Mauritius: a beautiful island in the indian ocean
Officially the Republic of Mauritius (French: République de Maurice), is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) off the southeast coast of the African continent. The country includes the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues, 560 kilometres (350 mi) east of Mauritius, and the outer islands (Agaléga, St. Brandon and two disputed territories). The islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues form part of the Mascarene Islands, along with nearby Réunion, a French overseas department. The area of the country is 2,040 km2 (790 sq mi). The capital and largest city is Port Louis. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and the African Union.
In 1598, a Dutch squadron under Admiral Wybrand van Warwyck landed at Grand Port and named the island Mauritius, in honour of Prince Maurice van Nassau, stadholder of the Dutch Republic. Later the island became a French colony and was renamed Isle de France. On 3 December 1810, the French surrendered the island to Great Britain during the Napoleonic Wars. Under British rule, the island’s name reverted to Mauritius. Mauritius is also commonly known as Maurice and Île Maurice in French, Moris in Mauritian Creole.
Formerly a Dutch colony (1638–1710) and a French colony (1715–1810), Mauritius became a British colonial possession in 1810 and remained so until 1968, the year in which it attained independence. The British Crown colony of Mauritius once included the current territories of Mauritius, Rodrigues, the outer islands of Agaléga, St. Brandon, Chagos Archipelago, and Seychelles. The Mauritian territories gradually devolved with the creation of a separate colony of Seychelles in 1903 and the excision of the Chagos Archipelago in 1965. The sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago is disputed between Mauritius and the United Kingdom (UK). The UK excised the archipelago from Mauritian territory in 1965, three years prior to Mauritian independence. The UK gradually depopulated the archipelago’s local population and leased its biggest island, Diego Garcia, to the United States. Access to the archipelago is prohibited to casual tourists, the media, and its former inhabitants. Mauritius also claims sovereignty over Tromelin Island from France.
The people of Mauritius are multiethnic, multi-religious, multicultural and multilingual. The island’s government is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system, and Mauritius is highly ranked for democracy and for economic and political freedom. The Human Development Index of Mauritius is the highest in Africa. Along with the other Mascarene Islands, Mauritius is known for its varied flora and fauna, with many species endemic to the island. The island is widely known as the only known home of the dodo, which, along with several other avian species, was made extinct by human activities relatively shortly after the island’s settlement. Mauritius is the only country in Africa where Hinduism is the largest religion. The administration uses English as its main language.
The island is surrounded by more than 150 km (100 mi) of white sandy beaches, and the lagoons are protected from the open sea by the world’s third-largest coral reef, which surrounds the island. Just off the Mauritian coast lie some 49 uninhabited islands and islets, several used as natural reserves for endangered species.
The environment in Mauritius is typically tropical in the coastal regions with forests in the mountainous areas. Seasonal cyclones are destructive to its flora and fauna, although they recover quickly. Mauritius ranked second in an air quality index released by the World Health Organization in 2011.
Situated near the Tropic of Capricorn, Mauritius has a tropical climate. There are 2 seasons: a warm humid summer from November to April, with a mean temperature of 24.7 °C (76.5 °F) and a relatively cool dry winter from June to September with a mean temperature of 20.4 °C (68.7 °F). The temperature difference between the seasons is only 4.3 °C (7.7 °F). The warmest months are January and February with average day maximum temperature reaching 29.2 °C (84.6 °F) and the coolest months are July and August with average overnight minimum temperatures of 16.4 °C (61.5 °F). Annual rainfall ranges from 900 mm (35 in) on the coast to 1,500 mm (59 in) on the central plateau. Although there is no marked rainy season, most of the rainfall occurs in summer months. Sea temperature in the lagoon varies from 22–27 °C (72–81 °F) The central plateau is much cooler than the surrounding coastal areas and can experience as much as double the rainfall. The prevailing trade winds keep the east side of the island cooler and bring more rain. There can also be a marked difference in temperature and rainfall from one side of the island to the other. Occasional tropical cyclones generally occur between January to March and tend to disrupt the weather for only about three days, bringing heavy rain.
The country is home to some of the world’s rarest plants and animals, but human habitation and the introduction of non-native species have threatened its indigenous flora and fauna. Due to its volcanic origin, age, isolation, and its unique terrain, Mauritius is home to a diversity of flora and fauna not usually found in such a small area. Before the Portuguese arrival in 1507, there were no terrestrial mammals on the island. This allowed the evolution of a number of flightless birds and large reptile species. The arrival of man saw the introduction of invasive alien species and the rapid destruction of habitat and the loss of much of the endemic flora and fauna. Less than 2% of the native forest now remains, concentrated in the Black River Gorges National Park in the southwest, the Bambous Mountain Range in the southeast, and the Moka-Port Louis Ranges in the northwest. There are some isolated mountains, Corps de Garde, Le Morne Brabant, and several offshore islands with remnants of coastal and mainland diversity. Over 100 species of plants and animals have become extinct and many more are threatened. Conservation activities began in the 1980s with the implementation of programmes for the reproduction of threatened bird and plant species as well as habitat restoration in the national parks and nature reserves.
When it was discovered, Mauritius was the home of a previously unknown species of bird, the dodo, descendants of a type of pigeon which settled in Mauritius over four million years ago. With no predators to attack them, they had lost their ability to fly. Arabs became the first humans to set foot on Mauritius, followed by Portuguese around 1505. The island quickly became a stopover for ships engaged in the spice trade.
Weighing up to 50 pounds (23 kg), 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, new species were introduced to the island. Rats, pigs, and monkeys ate dodo eggs in the ground nests.
The human stupidity 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.The dodo is prominently featured as a (heraldic) supporter of the national coat of arms of Mauritius.
The estimated resident population of the Republic of Mauritius was 1,264,000 as of December 2016.
Subsequent to a Constitutional amendment in 1982, there is no need for Mauritians to reveal their ethnic identities for the purpose of population census. Official statistics on ethnicity are not available. The 1972 census was the last one to measure ethnicity. Mauritius is a multiethnic society, drawn from Indian (mostly Bhojpuri and Awadhi), African, Chinese and European (mostly French) origin.
According to the 2011 census conducted by Statistics Mauritius, Hinduism is the majority religion at 51.9%, followed by Christianity (31.4%), Islam (15.3%) and Buddhism (0.4%). Those of other religions accounted for 0.2% of the population, and 0.7% reported themselves as non-religious and 0.1% did not answer. Mauritius is the only country in Africa to have a Hindu majority.
Mauritius is a major tourist destination, ranking 3rd in the region and 56th globally. It enjoys a tropical climate with clear warm sea waters, beaches, tropical fauna and flora complemented by a multi-ethnic and cultural population.
Mauritius received the World’s Leading Island Destination award for the third time and World’s Best Beach at the World Travel Awards in January 2012.
Tourists can now climb the Le Morne Brabant mountain, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Issues often encountered by foreign tourists include scams, overcharging and dual pricing