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History
The island had for a long time remained unknown and uninhabited. It was probably visited by Arab sailors during the Middle Ages, and on maps of about 1500, it is shown by an Arabic name `Dina Arobi'. The Portuguese sailor Domingo Fernandez Pereira was probably the first European to land on the island at around 1511. The island appears with a Portuguese name `Cirne' on early Portuguese maps, probably because of the presence of the Dodo, a flightless bird which was found in great numbers at that time.

It was another Portuguese sailor, Don Pedro Mascarenhas, who gave the name Mascarenes to the group of islands now known as Mauritius, Rodrigues and Reunion. The Portuguese did not stay long as they were not interested in these islands.
  • 1598-1710
  • 1715-1810
  • 1810-1968
1598-1710
The Dutch period (1598-1710)
In 1598, a Dutch squadron, under the orders of Admiral Wybrand Van Warwyck, landed at Grand Port and named the island "Mauritius", in honour of Prince Maurice Van Nassau, "Stathouder" of Holland.

However, it was not until 1638 that there was a first attempt of Dutch settlement. It was from here that the famous Dutch navigator Tasman set out to discover the western part of Australia. The first Dutch settlement lasted only twenty years. Several attempts were subsequently made, but the settlements never developed enough to produce dividends and the Dutch finally left Mauritius in 1710. They are remembered for the introduction of sugar-cane, domestic animals and deer.
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1715-1810
The French Period (1715-1810)
Abandoned by the Dutch, the island became a French colony when, in September 1715, Guillaume Dufresne D'Arsel landed and took possession of this precious port of call on the route to India. He named the island "Isle de France", but it was only in 1721 that the French started their occupation. However, it was only as from 1735, with the arrival of the most illustrious of French governor, Mahé de La Bourdonnais, that the "Isle de France" started developing effectively.

Mahé de La Bourdonnais established Port Louis as a naval base and a ship-building centre. Under his governorship, numerous buildings were built, a number of which are still standing today - part of Government House, the Chateau de Mon Plaisir at Pamplemousses, the Line Barracks. The island was under the administration of the French East India Company which maintained its presence until 1767.
From that year until 1810, the island was in charge of officials appointed by the French Government, except for a brief period during the French Revolution, when the inhabitants set up a government virtually independent of France.

During the Napoleonic wars, the "Isle de France" had become a base from which French corsairs organised successful raids on British commercial ships. The raids continued until 1810 when a strong British expedition was sent to capture the island. A preliminary attack was foiled at Grand Port in August 1810, but the main attack launched in December of the same year from Rodrigues, which had been captured a year earlier, was successful. The British landed in large numbers in the north of the island and rapidly overpowered the French, who capitulated. By the Treaty of Paris in 1814, the "Isle de France" which regained its former name `Mauritius' was ceded definitely to Great Britain, together with its dependencies which included Rodrigues and the Seychelles. In the act of capitulation, the British guaranteed that they would respect the language, the customs, the laws and the traditions of the inhabitants.
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1810-1968
The British period (1810-1968)
The British administration, which began with Robert Farquhar as governor, was followed by rapid social and economic changes. One of the most important events was the abolition of slavery in 1835. The planters received a compensation of two million pounds sterling for the loss of their slaves which had been imported from Africa and Madagascar during the French occupation.

The abolition of slavery had important repercussions on the socio-economic and demographic fields. The planters turned to India, from where they brought a large number of indentured labourers to work in the sugar cane fields.
The Indian immigrants, who were of both Hindu and Muslim faith, were to change rapidly the fabric of the society. They were later joined by a small number of Chinese traders.

Cultivation of sugar cane was given a boost and the island flourished, especially with the export of sugar to England. Economic progress necessitated the extension and improvement of means of communication and gradually an adequate infrastructure was created.
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The Dodo
Dodos were descendents of a type of pigeon which settled in Mauritius over 4 million years ago. With no predators to attack them, they lost their need and ability to fly. They lived and nested on the ground and ate fruits that had fallen from trees. There were no mammals on the island and a high diversity of bird species lived in the dense forests.

In 1505, the Portuguese became the first humans to set foot on Mauritius. The island quickly became a stopover for ships engaged in the spice trade. Weighing up to 50 pounds, the dodo was a welcome source of fresh meat for the sailors. Large numbers of dodos were killed for food.

Later, when the Dutch used the island as a penal colony, pigs and monkeys were brought to the island along with the convicts. Many of the ships that came to Mauritius also had uninvited rats aboard, some of which escaped onto the island. Before humans and other mammals arrive the dodo had little to fear from predators. The rats, pigs and monkeys ate dodo eggs in the ground nests.

The combination of human exploitation and introduced species significantly reduced the dodo population. Within 100 years of the arrival of humans on Mauritius, the once abundant dodo became a rare bird. The last one was killed in 1681.
Culture
Mauritius has a cosmopolitan culture. Co-existence among Mauritians of Indian, African, European and Chinese ancestry has led to a sharing of cultures and values, a collective participation in festivals and increased understanding between people of different backgrounds. Mauritius is today a unique melting pot of peoples, languages and cultures.
  • Mauritian Cuisine
  • Folklore and Music
  • Festival
Mauritian Cuisine
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. The story of a Mauritian starting the day with a continental breakfast, followed by an indian lunch and finishing off with a chinese dinner is a common cliché.

