The 18th triennial Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers was
held in Port Louis during 28–31 August 2012 and was attended by
delegations from 39 countries.
Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, a Frenchman whose parents originated from
Mauritius, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2008.
Mauritius has one of the highest life expectancies in Africa (74 years).
Joined Commonwealth: 1968
Population: 1,244,000 (2013)
GDP: 3.5% p.a. 1990–2013
UN HDI: world ranking 63
Official language: English
Timezone: GMT plus 4hr
Currency: Mauritian rupee (MRs)
Area: Island of Mauritius
1,864 sq km; Rodrigues 104 sq km; total area, including other islands
2,040 sq km.
Capital city: Port Louis
Population density (per sq. km): 610
The Republic of
Mauritius, an island country in the Indian Ocean, lies east of
Madagascar and the south-east African coast. Its nearest neighbour is
the French island of Réunion. The Constitution of Mauritius provides
that Mauritius includes the islands of Mauritius, Rodrigues, Agalega,
Tromelin, Cargados Carajos and the Chagos Archipelago, including Diego
Garcia and any other island comprised in the State of Mauritius.
Mauritius has always maintained that it has sovereignty over the Chagos
Archipelago but has not been able so far to exercise its sovereignty.
Port Louis (capital, pop.
151,033 in 2013), Vacoas-Phoenix (106,493), Beau Bassin-Rose Hill
(104,973), Curepipe (79,273), Quatre Bornes (77,534), Triolet (23,780),
Goodlands (20,990), Bel Air (17,935), St Pierre (16,193), Central Flacq
(16,085), Mahébourg (15,431), Le Hochet (15,289) and Grand Baie
There are 2,150 km of
roads, 98 per cent paved, including at least 30 km of motorways and 940
km of main roads. There is no railway.
Port Louis is the main harbour and only commercial port. Facilities
include a container terminal and terminals for the bulk handling of
sugar, oil, wheat and cement.
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport at Plaisance is in the
south-east of the island, some 50 km from Port Louis. There is an
airstrip at Plaine Corail on Rodrigues receiving a daily service from
Mauritius is a member of
the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, African Union,
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Indian Ocean Rim
Association, Non-Aligned Movement, Organisation internationale de la
Francophonie, Southern African Development Community, United Nations and
World Trade Organization.
Mauritius hosts the headquarters of the Indian Ocean Rim Association.
The island of Mauritius
is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs, with lagoons and
coral-sand beaches. Mountains, with rocky peaks, rise abruptly from the
broad fertile plains; within lies the central plateau. The rivers flow
fast through deep ravines, with frequent waterfalls. They are not
navigable, but fill eight reservoirs. The longest is the 34 km Grand
River South-East. There are two natural lakes, Grand Bassin and Bassin
Blanc, both craters of extinct volcanoes.
The climate is maritime
subtropical, with south-east trade winds blowing for much of the year.
Summer, the rainy season, is from November to April, winter from June to
September. Rainfall ranges from 80 mm in October to 310 mm in February.
Heavy rains fall mainly from late December to the beginning of April.
Cyclones, occurring in the summer, occasionally cause severe damage.
The most significant
issues are water pollution, and degradation of coral reefs.
The mountain foothills
are densely vegetated, many planted with sugar cane and tea. Some 4,600
hectares of forest land have been set aside as nature reserves. Remains
of the original ebony forests, felled by the early settlers, have
survived here. The uplands have been extensively replanted with conifers
and eucalyptus. Trees include coastal casuarina trees (called filaos),
the Indian almond tree (badamier), ficus (multipliant), flametree
(flamboyant), African tulip, bauhinia and jacaranda. Mangroves grow
along the east and south-east coasts. Many indigenous trees and tree
orchids have vanished, but over 10,000 plant species remain, of which
more than 150 are indigenous to Mauritius and 40 to Rodrigues. Forest
covers 17 per cent of the land area, having declined at 0.5 per cent
Arable land comprises 38 per cent and permanent cropland two per cent of
the total land area.
Mauritius was the home of
the dodo, an extinct species of flightless large turkey. Conservation
systems are now well enforced, but only nine of a known 25 species of
indigenous birds remain, including the Mauritius kestrel and the pink
pigeon. The Rodrigues fruit bat or golden bat was in danger of becoming
extinct until recently; the Mauritius fruit bat is more common. Javanese
deer, introduced by the Dutch for food, are found mainly in the uplands
and the ravines, and protected by hunting restrictions. There are 12
species of lizards, four of non-poisonous snakes and 2,000 of insects
and butterflies. Three of the butterflies – the citrus, ficus and sailor
– are unique to the islands. Marine fauna is very rich.
Mauritius was uninhabited
until 1598, and had much unique wildlife and plant life. There were
Dutch settlers from 1638 until 1710. The French took formal possession
in 1715 and sent settlers from 1721; the French East India Company
governed the island, called Île de France, from about 1767. Slaves were
brought in from Madagascar, Mozambique and other parts of Africa.
The island was captured by the British in 1810, during the Anglo–French
war, and renamed Mauritius. Together with its dependencies, including
Seychelles and Rodrigues, the island was formally ceded to Britain under
the Treaty of Paris (1814). At the time slavery was abolished, in 1834,
there were 68,616 registered slaves in the country. After abolition,
indentured labourers were recruited, mainly from India, to work in the
expanding sugar industry. More than 200,000 Indian labourers arrived
between 1840 and 1870. They were later joined by a small number of
Chinese traders. The population swelled from 100,000 in 1835 to 371,000
by the end of the century.
