Over recent years, the island nation of Mauritius has become synonymous with the jet setting elite. For many, it’s idyllic beaches of white sand and stunning blue ocean make it the dream holiday destination as over time the name alone has begun to conjure images of decadence and stunning natural beauty. Yet there is more to this fascinating island than luxury holidays, as Mauritius has a rich and varied history and lives on today as one of the wealthiest of the African nations.
Mauritius island, the base of the Republic of Mauritius and the basis for all the glorious holiday perceptions, is situated in the Indian Ocean around 900m kilometers east of Madagascar. The Republic also includes the nearby islands of Rodrigues, St. Brandon and the Agalega Islands, which are also popular tourists destinations, though not quite as well known as mainland Mauritius itself.
Mauritius and it’s fellow islands is also part of a larger group of islands known as the Mascarene Islands (sometimes referred to as Mascarenhas Archipelago). These islands were formed some 10 million years ago due to geographic activity, which broke them from the main African continent. The Mascarene Islands are renowned for their geographic and volcanic activity, both of which contribute to the stunning scenery and classic beaches that Mauritius is famous for.
The island of Mauritius was first claimed by the Dutch, a fleet of whom were blown off course during a voyage to the Spice Islands and were blown off course. They named the island after Prince Maurice of Nassau, a name which still exists today. However, the Dutch inhabitance swiftly came to an end due to Mauritius’s notoriously difficult weather patterns and the island returned to native glory until the French claimed it in 1715. The French held control of the island until the Napoleonic Wars, when it was won by the British.
There were some conditions of the French surrender, however, which are still in play today. The island was to remain French-speaking and the Law of France be applied to criminal and civil matters. While French is still recognized as one of the national languages, the predominant language spoken is England.
Mauritius gained independence in 1968, and became officially recognized as a republic within the Commonwealth in 2002. However, the French and British never quite forgot about the 2,040km2
island, and have returned ever since as tourists.
Despite a slightly chequered past in which Mauritius was fought over by various European countries, today it basks and flourishes in the glory of independence. The country boasts a stable democracy, with elections held every five years. The head of state is the President, currently Anerood Jugnauth, while the country is lead by Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam. Mauritius also has an excellent human rights record, as well as the 18th lowest population density in the world.
The Mauritian culture is something to be savored, with traditional African flair mixing with the British and French influences from history. It remains one of the most pleasant, simple places on earth, making it an ideal destination for any beach seeker but also for anyone looking for a little tranquility.