Mauritius has strong ties with the French culture through its history, which have left a very French style of "savoir vivre". French dishes like the daube, civet de lièvre or coq au vin served with good wine bear the testimony of these traditions. As years passed by, some have been adapted to the more exotic ingredients of the island to confer some unique savour.

During the nineteenth century, after the abolition of slavery, Indian workers who migrated to Mauritius brought with them their exquisite cuisine. Those indentured labourers came from different parts of India, each with their own culinary tradition, depending on the region. The extensive use of spices like saffron, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves are the common ingredients that provide some powerful, yet subtle, savour. There is also extensive use of dals, vegetables, beans, and pickles to accompany the dishes. Dhollpuri and roti, originally an Indian delicacy, have become the fish and chips of the Mauritians. Biryani from Mughal origins is a dish prepared by the Muslim community, with meat mixed with spiced rice and potatoes
The end of the 19th century saw the arrival of Chinese migrants, who came mostly from the south-eastern part of China. They originated mostly from the Cantonese region bearing the best reputation in Chinese cuisine for its variety and sophistication. Chinese dishes appeal to the senses through colour, shape, aroma and taste. This tradition of excellence has been preserved and, as such, has conquered the tables of all the other communities. Even if the Chinese community is one of the smallest, its cuisine is the most present in the restaurants around the island. Fried noodles or rice, chopsuey, spring rolls are eaten by everyone. Other such delicacies as the shark fin or abalone soup can only be found in specialised Chinese restaurants.

Along Over the years, each community has adapted and mixed each other's cuisine to their liking, which has resulted in a Mauritian cuisine. This can be seen in the Creole cuisine which is a blend of different ingredients and savours. The ever-present creole "rougaille" is served with a number of "achards" (pickles) or dals and rice from Indian origin. There have also been some changes during the last twenty years with the arrival of some fast foods: burgers, pizza and chips.

Anyone visiting the island should try a pair of dhollpuri with a large glass of "alouda" or tamarind juice to have a genuine taste of Mauritius.
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Folklore and Music
Mauritius is blessed with the sounds and rhythms of the western, eastern and African civilisation which have come across its history. This legacy has been preserved and passed on unscattered through generations. On the other hand, some have meld together to yield unique sounds and rhythms.

The most typical folkloric dance of Mauritius is the "Sega" of African origin. This dance is pulsated by the beat of the ravane, a circular drum, and other rhythmic instruments like the maravane and triangle. Danced and sung by the slaves, the Sega has been adopted by all Mauritians and is played on all occasions. More recently, a new sound, a mixture of the Sega and Reggae music, has found its way in our musical culture. This fusion music called the Seggae, is a melodious and entertaining new rhythm that reflects the mixed aspect of Mauritius, emerged in the 80's. Originally the music of the Rastafaris and the poor suburbs of Port Louis, it has found its way to the nightclubs and the mainstream of Mauritian local music.
There are also traditional music and dances that have been introduced by the Indian and Chinese migrants coming to Mauritius. Few things compare to the refines and elegance of the Indian dances. Dressed in colourful sarees, the dancers execute precise choreographies with each posture and attitude expressing its own meaning. They are accompanied by the exquisite sound of the sitar and tabla expressing the finest (refined) and magic behind the oriental culture. There are also the very colourful Chinese traditional dance with the ancestral lions and Dragon dances being the best known. The sight of these mystical creatures brought to life by the precision and agility of the dancers is a must to be seen.

Western music is also well represented in the Mauritian culture. This includes the mainstream music amid rap, hip-hop, rock, Jazz band and other more traditional music like the waltz as well as all types of ballroom dancing. There is also a strong following for the 60's to 70's oldies, with the likes of Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, Englelberd Emperding being part of the national musical heritage.
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Festivals
The main festivals and religious events celebrated in Mauritius are Cavadee, Chinese Spring Festival, Christmas, Divali, Easter, Eid-ul-Fitr, Ganesh Chathurti, Maha Shivaratree, and Ugadi.
Cavadee
Cavadee is celebrated in January/February. Along with the fire-walking and sword-climbing ceremonies, Cavadee is among the most spectacular Tamil events. The body pierced with needles and the tongue and cheeks with skewers, the devotee, trance-like and in penance, walks in procession to the temple bearing the "Cavadee", a wooden arch covered with flowers with a pot of milk at each end of its base which he or she places before the deity. [Public Holiday]

Chinese Spring Festival
The Spring Festival, which is the Chinese New Year, is celebrated in January/February, depending on the adjustment of lunar days. Red, symbol of happiness, is the dominant colour. Food is piled up to ensure abundance during the year and the traditional wax cake is distributed to relatives and friends. Firecrackers are lit to ward off evil spirits. [Public Holiday]

Christmas
Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration. [Public Holiday]

Divali
Divali is the most jovial of all Hindu festivals. Celebrated in October/November it marks the victory of righteousness over evil in the Hindu mythology. Traditionally, clay oil lamps were placed in front of every home turning the island into a fairyland of flickering lights; these have now been replaced mostly by decorative electric lights. [Public Holiday]

Eid-ul-Fitr
Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated to mark the end of Ramadhan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. It is a day of thanksgiving and rejoicing for Muslims. Prayers are offered at mosques during the morning. [Public Holiday]

