The Republic of Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean south-west, about 900 km east of Madagascar, considered part of the African continent. In addition to the main island, the republic includes the islands of St. Brandon, Rodrigues and the Agalega Islands. Mauritius is part of the Mascarene Islands, with the French island of Reunion, located 200 km south-west.
The island of Mauritius was already known to the Malays and the Arabs at least the tenth century, the Arabs called Diva Harab. The Portuguese discovered it in 1505 and named it Ilha do Cerne ("swan island"), but the island remained uninhabited until the first Dutch settlement in 1598. It was the Dutch to give it the name of Mauritius, after Prince Maurice of Nassau. Hurricanes and other bad weather brought the Dutch to abandon the island some decades later. In 1715 the French took over, renamed it Île de France. Conquered by the British in December 1810, Mauritius returned to his Dutch name. On 1 February 1835 the administration abolished slavery.
In 1965, the British escaped the Chagos Archipelago to Mauritius, which became part of British Indian Ocean Territory. Subsequently, the Government of Mauritius argued that this was illegal under international law and claimed possession of the Chagos.
The country achieved independence on March 12, 1968, becoming a republic within the Commonwealth in 1992. Mauritius has always been a stable democracy with free and fair elections, which respects human rights and attracting substantial foreign investment. It has one of the highest per-capita GDP in Africa.
The two official languages are English and French, with the French is the language most widely used although France has lost control of the island almost 200 years ago. The residents often use a creole language based primarily on the French, with influences derived from English, Hindi and Portuguese from Madagascar. A written form of Creole has developed since the end of the sixties: being based on the pronunciation, it looks like very little French. The descendants of those Indian workers who now make up about 70% of the population and were brought to the island by the British also speak various Asian languages, including Hindi, Urdu, Telugu, and others. For the rest, the inhabitants are of French origin, African or mixed, and there are also some 30,000 Chinese and Hakka, originating in Canton.
50% of Mauritians professing the Hindu religion, followed by Christians (28%) and Muslims (17%).
The culture of Mauritius reflects its different colonial past and cosmopolitan nature of its society. In cities like the capital Port Louis is located a short distance, mosques, Christian churches, pagodas and a Jewish cemetery, and during the alternate years corresponding to different cults, religious festivals such as Divali (the "festival of lights") and Cavadee the Hindu, the Christian Christmas and the 'Id al-Fitr Islamic ʿ. Similarly, the kitchen is a mix of Desi cuisine, Creole, Chinese and French (but the most common dish is still the dear poule, chicken curry with obvious Indian origin).
The island is divided into nine districts
3. Grand Port
6. Plaines Wilhems
7. Port Louis
8. Riviere du Rempart
In addition to the main island, Mauritius has the following dependencies:
Rodrigues, an island that was once heavily populated the tenth district, now independent;
Agalega and Saint Brandon;
Nazareth Bank, Soudan Banks, Saya de Malha Bank Hawkins Bank, places groups of rocks off the coast of Mauritius.
Since it gained independence in 1968, Mauritius has maintained an annual economic growth rate of around 5% -6%. This remarkable achievement has made the country the second African country such as GDP per capita after the Equatorial Guinea (which derives most of its earnings from the export of oil).
The economy of Mauritius is mainly based on agriculture, with industrial, financial, tourism and textile industry continues to grow. Agriculture is mainly based on the production of sugar cane, with more than 60% of the acreage devoted to this activity, export accounts for 25% of the revenue of the country (this activity has been seriously damaged in a period exceptional drought occurred in 1999). Other important crops are tea, and island vanilla. Among the products there are also some local rum.
The distribution of wealth among citizens is much more balanced than is the case in most African countries, a factor that had a positive impact on increasing life expectancy and reducing infant mortality.
The recent government economic strategy is focusing on foreign investments in all sectors. The island's major trading partners are France and the United Kingdom, which have many factories in Mauritius, for example, in the branch of textile industry (garments are produced in Mauritius with famous brands like Lacoste and Ralph Lauren but also the Italian Nino Cerruti, Diesel and Gas ).
On April 4, 2005, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth announced that within four years Mauritius will become a free port, taxes on many products have already been significantly reduced or even eliminated. In this way the Government aims to attract a volume of tourism even more than today and at the same time increase the purchasing power of their citizens. Also in this framework of development you can read the plan to extend coverage to the entire island Wi-Fi for Internet access (already available on 60% of the territory). The volume of tourism, currently stable at around 700,000 visitors a year, could double in accordance with current projects.
