosterops, Foudia, Collocalia and Coracopsis, and peculiar forms of doves and parakeets. The living reptiles are small and few in number. The surrounding seas contain great numbers of fish; the coral reefs abound with a great variety of molluscs; and there are numerous land-shells. The extinct fauna of Mauritius has considerable interest. In common with the other Mascarene islands, it was the home of the dodo (Didus ineptus); there were also A phanapteryx, a species of rail, and a shortwinged heron (Ardea megacephala), which probably seldom flew. The defenceless condition of these birds led to their extinction after the island was colonized. Considerable quantities of the bones of the dodo and other extinct birds - a rail (A phanapteryx), and a shortwinged heron - have been discovered in the beds of some of the ancient lakes (see DoDo). Several species of large fossil tortoises have also been discovered; they are quite different from the living ones of Aldabra, in the same zoological region.

Owing to the destruction of the primeval forests for the formation of sugar plantations, the indigenous flora is only seen in parts of the interior plains, in the river valleys and on the hills; and it is not now easy to distinguish between what is native and what has come from abroad. The principal timber tree is the ebony (Diospyros ebeneum), which grows to a considerable size. Besides this there are bois de cannelle, olive-tree, benzoin (Croton Benzoe), colophane (Colophonia), and iron-wood, all of which are useful in carpentry; 1 See Geog. Journ. (June 18 95), p. 597.

the coco-nut palm, an importation, but a tree which has been so extensively planted during the last hundred years that it is extremely plentiful; the palmiste (Palma dactylifera latifolia), the latanier (Corypha umbraculifera) and the date-palm. The vacoa or vacois, (Pandanus utilis) is largely grown, the long tough leaves being manufactured into bags for the export of sugar, and the roots being also made of use; and in the few remnants of the original forests the traveller's tree (Urania speciosa), grows abundantly. A species of bamboo is very plentiful in the river valleys and in marshy situations. A large variety of fruit is produced, including the tamarind, mango, banana, pine-apple, guava, shaddock, fig, avocado-pear, litchi, custard-apple and the mabolo (Diospyros discolor), a fruit of exquisite flavour, but very disagreeable odour. Many of the roots and vegetables of Europe have been introduced, as well as some of those peculiar to the tropics, including maize, millet, yams, manioc, dhol, gram, &c. Small quantities of tea, rice and sago, have been grown, as well as many of the spices (cloves, nutmeg, ginger, pepper and allspice),' and also cotton, indigo, betel, camphor, turmeric and vanilla. The Royal Botanical Gardens at Pamplemousses, which date from the French occupation of the island, contain a rich collection of tropical and extra-tropical species.

Inhabitants

The inhabitants consist of two great divisions, those of European blood, chiefly French and British, together with numerous half-caste people, and those of Asiatic or African blood. The population of European blood, which calls itself Creole, is greater than that of any other tropical colony; many of the inhabitants trace their descent from ancient French families, and the higher and middle classes are distinguished for their intellectual culture. French is more commonly spoken than English. The Creole class is, however, diminishing, though slowly, and the most numerous section of the population is of Indian blood.

1881.

1891.

1901.

Indians

248,993

255,920

259,086

Others

I 10,881

114,668

111,937

Total

359,874

370,588

371,023

The introduction of Indian coolies to work the sugar plantations dates from the period of the emancipation of the slaves in 18 341839. At that time the negroes who showed great unwillingness to work on their late masters' estates, numbered about 66,000. Immigration from India began in 1834, and at a census taken in 1846, when the total population was 158,462, there were already 56,245 Indians in the island. In 1851 the total population had increased to 180,823, while in 1861 it was 310,050. This great increase was almost entirely due to Indian immigration, the Indian population, 77,996 in 1851, being 192,634 in 1861. From that year the increase in the Indian population has been more gradual but steady, while the non-Indian population has decreased. From 102,827 in 1851 it rose to 117,416 in 1861 to sink to 99,784 in 1871. The figures for the three following census years were: Including the military and crews of ships in harbour, the total population in 1901 was 373,336.2 This total included 198,958 Indo-Mauritians, i.e. persons of Indian descent born in Mauritius, and 62,022 other Indians. There were 3,509 Chinese, while the remaining 108,847 included persons of European, African or mixed descent, Malagasy, Malays and Sinhalese. The Indian female population increased from 51,019 in 1861 to 115,986 in 1901. In the same period the non-Indian female population but slightly varied, being 56,070 in 1861 and 55,485 in 1901. The Indo-Mauritians are now dominant in commercial, agricultural and domestic callings, and much town and agricultural land has been transferred from the Creole planters to Indians and Chinese. The tendency to an Indian peasant proprietorship is marked. Since 2864 real property to the value of over £1,250,000 has been acquired by Asiatics. Between 1881 and 1901 the number of sugar estates decreased from 171 to 115, those sold being held in small parcels by Indians. The average death-rate for the period1873-1901was 32.6 per moo. The average birth-rate in the Indian community is 37 per moo; in the non-Indian community 34 per moo. Many Mauritian Creoles have emigrated to South Africa. The great increase in the population since 1851 has made Mauritius one of the most densely peopled regions of the world, having over 520 persons per square mile.