Ganesh Chathurti
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated sometime in September, on the 4th day of the lunar month of the Hindu calendar. It marks the birthday of Ganesha, the God of wisdom and remover of all obstacles according to Hindu mythology. [Public Holiday]

Maha Shivaratree
MahaShivaratree is celebrated in honour of Hindu God, Siva (February). Hindu devotees, clad in spotless white, carry the "kanwar" - wooden arches covered with flowers – on pilgrimage to Grand Bassin, to fetch holy water from the lake. The whole scene is reminiscent of the great rituals on the banks of the Holy Ganges in India. [Public Holiday]

Ugadi
Ugadi is the Telegu New Year. It is usually celebrated in March. [Public Holiday]
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Overview
  • Geography and Climate
  • The Fauna and Flora
  • The people
  • Constitutional Development
  • Independent Mauritius
Geography and Climate
Mauritius is situated in the south-west of the Indian Ocean, 2 000 km from the east coast of Africa. The island lies just within the Tropic of Capricorn 20° south of the Equator and 57° east of Greenwich.
It is of volcanic origin and forms part of the group of islands commonly known as the Mascarenes, which comprise also the island of Reunion (a French territory), lying 240 km to the south-west and the island of Rodrigues (an integral
The island of Mauritius which has an area of 1 864 sq. km is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs. Within those reefs are peaceful lagoons, ringed by smooth beaches of white coral sand. There is a break in the coral reef only in the south where part of the coast is steep and rocky.
The island rises from the coastal plain to a central plateau where it reaches a height of 670 metres. The plateau is bordered by three mountain ranges: in the east by the Grand Port range, in the south-west by the Black River range and by the Moka range in the north-west. The highest peak is the Piton de la Riviere Noire (826 m), the others being the Pieter Both (818 m), the Pouce (811 m) and the Montagne du Rempart (772 m).
Mauritius has a maritime climate, tropical during summer and sub-tropical during winter. The summer months extend from October to March and winter from June to September. During the greater part of the year, trade winds blow from the south-east; they are steadier from May to October. In summer, the winds are lighter, periodically interrupted by cyclonic disturbances. The rainfall varies according to the height above the sea level, and ranges from 15mm in October to 187mm in February. The heavy rains occur mainly between January and May, although there are no well-defined rainy and dry seasons. The vegetation remains green throughout the year. In the centre of the island, the average mid-day temperature in July-August is 19°C and dawn temperature 13°C, increasing to 25°C and 19°C respectively by February. Near sea-level all temperatures are about 5°C higher, reaching an average of 30°C at mid-day in February.
The Fauna and Flora
Like most tropical oceanic islands, Mauritius has high levels of floral and faunal endemism and has suffered high extinction rates caused by a growing human population, habitat destruction and degradation.
To safeguard the remaining biodiversity, a terrestrial Protected Area Network has been established on the mainland, and associated offshore islets, comprising 20 formal state protected areas and covering a total area of 8,027ha.
The coastal regions are fringed with a belt of Casuarina trees (filaos). The Indian almond tree (badamier) is also to be found as well as the ficus (multipliant), flame-tree (flamboyant), originally from Madagascar, the African tulip, the “bauhinia” and the “jacaranda”.
Several wide green spaces and forests have been preserved as national parks of the country namely the Black River Gorges National Park; Bras d’Eau National Park; Islet National Parks comprising Ile aux Fouquets, Ile D’Ambre, Ile aux Oiseaux, Ile aux Flammants, Rocher des Oiseaux, Ile aux Fous, Pigeon Rock and Ile aux Vacoasamongs others. Various green spaces of tourists’ interests including parks and gardens are also being preserved as touristic sites such as SSR Botanic Garden at Pamplemousses and Curepipe, Vallée d’Osterlog Endemic Garden, Montvert and Sophie nature walks.
Furthermore, three Ramsar sites of international importance namely Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary, Blue Bay Marine Park and Pointe D’Esny have also been identified.
The people
History
The island was probably visited by Arab sailors during the Middle Ages, and on maps of about 1500, it is shown with an Arabic name. During the early sixteenth century, Portugese sailors visited it several times and it appears with a Portuguese name Cirne on maps of the sixteenth century.
Dutch sailors first visited the island in 1598 and named it Mauritius, after their ruler Prince Maurice of Nassau. However, it was not until 1638 that there was a first attempt of Dutch settlement and it lasted only twenty years. Several attempts were subsequently made, but the settlements never developed enough to produce dividends and the Dutch finally left Mauritius in 1710. The Dutch are remembered for the introduction of sugar-cane, domestic animals and deer.

The French landed on the island in 1715 and called it Isle de France, but it was only in 1721 that they attempted a permanent settlement. With slave labour imported from Madagascar and Africa, the French rapidly developed the country. The most illustrious of the French governors was Mahe de Labourdonnais who arrived in 1735 and established Port Louis as a naval base and a ship-building centre. He did much to change what was a petty outpost into a strong, prosperous and well-populated colony. The island was then under the administration of the French East India Company which maintained its presence until 1767. From the year until 1810, it was in charge of officials appointed by the French Government, except for a brief period during the French Revolution, when the inhabitants of the island set up a government virtually independent of France.
During the Napoleonic wars, the Isle de France had become a base from which French ships organized successful raids on English Commerce. The raids continued until 1810 when a strong British expedition was sent to capture the island. A preliminary attack was foiled at Grand Port in August 1810, but the main attack launched in December of the same year from Rodrigues, which had been captured a year earlier, was successful. By the Treaty of Paris in 1814 the Isle de France which regained its former name “Mauritius” was ceded definitely to Great Britain, together with its dependencies which included Rodrigues and the Seychelles (Seychelles was detached from Mauritius in 1903). The British conquest was followed by rapid social and economic changes.

