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» 28 Feb 2011

This month we have decided to explore the Mauritius history lane, a theme inspired by our Independence day (March 12th). Amusingly enough, preparing this page made me think about the chicken and egg theory as I wondered who came first. Indeed, Mauritius was peaceful and uninhabited and had no natives apart from indigenous plants and animals, so when the different settlers took interest, they brought along their culture and resources and this has changed the face of Mauritius forever. Mauritius has now become multicultural, is dotted with historical monuments, ruins and architecture dating back to different colonial rules, and the dodos have become extinct!

Besides our island, also known as Paradise Island is now one of the leading economies in Africa. Through our timeline of events, we’ve killed two birds (The Solitaire and the Dodo) with one stone by giving you the historical aspect and places to explore as well during your visits 




 Phoenicians, Malays, Swahili and Arab seamen have visited the island but did not settle in. It was however called Dina Robin by Arab sailors. Portuguese explorers stumbled upon Mauritius in the wake of Vasco da Gama's voyage around the Cape of Good
Hope. In 1510, Portuguese navigator Pedro Mascarenhas visits the island
and names it Cirné. Cirné was used as a port of call, but the Portuguese did not establish a permanent settlement .


The Dutch claim the uninhabited island and named it after their prince, Moritz Van Nassau. The colony soon fails because of the dense forests on the island and a second
attempt is made to settle again in 1664. The second attempt does not work out and the Dutch leave permanently and so do our Dodos who have become extinct. However what remains are our sugar cane fields which were introduced from Java and eventually at one point became our primary industry; and deer which are nowadays greatly valued
for hunting and their meat.

 Places to explore:

● The National History Museum in Port Louis which holds the only skeleton of Dodos.
● Pieter Both Mountain named after a Dutch governor who died in 1615 in a shipwreck.

 THE FRENCH 1715 TO 1810

After the departure of the Dutch, the French East India Company claims Mauritius for France and renames it Ile de France. Settlement begins and Port Louis is
greatly developed by illustrious
governor, Mahé de Labourdonnais. Skilled Tamil workers are brought in to work on
Port Louis and the sugar cane industry develops further. The Napoleonic eras got the French to attack some British vessels and in 1810, the British successfully seize control of the island. British vessels and in 1810, the British successfully seize control of the island.

What remained: The Napoleonic Code of Law and the French language, the population of slaves brought from Africa whose descendents are known as creoles and some French descents of the colonisers along with the skilled Tamil immigrants. The creoles in turn introduced the Sega dance.

 Places to explore:
● Port Louis: The Government House and the Line Barracks
● Pamplemousses: The Chateau de Mon Plaisir
● Mahebourg: The Naval Museum with remains of the battle between the French and the
British. The whole city was founded by Charles Mathieu Isidore Decaen and named after Mahé de Labourdonnais.
● The very colourful Tamil temples
● Our hotels featuring the Sega dance which was devised by slaves as their only means of entertainment.

THE BRITISH 1810 TO 1968
In 1814, Mauritius, Seychelles and Rodrigues cedes to Britain under the Treaty of Paris. When the abolition of slavery occurs in 1835, an indentured labour system is introduced. Hundred of thousands of workers (hindus and muslims) come from India and some Chinese are brought to work in Mauritius. Other Chinese quickly settle in Mauritius as traders and introduce the sole trading businesses to the island. From1866-1868 a Malaria epidemic ravages Mauritius and kills more than 40,000 people after the Anopheles mosquito is accidently introduced on the island. In
1876, the Indian rupee becomes Mauritius’s official currency and Mahatma Gandhi visits Mauritius in 1912 after the indentured labour system is abolished in 1910. The architecture of Mauritius is enhanced with colonial houses made of wood and the British legacy extends to our administration and our System of Government which is based on the Westminster model. 

Places to explore:
● The Blue Penny Museum in Port Louis (in 1847 Incorrectly-worded Penny Black postage stamps are issued in Mauritius and they later become among the most soughtafter stamps in the world).
● The Citadel in Port Louis built by the British to guard the harbour.
● The Champs de Mars and Mauritius Turf Club founded in 1812, which is the first racecourse in the southern hemisphere and the second oldest in the world.


After World War 2, the British started losing grip on its colonies and with constitutional changes and powerful Mauritian leaders formed political parties working towards the Independence of Mauritius. In 1968, Mauritius became Independent.

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