Chief Towns

The capital and seat of government, the city of Port Louis, is on the north-western side of the island, in 20° 10' S., 57° 30' E. at the head of an excellent harbour, a deep inlet about a mile long, available for ships of the deepest draught. This is protected by Fort William and Fort George, as well as by the citadel (Fort Adelaide), and it has three graving-docks connected with the inner harbour, the depths alongside quays and berths being from 12 to 28 ft. The trade of the island passes almost entirely through the port. Government House is a three-storeyed structure with broad The total population of the colony (including dependencies) on the 1st of January 1907 was estimated at 383,206.

verandas, of no particular style of architecture, while the Protestant cathedral was formerly a powder magazine, to which a tower and spire have been added. The Roman Catholic cathedral is more pretentious in style, but is tawdry in its interior. There are, besides the town-hall, Royal College, public offices and theatre, large barracks and military stores. Port Louis, which is governed by an elective municipal council, is surrounded by lofty hills and its unhealthy situation is aggravated by the difficulty of effective drainage owing to the small amount of tide in the harbour. Though much has been done to make the town sanitary, including the provision of a good water-supply, the death-rate is generally over 44 per 1000. Consequently all those who can make their homes in the cooler uplands of the interior. As a result the population of the city decreased from about 70,000 in 1891 to 53,000 in 1901. The favourite residential town is Curepipe, where the climate resembles that of the south of France. It is built on the central plateau about 20 m. distant from Port Louis by rail and 1800 ft. above the sea. Curepipe was incorporated in 1888 and had a population (1901) of 13,000. On the railway between Port Louis and Curepipe are other residential towns - Beau Bassin, Rose Hill and Quatre Bornes. Mahebourg, pop. (1901), 4810, is a town on the shores of Grand Port on the south-east side of the island, Souillac a small town on the south coast.

Industries

The Sugar Plantations: The soil of the island is of considerable fertility; it is a ferruginous red clay, but so largely mingled with stones of all sizes that no plough can be used, and the hoe has to be employed to prepare the ground for cultivation. The greater portion of the plains is now a vast sugar plantation. The bright green of the sugar fields is a striking feature in a view of Mauritius from the sea, and gives a peculiar beauty and freshness to the prospect. The soil is suitable for the cultivation of almost all kinds of tropical produce, and it is to be regretted that the prosperity of the colony depends almost entirely on one article of production, for the consequences are serious when there is a failure, more or less, of the sugar crop. Guano is extensively imported as a manure, and by its use the natural fertility of the soil has been increased to a wonderful extent. Since the beginning of the 10th century some attention has been paid to the cultivation of tea and cotton, with encouraging results. Of the exports, sugar amounts on an average to about 95% of the total. The quantity of sugar exported rose from 102,000 tons in 1854 to 189,164 tons in 1877. The competition of beet-sugar and the effect of bounties granted by various countries then began to tell on the production in Mauritius, the average crop for the seven years ending1900-1901being only 150,449 tons. The Brussels Sugar Convention of 1902 led to an increase in production, the average annual weight of sugar exported for the three years1904-1906being 182,000 tons. The value of the crop was likewise seriously affected by the causes mentioned, and by various diseases which attacked the canes. Thus in 1878 the value of the sugar exported was £3,408,000; in 1888 it had sunk to £1,911,000, and in 1898 to £1,632,000. In 1900 the value was £1,922,000, and in 1905 it had risen to £2,172,000. India and the South African colonies between them take some two-thirds of the total produce. The remainder is taken chiefly by Great Britain, Canada and Hong-Kong. Next to sugar, aloe-fibre is the most important export, the average annual export for the five years ending 1906 being 1840 tons. In addition, a considerable quantity of molasses and smaller quantities of rum, vanilla and coco-nut oil are exported. The imports are mainly rice, wheat, cotton goods, wine, coal, hardware and haberdashery, and guano. The rice comes principally from India and Madagascar; cattle are imported from Madagascar, sheep from South Africa and Australia, and frozen meat from Australia. The average annual value of the exports for the ten years1896-1905was £ 2, 1 53, 1 59; the average annual value of the imports for the same period £1,453,089. These figures when compared with those in years before the beet and bounty-fed sugar had entered into severe competition with cane sugar, show how greatly the island had thereby suffered. In 1864 the exports were valued at £2,249,000; in 1868 at £2,339,000; in 1877 at £4,201,000 and in 1880 at £3,634,000. And in each of the years named the imports exceeded £2,000,000 in value. Nearly all the aloe-fibre exported is taken by Great Britain and France, while the molasses goes to India. Among the minor exports is that of bambara or sea-slugs, which are sent to Hong-Kong and Singapore. This industry is chiefly in Chinese hands. The great majority of the imports are from Great Britain or British possessions.