Mauritius is rich in endemic plants (about one in three species), and its original vegetation, however, is in grave danger due to the introduction of foreign plants and animals and of monocultures. To observe the native vegetation of Mauritius, by now, you must visit the botanical gardens of Pamplemousses. The institute Mauritius Wildlife Appeal Fund (Mwafi) is trying to define protected areas in which to restore the original ecosystem of Mauritius.
Mauritius has few palm trees, beaches are home instead of the casuarina trees, tall and thin like pine and eucalyptus trees (imported). Other plants are spectacular and flamboyant Indian giant banana. Is cultivated anthurium, a decorative flower imported from South America.
Another plant is endemic tambalacoque or dodo tree, associated with the famous extinct animal.
Among the mammals that inhabit the island one can cite the mongoose and the Java deer (imported from the Netherlands to be used as prey in hunting). In the area of Black River are also wild pigs and macaques.
There are numerous birds, although in this case, many species are endangered. The Mauritius kestrel is an example of endangered species, the Mauritius Kestrel Conservation Program, founded in 1973, is trying to save the species. Is protected from Mwafi instead of the Mauritius parakeet. They are also in danger the pink pigeon, the coracina of Mauritius, the Mauritius black bulbul (bulbul is the Arabic name of "Nightingale"), the Mascarene paradise flycatcher and the eyeglass of Mauritius. They are already extinct, as well as the famous dodo, the black parrot and the water rail of Mauritius in Mauritius. Among the most common species instead have included the Red fody Madagascar, the Maine Indian weaver gendarme and especially the red-whiskered bulbul from.
The waters around Mauritius, with its coral reef, teeming with life, the species that live in the reef (clown fish, cleaner fish, shrimp of the sea anemones, the various species of manta rays (Manta birostris, sea eagle, torpedo, and trigone Taeniura melanospilos), sharks (nurse sharks and white tip) and moray eels, as well as numerous invertebrates and rare sea turtles.
The largest nature reserve is the Mauritius Black River Gorges National Park, around the area of the Rivière Noire, more than 6,574 hectares. Other reserves (many of them on islands and atolls around Mauritius) are Le Pouce, Ile Ronde, Ile aux Serpents, Île aux Aigrettes, Île Cocos Île aux Sables and Bois Sec There are also a certain amount of nature reserves off limits to public, which are used for programs for the conservation of species.
The kind of music typical of the island, which corresponds to a specific form of dance, is the saw. Although the saw is generally attributed to an African origin, there are obvious parallels with the mainland or as regards the type of dance (characterized by frenetic yet sensual movement of the pelvis), or the equipment used (including a drum known as a caravan ). The saw is often danced in the hotel, as a spectacle for tourists, but has strong roots in modern culture, even the island, and some of its variants are linked to politics, especially on the left (the so-called saw engagé). In inland areas, dominated by ethnic Indians, there is also a strong tradition of Bhojpuri songs.
Mauriciana literature has long been a traditionalist, and inspired by the French. The Mauritanian most famous literary work of all is Paul and Virginia (Paul et Virginie, 1778) by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, a romantic novel that belongs to the history of world literature. Still wrote in the twentieth century French authors such as Lois Masson (L'etoile et la Clef), Malcolm de Chazal (Petrusmok), Yvan Lagesse, Khal Torabully, semiologist coolitude maker and poet, and others. The literature in Creole was essentially rooted in the opera "pioneering" by Charles Bassaic (late nineteenth century), but has experienced a real development only since the seventies, with authors such as René Asgarally (Quand Pren Dife Mountains), Ramesh RAMDOYAL (The Sea Mo Mémoire) and Dev Virahsawmy (FIME de Lizie). Literature in French and Creole traditions while also having children, for example in Hindi (an author Mauritanian also popular in India Abhimanyu Unnuth). As for Mauritius and the history of literature, you may also recall that Baudelaire wrote his first poem in Mauritius.
Mauritius was the fifth nation in the world to issue postage stamps, the first two types, the Penny Red and the Blue Penny are in 1847 and are among the rarest and most expensive in the world. The first editions in fact carried the inscription "Post Office", a misprint for "Post Paid". Withdrawn from the market as soon as they realized the error, now are sold at a price of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Although it already extinct in 1681, the dodo is a sort of symbol of the country: it appears on the official coat of arms of Mauritius, and is used as a model for many logos, gadgets and other representations.
The greatest culinary traditions are found in the island's culinary tradition: the Creole cuisine, strong flavors and spicy, with delicious French cuisine, to the traditional Chinese soups, while the presence of the Indian Ocean provides a wide range of fish and shellfish.