From 1810 until they were separated in 1903, Mauritius and Seychelles
were administered as a single British colony by a Governor and British
The independence movement had its roots in the labour movement which, in
the late 1940s, campaigned for the transfer of political power to
Mauritians. In 1947 the franchise was extended to every literate adult.
A measure of democratic self- government followed, with a general
election in 1948 and the first legislative council. Universal adult
suffrage was introduced in 1959.
Negotiations for political autonomy in the 1960s were led by Seewoosagur
Ramgoolam. Elections were held in 1967, which were won by a
pro-independence alliance of Ramgoolam’s Labour Party and two smaller
groups, the Independent Forward Bloc and the Muslim Action Committee. A
new constitution granting internal self-government was then introduced.
Mauritius became an independent state and joined the Commonwealth on 12
Alarmed by the growing strength of the socialist Mouvement Militant
Mauricien (MMM), led by Paul Bérenger, and union strikes, the government
of Ramgoolam refused to allow the general election due in 1972. A state
of emergency was declared and MMM and union leaders imprisoned.
In the 1976 general election, Labour retained power by forming an
alliance with the Parti Mauricien Social Démocrate (PMSD). But in 1982
the MMM, in alliance with Labour breakaway group the Parti Socialiste
Mauricien (PSM), won all the elected seats in the National Assembly. In
government, the MMM was less radical than it had been in the early
1970s, but the MMM/PSM alliance broke up within a year. Anerood Jugnauth,
Prime Minister and MMM President, then broke away from the MMM to form a
new party, the Mouvement Socialiste Mauricien (MSM), which formed an
alliance with Labour and the PMSD. The new alliance won the elections of
1983, leaving the old MMM in opposition. The Organisation du Peuple
Rodriguais again won the two Rodrigues seats and joined the new
In 1984, Jugnauth dismissed a number of ministers, most of them members
of the Labour Party, and the coalition government split. Those Labour
MPs who continued to support the government formed the Rassemblement des
Travaillistes Mauriciens (RTM). In an early general election called in
June 1987, the MSM/PMSD/RTM coalition unexpectedly won a comfortable
majority. The PMSD left the alliance in 1988, and the MMM came into the
alliance in its place.
The alliance of MSM and MMM were returned to power in 1991; it held firm
until 1993 when MMM leader Paul Bérenger was dismissed from the cabinet
and took part of the MMM with him to form an alliance with the Labour
Party. Meanwhile, the constitution was amended to make Mauritius a
republic on 12 March 1992.
The Labour Party–MMM alliance won a sweeping victory at elections held
in December 1995, leaving the country with only a token parliamentary
opposition. Labour Party leader Navinchandra Ramgoolam became Prime
Minister and Bérenger Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign
Affairs. The government introduced privatisation policies, despite
strong opposition from the MMM and unions. Bérenger and other MMM
members resigned from the coalition to rejoin the opposition in June
Lost in Paradise,
Mauritius is a fascinating, world-in-one-island slice of paradise. Its
very name of conjures up images of tropical luxury and stupendous
extravagance. While in many destinations famed for cobalt-blue seas,
white sandy beaches and luxury hotels, you may eventually find yourself
wishing for something to do besides sunbathing and swimming, it’s often
hard to know what to do next in Mauritius. The island is loaded with
historic sights, cultural diversity, geographic variation and almost
limitless activities to distract you from the daily grind of beach and
pool. But perhaps its single biggest asset is the relaxed charm of its
warm and welcoming people.
The History of Mauritius
Or, the Isle of France and the Neighbouring Islands; from their First
Discovery to the Present Time composed principally from he Papers and
Memoirs of Baron Grant who resided twenty years in the Island by his son
Charles Grant, Viscunt de Vaux (1801) (pdf)
Mauritius, A Piece Of A Star In The Ocean
A piece of a star from a world of dreams that fell into the Indian
Ocean. With its ring of coral, lagoons swarming with fish and
magnificent bays, Mauritius Island does indeed look to have come
straight out of a dream. The wildlife is extraordinary, as is the
diversity of population and religions. In unveiling this wealth of
landscape and cultures, this DVD Guide will help you to understand why
Baudelaire was inspired by the island in his poem “Parfum exotique”, and
to grasp the evolution of an island that has successfully combined the
dream dimension with development.
Mauritius Vacation Travel Video Guide
The little island, lying in the center of the Indian Ocean is a real
tropical paradise. Along the white sand beaches, shaded by coconut palm
trees there are many luxury hotels. We can take excursions to the nearby
islands, or take a dive in the turquoise blue water. In the center of
the island, on the top of a vulcanic plateau, emerald green sugar cane
plantations can be found. On the Domaine Les Pailles estate we can have
a glimpse at how rum and sugar are produced from sugar cane. We can try
the Indian dishes and take a look at the colorful Hindu temple. We might
enjoy the Sega dance and taste the teas from the Bois Cheri plantation.
We might also take a Jeep Tour through the Black River National Park and
take a look at the marvellous waterfall of Chamarel, while in the zoo
the famous pink pigeon and the golden bat can be found. In the city
there is the Blue Penny Museum and one of the worlds most beautiful
tropical parks, the Pamplemousses Botanic Garden to visit.
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