History Of Mauritius

History Of Mauritius

While walking around the streets of Mauritius, you may come across a Hindu temple, a mosque, a church, or even a pagoda. Its 1.3 million people are descended from Indian indentured workers, slaves, traders, and European immigrants who landed here in the past. Mauritius was colonised successively by the Netherlands, France, and the United Kingdom until gaining independence on March 12, 1968. Learn more about the fascinating history of Mauritius.

Visit by Arabs

The Arabs are thought to have been the first to find Mauritius in the 9th century AD. Dina Robin was the name given to the island. From then until the arrival of the Portuguese in the early 16th century.  Diogo Fernandes Pereira, a Portuguese navigator, was the first European known to land in Mauritius. He named the island “Ilha do Cisne” (“Island of the Swan”)

The island was only known to pirates and buccaneers who spent their time out in the Indian Ocean. In truth, records show that when the Portuguese came, they claimed the island was deserted. The Dutch were the first to make an actual attempt at settlement.

Dutch Colonisation (1538 – 1710)

The island was named Prince Maurice de Nassau by the Dutch when they landed in 1638. Despite two attempts to colonise the island, from 1638-1657 and again from 1664-1710, the Dutch were unsuccessful and eventually abandoned the island to pirates. 

French Colonisation ( 1715 -1810)

After the Dutch left, the French took over Mauritius in September 1715. The island was named ‘Isle de France’ by Guillaume Dufresne D’Arsel. The French governor Mahé de La Bourdonnais arrived in 1735 to develop the island, establishing Port Louis as a naval base and shipbuilding centre.

Slaves from East Africa and Madagascar were transported to labour on the plantations. Governor Bertrand François Mahé de La Bourdonnais established Port Louis, which would become the capital, in 1721.

Because of its location in the Indian Ocean, the island quickly became a profitable colony, serving as a port of call for ships sailing from Europe to the Far East around the Cape of Good Hope.

British in Mauritius Colonisation ( 1810 – 1968)

Things began to alter in the early 17th century, when the British captured Mauritius in 1810. Four years later, the Treaty of Paris, which guaranteed the preservation of certain French features of life, solidified British possession.

Even now, French is more widely spoken than English. The island’s name was changed back to Mauritius by the British. Because the British abolished slaves in Mauritius in the year 1835.

The newly freed slaves refused to labour on sugar plantations. In order to meet the demand for labour, indentured labourers from India were brought here. Between 1835 and the First World War, an estimated half a million workers were imported to Mauritius.

Towards an Independent  Mauritius

In the 1920s, tensions began to escalate between the Indian community, which was largely made up of sugar cane labourers, and the Franco-Mauritian population. This resulted in conflict and many deaths, the majority of which were Indians. In 1936, the Mauritius Labour Party was formed in response to this tension in order to protect the interests of workers. Elections for the newly formed Legislative Assembly were held by 1947. These elections were the first step towards self-rule, and the Labour Party won them, marking the first time that a Francophone was not in control.

The independence movement gathered traction in 1961 and finally Mauritius gained independence in 1968. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam was appointed as the country’s first Prime Minister. Ramgoolam received the United Nations Prize for the Defence of Human Rights in 1973 for his handling of ethnic conflicts on the island between Muslims and Creoles. The Constitution was revised in 1991 to make Mauritius a republic within the British Commonwealth, which took effect on March 12, 1992.

Mauritius has become a great African success story by sustaining a stable democracy and a commitment to human rights since independence. The economy has grown significantly during the last 30 years, shifting from being fuelled by agriculture to expanding and diversifying. This growth is being fueled in part by the rise of premium tourists. Today, this island nation is a popular tourist destination for those seeking more than the typical tropical paradise. Originally viewed as a stopover en way to Africa, Mauritius is truly coming into its own as a luxury travel destination, thanks to its natural beauty, cultural diversity, and interesting attractions.

Mauritius Today

Today Mauritius has a rich cultural and historical legacy as a result of its diverse population. Mauritius has come a long way, from fusion cuisine to the establishment of the mother tongue Creole. Visitors can pay their respects at historical locations such as the Aapravasi Ghat in Port Louis to learn more about the enslaved labourers and their struggle.

Another noteworthy landmark in Mauritian history is Le Morne Brabant, where the distinctive mountain was previously utilised as a refuge for runaway slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries. Both sites are designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Visitors interested in colonial warfare can consider visiting the Mahebourg Historical Naval Museum, while those interested in the legendary Dodo and Mauritius’ geology should consider visiting the Natural History Museum in Port Louis.