During the early years of the British administration, slavery was abolished (1835) against a sum of two million pounds sterling which was paid to the planters as compensation for the loss of their slaves. Indentures labourers ere then brought from India to work in the sugar cane fields. That was the beginning of a new period of the island’s history and the Indian immigration was to change rapidly the fabric of the society.

Cultivation of sugar cane was given a boost and the island flourished, especially with the export of sugar to England, the crop increasing from 34,000 tons in 1833 to 70,000 tons in 1853 and 150,000 tons in 1900. Economic progress necessitated the extension and improvement of means of communication and gradually an adequate infrastructure was created.

The various population movements of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries have made Mauritius a unique blend of different races, cultures and religions. People of European, African, Indian and Chinese origins have created a multiracial society where the various cultures and traditions flourish in peace and harmony. The way of life of people has changed rapidly in the twentieth century. The causes include a lower birth rate, longer expectation of life, better educational opportunities, technological progress and a higher standard of living.

The population started to grow under French rule in the 18th century. In 1735 the population had grown to almost a thousand, and reached nearly 20 000 in 1767 (fifteen thousand of them slaves.) The upward trend continued and reached nearly 60 000 in the 1797, including fifty thousand slaves. When the British abolished slavery in 1835, the population stood at 100 000. The planters turned to the massive importation of cheap labour from India to work in the can fields and by 1865 some 200 000 Indian labourers were brought in. There was also a small influx of Chinese, who came as petty traders. By the turn of the century, the population numbered 371 000 and in 1944 it stood at 419 000. After the Second World War, the increase was more rapid, particularly because of the rise in the birth rate and the drop in the infantile mortality rate following the provision of better health services.
The rate if natural increase which was about 2.9% in 1969 has considerably dropped with family planning campaigns and greater awareness due to better education. At the end of 2016, the population was estimated at 1.2 million.
Constitutional Development
On the constitutional plane, the Council of Government which was first established in 1825, was enlarged in 1886 to make room for elected representatives. The new Council included 10 members elected on a restricted franchise.
It was not until 1933 that the Constitution was again amended in any significant respect. The proportion of nominated members of the Council not holding public office was raised to two bracket and to proprietors. A major breakthrough occurred in 1948, when after years of protracted negotiations for a more liberal constitution, franchise was extended to all adults who could pass a simple literacy test.
The Council of Government was replaced by a Legislative Council composed of 19 elected members, 12 members nominated by the Governor and three ex-officio members. General elections were held in August 1948 and the first Legislative Council met on 1st September 1948.
Following constitutional conferences held in London in 1955 and 1957, the ministerial system was introduced and general elections were held on 9th March 1959. Voting took place for the first time on the basis of universal adult suffrage and the number of electors rose to 208,684. In 1961, a “Constitutional Review Conference” was held in London which laid down a programme of further constitutional advance. This was followed in 1965 by another Constitutional Conference in London, which the way for Mauritius to achieve independence and to take her place among the sovereign nations of the world.
Independent Mauritius
After general elections in 1967, a formal resolution asking for independence was passed in the Legislative Assembly. Mauritius achieved independence on the 12th March, 1968 and Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam became the first Prime Minister.
Mauritius became an independent state within the Commonwealth with a democratic parliamentary system. Since independence, the country developed its infrastructure base, improved its communication facilities, introduced new social policies to raise the quality of life of its people and diversified. On 12 March 1992, Mauritius attained the status of Republic and Sir Veerasamy Ringadoo became President.
On the external front, Mauritius established privileged links with many countries, both with and outside the Commonwealth. It later became an member of the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Francophonie, the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific states), the African Union, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the Indian Ocean Rim Association. On the regional plane, Mauritius played a leading role in the setting up of the Indian Ocean Commission which groups islands of the south-west Indian Ocean in the context of regional and South/South co-operation.
Places of Interest
  • Unesco World Heritage Sites
  • National Heritage Sites
  • Ramsar Sites
  • Nature Parks
  • Islets
  • Museums
Unesco World Heritage Sites
Aapravasi Ghat
The Aapravasi Ghat is the remains of an immigration depot, built in 1849 and stands as the symbol of the first site chosen by the British Government for the ‘great experiment’ in the use of ‘free’ labour to replace slaves, after the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1834. It was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2006 and represents the first large-scale use of indentured labour in modern world.
The buildings of the Aapravasi Ghat located on the bay of Trou Fanfaron in the capital of Port-Louis are among the earliest explicit manifestations of what would become a global economic system. They represent the development of the modern system of contractual labour, and the memories, traditions and values of the immigrants which they subsequently bequeathed to their descendants.
The World Heritage Site is the sole surviving example of modern indentured labour Diaspora as it associates itself with the story of more than 457 000 indentured labourers from China, the Comoros, India, Madagascar, Mozambique and South East Asia who came to work in the sugar plantations of Mauritius or to be transshipped to Reunion Island, Australia, southern and eastern Africa between 1834 and 1920.
Le Morne Cultural Landscape
The Le Morne Cultural Landscape, inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage Site on 10 July 2008, is illustrative of the days of slavery in Mauritius and the quest for freedom during the 17th and 18th centuries.
It is located on the South Western tip of the island of Mauritius and was used as a shelter for slaves also known as maroons during colonial rule in Mauritius. With its physical attributes of a fortress, protected by the mountain’s isolated, wooded and inaccessible cliffs, the Le Morne Brabant mountain became a natural monument when groups of slaves escaped their masters to seek refuge on the mountains. The slaves formed small settlements in the caves and on the summit of Le Morne.
The World Heritage Site stands as a symbol of the suffering, fight for freedom and sacrifice of the slaves who came mainly from Africa, Madagascar India and South-east Asia and is testimony to maroonage or resistance to slavery.
National Heritage Sites
Mauritius is endowed with a richness of more than 200 cultural sites. These national heritage sites provide the population the opportunity to reflect on the outstanding cultural values attached to the sites and their importance in relation to the people’s lives, identities and communities.