The currency of Mauritius is rupees and cents of a rupee, the Indian rupee (=16d.) being the standard unit. The metric system of weights and measures has been in force since 1878.

Communications

There is a regular fortnightly steamship service between Marseilles and Port Louis by the Messageries Maritimes, a four-weekly service with Southampton via Cape Town by the Union Castle, and a four-weekly service with Colombo direct by the British India Co.'s boats. There is also frequent communication with Madagascar, Reunion and Natal. The average annual tonnage of ships entering Port Louis is about 750,000 of which five-sevenths is British. Cable communication with Europe, via the Seychelles, Zanzibar and Aden, was established in 1893, and the Mauritius section of the Cape-Australian cable, via Rodriguez, was completed in 1902.

Railways connect all the principal places and sugar estates on the island, that known as the Midland line, 36 miles long, beginning at Port Louis crosses the island to Mahebourg, passing through Curepipe, where it is 1822 ft. above the sea. There are in all over 120 miles of railway, all owned and worked by the government. The first railway was opened in 1864. The roads are well kept and there is an extensive system of tramways for bringing produce from the sugar estates to the railway lines. Traction engines are also largely used. There is a complete telegraphic and telephonic service.

Government and Revenue. - Mauritius is a crown colony. The governor is assisted by an executive council of five official and two elected members, and a legislative council of 27 members, 8 sitting officio, 9 being nominated by the governor and io elected on a moderate franchise. Two of the elected members represent St Louis, the 8 rural districts into which the island is divided electing each one member. At least one-third of the nominated members must be persons not holding any public office. The number of registered electors in 1908 was 6186. The legislative session usually lasts from April to December. Members may speak either in French or English. The average annual revenue of the colony for the ten years 1896-1905, was £ 608,245, the average annual expenditure during the same period £663,606. Up to 1854 there was a surplus in hand, but since that time expenditure has on many occasions exceeded income, and the public debt in 1908 was £1,305,000, mainly incurred however on reproductive works.

The island has largely retained the old French laws, the codes civil, de procedure, du commerce, and d'instruction criminelle being still in force, except so far as altered by colonial ordinances. A supreme court of civil and criminal justice was established in 1831 under a chief judge and three puisne judges.

Religion and Education

The majority of the European inhabitants belong to the Roman Catholic faith. They numbered at the 1901 census 117,102, and the Protestants 6644. Anglicans, Roman Catholics and the Church of Scotland are helped by state grants. At the head of the Anglican community is the bishop of Mauritius; the chief Romanist dignitary is styled bishop of Port Louis. The Mahommedans number over 30,000, but the majority of the Indian coolies are Hindus.

The educational system, as brought into force in 1900, is under a director of public instruction assisted by an advisory committee, and consists of two branches (1) superior or secondary instruction, (2) primary instruction. For primary instruction there are government schools and schools maintained by the Roman Catholics, Protestants and other faiths, to which the government gives grants in aid. In 1908 there were 67 government schools with 8400 scholars and 90 grant schools with 10,200 scholars, besides Hindu schools receiving no grant. The Roman Catholic scholars number 67.72%; the Protestants 3.80%; Mahommedans 8.37%; and Hindus and others 20.11%. Secondary and higher education is given in the Royal College and associated schools at Port Louis and Curepipe. Defence. - Mauritius occupies an important strategic position on the route between South Africa and India and in relation to Madagascar and East Africa, while in Port Louis it possesses one of the finest harbours in the Indian Ocean. A permanent garrison of some 3000 men is maintained in the island at a cost of about £ 180,000 per annum. To the cost of the troops Mauritius contributes 51% of its annual revenue - about £30,000.

