Mauritius is a 790 square mile nation situated in the Indian Ocean. Mauritius is the 170th largest nation in the world and the 156th most populated, with a population of just over one million people. Despite its relatively low population, Mauritius has the 19th highest population density in the world at 1,601.2 people per square mile. The islands of Mauritius were formed as a result of volcanic activity that occurred about 8 million years ago. Below is a collection of fascinating facts about Mauritius!
- The first people to inhabit Mauritius were Arabs
In the middle ages, Arab sailors became the first recorded group of people to visit the island of Mauritius. Some experts dispute whether the Arabs were the first to arrive in Mauritius due to the presence of several wax tablets. However, because the tablets were not properly maintained their origin cannot be verified. The first Europeans to visit the island were the Portuguese, who arrived in 1507.
- Three countries colonized Mauritius
The Dutch were the first European powers to have control over the island of Mauritius, and their rule lasted from 1638 to 1710. The Dutch were unable to realize the full potential of the island, and in 1710 they abandoned Mauritius. Five years later the French took control of the island and their rule lasted until 1810. The most effective French governor of Mauritius was Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais. During his rule, the economy of the island thrived. The British took control of Mauritius from France after the latter gave up control of the island.
- Mauritius was essential to the Indian Ocean Trade
Before the Suez Canal was completed, nations in Europe had to rely primarily on the Indian Ocean to trade with nations in the East. The location of Mauritius made it a prime location for countries looking to control the Indian Ocean trade route. France and Britain were the nations that fought over the islands, and eventually, Britain defeated the French.
- Mauritius was the leading producer of sugar in the British Empire
During French rule of Mauritius, Bertrand-François encouraged the residents to grow sugarcane. He also put in place several measures such as improving the infrastructure and bringing in new technologies to improve the sector. When the British took over the control of the island, they found a vibrant sugar industry which they improved through various measures. The most significant factor that led to the growth of the industry was the increase in the number and the efficiency of the sugar mills. Sugar production increased exponentially in Mauritius from 1812 when the nation produced 467 tons of sugar to 415,000 tons in 1949.
- The capital is one of the oldest cities in the country
By 1638, Port Louis was already being utilized as a harbor although the French were the ones who elevated the status of the city. Port Louis was declared the government's administrative center when Mauritius was under the French rule in 1735. One of the main reasons for the rapid growth of Port Louis was because it was shielded from strong winds by the Moka Mountain.
- Slavery was common on Mauritius
The first slaves in Mauritius came from the island of Madagascar, and Van der Stel was responsible for bringing them to the country. The sugarcane industry in Mauritius was built on the backs of enslaved people who worked long hours without pay. The British declared slavery illegal in Mauritius in 1835.
- Mauritius played an important role in the Second World War
During the Second World War, the British valued Mauritius greatly for its strategic value. The British constructed a naval base on Mauritius and later they expanded their military presence on the island to include an air station. Mauritius played an integral role in several antisubmarine operations. One of the most vital roles that Mauritius played in the war was in the collection of intelligence.
- The Mauritian flag is referred to as the Four Bands
When the nation of Mauritius gained independence in 1968, one of the first things the government did was adopt a flag to symbolize what the nation represented. The first color on the flag was red which represents the blood that was shed as the citizens fought for independence. The blue signifies the Indian Ocean which plays a significant role in the economy of Mauritius. Yellow symbolizes the bright future that the government hopes for its citizens. The last color on the Mauritian flag is green which stands for the thriving vegetation in the country.
- Mauritius attracts vast numbers of tourists
The Mauritian tourism industry contributes significantly to the country's economy as it is a great source of foreign exchange as well as a source of employment. Statistics indicate that about 273,419 French tourists visited Mauritius in 2017 which was more than any other country of origin.
- Indigenous plants in Mauritius are significantly threatened
Mauritius boasts of nearly 700 native species of plants with some notable examples being the takamaka tree and the ox tree. Due to the introduction of some invasive plants such as the traveler's tree, the native flora of Mauritius faces the risk of extinction.
- Mauritius was home to the Dodo
Even though the final dodo in the world was killed in 1681, it is still the Mauritian national bird. Before the arrival of people in Mauritius, the dodo had lost its ability to fly as it had no natural predators. The settlement of humans on Mauritius also resulted in the introduction of some animals that would later prey on the dodo. The combination of human and animal predators resulted in the extinction of the dodo.
- Mauritian cuisine is one of the most exceptional in the world
Due to its unique location and history, the culinary tradition of Mauritius was influenced by some cultures such as the Chinese and the French. Spices are regularly used to give Mauritian cuisine its distinctive flavor. Tourists can sample some native Mauritian dishes in most of the hotels in the country.