National heritage sites are areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance. They represent major stages of a country's history, including significant on-going ecological, geological and biological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features.

In Mauritius, the National heritage sites are managed by the National Heritage Fund under the National Heritage Fund Act 2003 in view to safeguard, manage and promote the national heritage of Mauritius and preserve the national heritage sites as a source material for scientific and cultural investigation.

More details are available on the following link: List of National Heritage
Ramsar Sites
Mauritius became a contracting party to the Ramsar Convention on 30 September 2001. The Ramsar Convention is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. As a prerequisite to Ramsar Convention, the Government has set up a National Ramsar Committee comprising members from all relevant institutions involved with wetlands to assist the Ministry in implementing the provisions contained in the Ramsar Convention and to advise the Ministry on Wetland development issues.

As at date, three Ramsar Sites of international importance have been proclaimed in Mauritius. They are :

  1. 1. Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary on 30 September 2001
  2. 2. Blue Bay Marine Park on 31 January 2008
  3. 3. Pointe D’Esny on 16 September 2011
Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary
The site was proclaimed as a Ramsar Site due to its coastal estuarine characteristics and as a refuge for hundreds of migratory birds that visit Mauritius during the summer month (October–March).
About fourteen species of migratory birds originating predominantly from the Northern Hemisphere (Europe, Norway and Siberia) commonly visit the site as an over wintering ground whilst some vagrant species can also be encountered. This Ramsar Site supports rare and unique faunal and floral biodiversity and provides important climate change mitigation functions such as flood control, sediment trapping and shoreline stabilisation.
Blue Bay Marine Park
This Ramsar Site is recognised for its exceptional underwater seascape and unique coral garden treasuring high coral species diversity. The Blue Bay Marine Park harbours a marine ecosystem of rich biodiversity in marine fauna and flora especially in terms of its coral assemblage.
About 38 coral species representing 28 genera and 15 families and some 72 fish species have been recorded. The patch reef of the lagoon is spectacular supporting coral reef community with luxuriant coral growth of approximately 4 hectares and the only location where convoluted Montipora aequituberculata has been recorded. Dense growth of table corals, cactus corals, staghorn corals, and fire corals alternate and co-exist.
Pointe D’Esny
The Pointe d’Esny wetland (21.5 Ha) is one of the rare and largest remaining wetlands of Mauritius situated in the South Eastern village of Mahebourg. The site characterised as a natural coastal wetland supports a rich mangrove forests (Rhizophora mucronata and Bruguiera gymnorhiza mangrove species), the critically endangered Zornia vaughaniana plant, coastal fishes, crustacean, migratory and shore birds and provides local flood abatement functions.
Nature Parks
National parks protect places of natural beauty and the flora of Mauritius consists of some 700 species of plants out of which 273 species are endemic to the island, and about 150 species are shared with other islands of the Mascarene Archipelago; Reunion and Rodrigues.
BLACK RIVER GORGES NATIONAL PARK
The Black River Gorges National Park, located in the South West of the island, and covers an area of 6 574 hectares of forests including the highest point at Piton de la Rivière Noire (828 m), opened in 1994. It is mainly managed for the conservation of endemic flora and fauna, dissemination of and creation of public awareness, education and the provision of leisure to both local and foreign visitors.
Hiking Trails in Black River Gorges National Park
Trails lead to all parts of the park, from the shady path up the Black River Gorges to the often cloud-shrouded ridge walk to the Black River Peak. Some 60 km of trails are there for everyone to enjoy the panorama and to be closer to the plants and animals of the park.
The routes listed below and marked on the map are some of the more popular ones:
TRAIL PATHWAY LENGTH TRAIL TYPE
MACHABEE FOREST LOOP Pétrin-Machabée-Pétrin 14 km Return Moderate
MACHABEE TRAIL Pétrin-Black River Lower Gorges 10 km Strenuous
MARE LONGUE LOOP Pétrin-Mare Longue-Pétrin 12km Return Moderate
PARAKEET TRAIL Plaine Champagne-Black River Lower Gorges 8 km Strenuous
BLACK RIVER PEAK TRAIL Gorette-Black River Peak-Gorette 9 km Return Moderate
PAILLE en QUEUE TRAIL Alexandra – Plaine Champagne 3 km Moderate
SAVANNE TRAIL Plaine Paul – Piton Savanne – Plaine Paul 6 km Return Easy
CASCADE des GALLETS TRAIL Alexandra Falls-Cascade des Gallets-Alexandra Falls 3 km Return Strenuous
BRAS D’EAU NATIONAL PARK
Bras d’Eau National Park was proclaimed as the second terrestrial National Park of Mauritius in 2011. It is situated in the North East of the island and comprises part of State Land Bras d’Eau, part of Pas Geometriques Bras d’Eau and part of reserves of Poste Lafayette Pas Geometriques. It covers a total area of 497.2 hectares and is mainly under Mahogany, Araucaria, Tecoma and Eucalyptus plantations. The name Bras d’Eau originated from the outline of the mass of water protruding in the land in the shape of an arm between Pointe Radeau and Belcourt Bay.
Mare Sarcelle forms part of the Bras d’Eau National Park and covers an area of 89.37 hectares. It consists of an important thriving population of mangroves, native plant species and also supports a few species of migratory birds. This site is ideal for recreational activities such as hiking and bird watching.
Trail Description
Presently, there exist only two trails in the park:
  • • Coq des Bois Trail which takes you through the forest and ends at the Mares Chevrettes
  • • Coq de Bois Loop which is an extension of the existing Coq de Bois Trail.
The Coq des Bois Trail (5 km Return from Bras D’eau Visitor’s Centre) is a fairly easy one. Though only 2.5 km long, visitors may easily enjoy the different aspects of a forest since there are dwarf trees as well as tall trees along the track.
Islets
Islet National Parks have also been proclaimed on 05 June 2004. There are eight Islet National Parks in Mauritius as listed in the table below:

Islets Status Area (ha)
Ile d’Ambre National Park 128
Ile aux Flamants National Park 0.8
Ile aux Fouquets National Park 2.49
Ile aux Fous National Park 0.3
Ile aux Oiseaux National Park 0.7
Ilot Vacoas National Park 1.36
Pigeon Rock National Park 0.63
Rocher aux Oiseaux National Park 0.1
Museums
Museums ensure understanding and appreciation for cultures and simultaneously they promote better understanding of a collective heritage and foster dialogue. The national and specialised museums in Mauritius collect, preserve and use in a sustainable manner the Mauritian tangible and intangible heritage for the purpose of increasing knowledge and developing interest as well as promoting appreciation and respect for the heritage.
National History Museum
The National History Museum is situated at Mahebourg, in a fine park extending to about 12 acres, on the bank of River La Chaux. It is housed in Chateau Gheude (also known as Maison Robillard) which is an old French colonial country house built around 1772 and presently listed as a national heritage. The National History Museum highlights the social and cultural history of Mauritius, right from its discovery by the Portuguese at the start of the 16th century. It retraces the history of the successive colonisations of Mauritius by the Dutch, French and British, up to the end of the 19th century. The museum collection consists of diverse objects of ethnological and historical importance, documents, prints, paintings, maps, miniature sculptures by the Mauritian artist Prosper D'Epinay and marine archaeological finds from historic shipwrecks.
It was in a wing of this historic building that the two Commanders of the English and French squadrons, wounded in the Battle of Grand Port in 1810, were given medical treatment side by side. The National History Museum finds its origin in the Naval Relics Museum and the Museum of Historical Souvenirs.
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is located on the ground floor of the Mauritius Institute Building, right in front of the “Jardin de la Compagnie", in the heart of the City of Port Louis. The Natural History Museum is the oldest museum of Mauritius and amongst the oldest in southern Africa. In 1826, the naturalists Julien Desjardins and Louis Bouton made a request to Governor Sir Lowry Cole to set up a museum in Mauritius. On 14 October 1842, the Desjardins Museum was opened to the public, in a wing of the old Royal College in Port Louis, where it remained for 42 years.
In 1880, the Mauritius Institute was established by Governor Sir George Ferguson Bowen and the collection of Desjardins Museum was transferred to the newly erected Mauritius Institute Building five years later. The collection comprised mainly marine fauna and birds from the Mascarene Islands. The museum focused on the systematic collection, study and recording of the fauna and flora of Mauritius and the Mascarene Islands, and over the years developed into a centre of documentation and exchange in the various fields of natural history of the Mascarenes region.
Frederik Hendrik Museum
The Frederik Hendrik Museum is located on the south-east coast of Mauritius. It is situated at the Vieux Grand Port Historic Site, the cradle of Mauritian History. This is the site of the first human settlement in Mauritius. The Frederik Hendrik Museum was opened on 27 May 1999. Since 1997, the museum received many objects in its collection as a result of the ongoing archaeological excavation work on the site, undertaken by a group of Dutch researchers. Over the years new exhibits, retracing the history of the site, have been added in the museum. The Frederik Hendrik Museum serves as an interpretation centre for the Vieux Grand Port Historic Site.
The Frederik Hendrik Museum has one permanent display room in which panels and artefacts are exhibited. They consist of building materials (stones, bricks, nails; military objects like musket balls, canon balls, flint stones); everyday life artefacts and implements (sickle, hoe, beads, coins, clay pipes, ceramics and potteries, cooking utensils); food remains (bones of cattle, deer, pigs, dugong, tortoise); and shells. The panels depict the activities of the Dutch in Mauritius and the Indian Ocean, 17th century maps, and pictures of Maurits Van Nassau and Frederik Hendrik, stadtholders of the Netherlands. Images of the ongoing archaeological activities on the site and casts of features of the Fort Frederik Hendrik are also displayed here.
Robert Edward Hart Memorial Museum
The Robert Edward Hart Memorial Museum is located in the newly renovated coral bungalow, known as La Nef, by the seashore at Souillac. The Mauritian poet Robert Edward Hart, who was the curator/librarian of the Mauritius Institute in Port Louis, spent the last years of his life in this historic house. The interior setting of the house has been recreated and preserved, and the prevailing atmosphere plunges the visitor back into the time and lifestyle of the Mauritian poet.
Most of the poet's property recovered after his death are exhibited – furniture, personal effects and his works (both published and manuscripts). The museum has four rooms: two bedrooms, a drawing room/office and a bathroom.
Sookdeo Bissoondoyal Memorial Museum
The Sookdeo Bissoondoyal Memorial Museum is located on the main road in the village of Tyack, Rivière des Anguilles, in the house where Sookdeo Bissoondoyal was born. This simple building is basically rectangular, made of stone walls and covered with corrugated iron sheets. The Sookdeo Bissoondoyal Memorial Museum was inaugurated on 03 April 1987.
The aim of the Sookdeo Bissoondoyal Memorial Museum is to perpetuate the memory of the person after whom it has been named. It informs the public about the life and work of Sookdeo Bissoondoyal as a great leader who contributed towards the independence of Mauritius and the education of the poor.
SSR Memorial Centre for Culture
The Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Memorial Centre for Culture is one of the specialised museums under the purview of the Mauritius Museums Council since 2000 and is situated at 87, Desforges Street, Plaine Verte. The memorial centre is set up in the old wooden house, where Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam spent thirty years of his life, from 1935 to 1965 and comprises seven rooms where the personal paraphernalia of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam are displayed. These include his furniture, clothes, medical equipment and certificates. A major feature of the Centre is a photographic exhibition highlighting the main events in the life of this great statesman and of the nation.
Rich in history and symbolism, this popular Mauritian dwelling, over 150 years old, is an icon of the Mauritian architectural and historical heritage. The Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Memorial Centre for Culture was decreed a National Monument on 08 September 1986 and is presently listed as a National Heritage.
Fact and Figures
  • Fact and Figures
  • Economic Outlook
Fact and Figures
Mauritius since independence
Population and Health
1968 Now
Population Size 809,200 1,265,000
% female in the population 49.8 50.5
Household size 5.1 3.6
Average number of children born to a woman 4.6 1.4
Male Life expectancy at birth 60 years 71 years
Female Life expectancy at birth 64 years 68 years
Housing Conditions
Construction materials of houses