History

Mauritius appears to have been unknown to European nations, if not to all other peoples, until the year 1505, when it was discovered by Mascarenhas, a Portuguese navigator. It had then no inhabitants, and there seem to be no traces of a previous occupation by any people. The island was retained for most of the 16th century by its discoverers, but they made no settlements in it. In 1598 the Dutch took possession, and named the island "Mauritius," in honour of their stadtholder, Count Maurice of Nassau. It had been previously called by the Portuguese "Ilha do Cerne," from the belief that it was the island so named by Pliny. But though the Dutch built a fort at Grand Port and introduced a number of slaves and convicts, they made no permanent settlement in Mauritius, finally abandoning the island in 17r0. From 1715 to 1767 (when the French government assumed direct control) the island was held by agents of the French East India Company, by whom its name was again changed to "Ile de France." The Company was fortunate in having several able men as governors of its colony, especially the celebrated Mahe de Labourdonnais (q.v.), who made sugar planting the main industry of the inhabitants.' Under his direction roads were made, forts built, and considerable portions of the forest were cleared, and the present capital, Port Louis, was founded. Labourdonnais also promoted the planting of cotton and indigo, and is remembered as the most enlightened and best of all the French governors. He also put down the maroons or runaway slaves who had long been the pest of the island. The colony continued to rise in value during the time it was held by the French crown, and to one of the intendants,2 Pierre Poivre, was due the introduction of the clove, nutmeg and other spices. Another governor was D'Entrecasteaux, whose name is kept in remembrance by a group of islands east of New Guinea.

During the long war between France and England, at the commencement of the 19th century, Mauritius was a continual source of much mischief to English Indiamen and other merchant vessels; and at length the British government determined upon an expedition for its capture. This was effected in 1810; and upon the restoration of peace in 1814 the possession of the island was confirmed to Britain by the Treaty of Paris. By the eighth article of capitulation it was agreed that the inhabitants should retain their own laws, customs, and religion; and thus the island is still largely French in language, habits, and predilections; but its name has again been changed to that given by the Dutch. One of the most distinguished of the British governors was Sir Robert Farquhar (1810-1823), who did much to abolish the Malagasy slave trade and to establish friendly relations with the rising power of the Hova sovereign of Madagascar. Later governors of note were Sir Henry Barkly (1863-1871), and Sir J. Pope Hennessy (1883-1886 and 1888).

The history of the colony since its acquisition by Great Britain has been one of social and political evolution. At first all power was concentrated in the hands of the governor, but in 1832 a legislative council was constituted on which non-official nominated members served. In1884-1885this council was transformed into a partly elected body. Of more importance than the constitutional changes were the economic results which followed the freeing of the slaves (1834-1839) - for the loss of whose labour the planters received over £2,000,000 compensation. Coolies were introduced to supply the place of the negroes, immigration being definitely sanctioned by the government of India in 1842. Though under government control the system of coolie labour led to many abuses. A royal commission investigated the matter in 1871 and since that time the evils which were attendant on the system have been gradually remedied. One result of the introduction of free labour has been to reduce the descendants of the slave population to a small and unimportant class - Mauritius in this respect offering a striking contrast to the British colonies in the West Indies. The last half of the 19th century was, however, chiefly notable in Mauritius for the number of calamities which overtook the island. In 1854 cholera caused the death of 17,000 persons; in 1867 over 30,000 people died of malarial fever; in 1892 a hurricane of terrific violence caused immense destruction of property and serious loss of life; in 1893 great part of Port Louis was destroyed by fire. There were in addition several epidemics of small-pox and plague, and from about 1880 onward the continual decline in the price of sugar seriously affected the islanders, especially the Creole population. During1902-1905an outbreak of surra, which caused great mortality among draught animals, further tried the sugar planters and necessitated government help. Notwithstanding all these calamities the Mauritians, especially the Indo-Mauritians, have succeeded in maintaining the position of the colony as an important sugarproducing country.

Dependencies

Dependent upon Mauritius and forming part of the colony are a number of small islands scattered over a large Labourdonnais is credited by several writers with the introduction of the sugar cane into the island. Leguat, however, mentions it as being cultivated during the Dutch occupation.