1968 Now
Straw/wood : 13%
Concrete wall and roof : 23 % Concrete wall and roof : 92%
Iron or tin walls or roof : 4% Iron or tin walls or roof : 5%
Other: 17% Other: 3%
Availability of piped water and electricity (% of all households)

1968 Now
Piped Water 88 % 100 %
Electricity 65 % 100 %
Education
Literacy rate

1968 Now
Male 73% 91%
Female 56% 87%
Both Sexes 64% 89%
Secondary enrolment

1968 Now
Male 37% 75%
Female 26% 81%
Both Sexes 31% 78%
Employment
Labour force participation rate

1968 Now
Male 83% 74%
Female 21% 46%
Economy
1968 Now
GDP at constant 2017 prices (Rs Million) 44,197 460,881
Per Capita GDP at constant 2017 prices (Rs) 54,618 364,365
Vehicles
1968 Now
Number of vehicles registered 24,000 508,000
of which auto/motor cycles 9,000 200,000
Purchasing Power
1968 Now
Consumer purchasing power of the rupee Rs 100 Rs 3,700
In 2017, we need Rs 3,700 to buy the equivalent of Rs 100 of goods purchased in 1968
Climate
1968 Now
Total Rainfall 1911 mm 2100 mm
Mean Temperature 22.6⁰ C 4.1⁰ C
Economic Outlook
Since its independence in 1968, Mauritius has travelled a challenging development path, from a third world country to join the league of upper middle income nations.
In 1980, Mauritius achieved a score of 55 out of 100 on the Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nations Development Programme. It was then among the low HDI nations of the world. Currently, Mauritius has a score of 78 and ranks among the High HDI nations of the world. The objective is to become a very high HDI country by 2021, that is, with a score of around 81 going on to reach 87 in 2030.
Mauritius has not known an economic recession in the past 37 years and holds the record for the longest run of positive economic growth in the world. In March 2018, Moody’s re-affirmed the Baa1 rating for Mauritius – a rating which according to them is supported by strong growth and macroeconomic resiliency to shocks.
In 2017, GDP expanded by 3.8 percent, with positive growth in all sectors, except sugarcane and textile. It is expected that GDP growth would be 3.9 percent in 2018, mainly driven by financial services, construction and tourism. Sectors such as agriculture, food processing, textile, construction, retail trade, ICT and global business are expected to register a higher growth rate than in 2017. In nominal terms, GDP at market prices increased by 5.8 percent in 2017 compared to 6.1 percent in 2016. It is expected to pick up to 7.0 percent in 2018.
Macro-Economic Performance
Real GDP Growth

  • • 2017: 3.8% (Estimates)
  • • FY 2017/18: 3.9% (Estimates)
  • • 2018: 3.9% (Forecast)
  • • FY 2018/19: 4-4.2% (Forecast)
Employment/Unemployment
The unemployment rate declined to 7.3 percent in 2016 and further to 7.1 percent in 2017. A high proportion of the unemployed were among the youths within the 16-24 years age group.
The youth unemployment rate is estimated at 24.9 percent in 2017 compared to 23.9 percent in 2016. The employment of Mauritians increased from 538,600 in 2016 to 545,100 in 2017. Increase in female employment accounted for 58 percent of the net increase in total Mauritian employment. There were 28,400 foreign workers in Mauritius in 2017.
Productivity
The gap between growth in labour productivity and average compensation continued to widen, leading to a constant rise in unit labour costs.
In 2017, labour productivity increased by 2.4 percent, while average compensation went up by 4.1 percent. As a result, unit labour cost rose by 1.7 percent. Sectors with the highest increase in labour productivity during the period 2009-2017 were administrative and support service activities, ICT and financial services.
Consumption Expenditure
Total consumption expenditure increased, in nominal terms, by 5.3 percent in 2016 and 6.1 percent in 2017, compared to 4.8 percent in 2015, mainly due to higher growth in household consumption.
In real terms, total consumption expenditure increased by 2.7 percent in 2017 compared to 2.9 percent in 2016. In 2018, total consumption expenditure is expected to increase by a higher rate of 6.8 percent in nominal terms and by 3.1 percent in real terms.
National Savings
Gross Domestic Savings, as a percentage of GDP, was 11 percent and 10.7 percent respectively in 2016 and 2017. In 2018, it is expected to rise to 10.9 percent.
Investment
The investment rate, defined as the ratio of gross domestic capital formation to GDP, averaged 17.3 percent during the period 2015-2017. The ratio of private investment to GDP for the period averaged 12.9 percent.
Total investment grew by 5.9 percent in nominal terms in 2017 compared to 5.4 percent in 2016. Investment in non-residential buildings, which fell by around 15 percent on average annually over 2013-2016, increased by 29.7 percent in 2017 mainly due to the renovation of a number of hotels.
For 2018, the investment rate is forecast at around 17.2 percent. A decline in the ratio of private investment to GDP from 13.2 percent in 2017 to 12.6 percent in 2018 would be offset by a rise in public investment to GDP ratio from 4.1 percent to 4.6 percent. Investment in nonresidential building would remain high while a pick-up is expected in residential buildings and other construction works.
Foreign Direct Investment Inflows
Mauritius continues to attract significant amount of foreign direct investment. In 2017, there were some Rs 17.5 billion of FDI flows in Mauritius compared to Rs 13.6 billion in 2016.
These investments were mainly in real estate development and financial services, which together accounted for 87.9 percent of total inflows. The share of FDI directed towards the construction sector amounted to 6.0 percent compared with an average of 4.2 percent during the previous 4 years. France was the main source of FDI inflows, accounting for 25.1 percent of total inflows in 2017. Significant inflows were also registered from Luxembourg, South Africa, China and the UK.
Foreign Direct Investment Outflows
In 2017, FDI outflows increased to Rs 2.6 billion, from Rs 1.8 billion in 2016.
Most of the investment was directed towards financial services, manufacturing, and real estate development. Some 74 percent of the investment went to developing countries, particularly in Africa (Kenya, Mozambique and Madagascar) and South Asia.
Foreign Currency Reserves
As at end May 2018, total reserves amounted to Rs 222.0 billion, equivalent to some 10.7 months of imports. This is an increase of 23.8 percent over the level of reserves in May 2017.
Inflation
Headline inflation reached a low of 1.0 percent in 2016. It rose to 3.7 percent in 2017 due to the increase in prices of petroleum products, prices of vegetables following unfavourable climatic conditions and excise taxes on tobacco and alcoholic products.
It further rose to 5.0 percent for the year ending April 2018 due to a jump in the prices of vegetables. Year-on-year inflation rate in December 2017 was 4.2 percent compared to 2.3 percent in December 2016. It was at 3.7 percent in April 2018. CORE1 inflation, which excludes “Food, Beverages and Tobacco” components and mortgage interest on housing loan from the CPI basket, increased from 0.4 percent in 2016 to 2.2 percent in 2017. It stood at 2.5 percent in March 2018. CORE2 inflation, which excludes food, beverages and tobacco, mortgage interest, energy prices and administered prices, was rather stable at 2.2 percent over the period.
Government Revenue
Government total revenue amounted to 21 percent of GDP in FY 2016/17, almost same as in FY 2015/16. Tax revenue as a percentage of GDP increased from 18.5 in FY 2015/16 to 18.8 in FY 2016/17. Non-tax revenue, which includes grants from donor countries and transfers from Special Funds, amounted to 2.2 percent of GDP, slightly lower than in FY 2015/16.
Government Expenditure
Total government expenditure as a percentage of GDP reached 24.5 in FY 2016/17. Capital expenditure as a percentage of GDP went down from 2.5 percent of GDP to 2.3 percent in FY 2016/17.
National Symbols
Communique
Regulations
The National Flag Act