2 The regime introduced in 1767 divided the administration between a governor, primarily charged with military matters, and an intendant.

extent of the Indian Ocean. Of these the chief is Rodriguez (q.v.), 375 m. east of Mauritius. Considerably north-east of Rodriguez lie the Oil Islands or Chagos archipelago, of which the chief is Diego Garcia (see Chagos). The Cargados, Carayos or St Brandon islets, deeps and shoals, lie at the south end of the Nazareth Bank about 250 m. N.N.E. of Mauritius. Until 1903 the Seychelles, Amirantes, Aldabra and other islands lying north of Madagascar were also part of the colony of Mauritius. In the year named they were formed into a separate colony (see Seychelles). Two islands, Farquhar and Coetivy, though geographically within the Seychelles area, remained dependent on Mauritius, being owned by residents in that island. In 1908, however, Coetivy was transferred to the Seychelles administration. Amsterdam and St Paul, uninhabited islands in the South Indian Ocean, included in an official list of the dependencies of Mauritius drawn up in 1880, were in 1893 annexed by France. The total population of the dependencies of Mauritius was estimated in 1905 at 5400.

Authorities.-F. Leguat, Voyages et aventures en deux isles desertes des Indes orientales (Eng. trans., A New Voyage to the East Indies;. London, 1708); Prudham, "England's Colonial Empire," vol. i., The Mauritius and its Dependencies (1846); C. P. Lucas, A Historical Geography of the British Colonies, vol. i. (Oxford, 1888); Ch. Grant, History of Mauritius, or the Isle of France and Neighbouring Islands (1801); J. Milbert, Voyage pittoresque a file-de-France, &c., 4 vols. (1812); Aug. Billiard, Voyage aux colonies orientales (1822); P. Beaton, Creoles and Coolies, or Five Years in Mauritius (1859); Paul Chasteau, Histoire et description de rile Maurice (1860); F. P. Flemyng, Mauritius, or the Isle of France (1862); Ch. J. Boyle, Far Away, or Sketches of Scenery and Society in Mauritius (1867); L. Simonin, Les Pays lointains, notes de voyage (Maurice, &c.) (1867); N. Pike, Sub-Tropical Rambles in the Land of the Aphanapteryx (1873); A. R. Wallace. "The Mascarene Islands," in ch. xi. vol. i. of The Geographical Distribution of Animals (1876); K. M6bius, F. Richter and E. von Martens, Beitrdge zur Meeresfauna der Insel Mauritius and der Seychellen (Berlin, 1880); G. Clark, A Brief Notice of the Fauna of Mauritius (1881); A. d'Epinay, Renseignements pour servir a l'histoire de ale de France jusqu'd r8ro (Mauritius, 1890); N. Decotter, Geography of Mauritius and its Dependencies (Mauritius, 1892); H. de Haga Haig, "The Physical Features and Geology of Mauritius" in vol. li., Q. J. Geol. Soc. (1895); the Annual Reports on Mauritius issued by the Colonial Office, London; The Mauritius Almanack published yearly at Port Louis. A map of the island in six sheets on the scale of one inch to a mile was issued by the War Office in 1905. (J. St.*)


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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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Contents

English

Proper noun

Singular
Mauritius

Plural
-

Mauritius

  1. Country in the Indian Ocean. Official name: Republic of Mauritius.
  2. Given name; e.g., w:St. Mauritius

Translations

See also


Finnish

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Finnish Wikipedia has an article on:
Mauritius

Wikipedia fi

Proper noun

Mauritius

  1. Mauritius

Declension

Derived terms

  • mauritiuslainen

German

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German Wikipedia has an article on:
Mauritius

Wikipedia de

Proper noun

Mauritius n.

  1. Mauritius

Derived terms


Italian

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Italian Wikipedia has an article on:
Mauritius

Wikipedia it

Proper noun

Mauritius m.

  1. Mauritius

Derived terms


Norwegian

Proper noun

Mauritius

  1. Mauritius

See also


Polish

Proper noun

Mauritius m.

  1. Mauritius

Declension

Singular only
Nominative Mauritius
Genitive Mauritiusa
Dative Mauritiusowi
Accusative Mauritius
Instrumental Mauritiusem
Locative Mauritiusie
Vocative Mauritiusie

Derived terms

  • Maurytyjczyk m., Maurytyjka f.
  • adjective: maurytyjski

Swedish

Proper noun

Mauritius

  1. Mauritius







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