35 Interesting Facts About Mauritius

  1. Mauritius is an island country in the Indian Ocean, nearly 500 miles east of Madagascar. It also shares maritime borders with France (Reunion) and Seychelles.
  2. Mauritius consists of the island of Mauritius and three outlying territories: Rodrigues Island, Agalega Islands (two islands located 600 miles north of Mauritius), and Saint Brandon (also called Cargados Carajos Shoals). Two islands of Mauritius (Mauritius and Rodrigues) and Reunion (a French overseas department) are collectively known as the Mascarene Islands.
  3. The land area of Mauritius is 2040 sq. km, and more than 90% of this area consists of the island of Mauritius. The disputed EEZ (exclusive economic zone) of the country is 2.3 million sq. km due to its claim on the Chagos Archipelago (UK) and Tromelin Island (France).
  4. Arabs were the first to discover the uninhabited islands of Mauritius during or before the 10th Century. Portuguese were the first Europeans to visit the country during the 16th Century, but they did not try to inhabit these islands.
  5. The Dutch took possession of unpopulated islands in 1598. They named it Mauritius after Maurice, the Dutch prince of Orange and count of Nassau (the capital of Bahamas). They tried to settle these islands but remained unsuccessful, forcing them to leave in 1710.
  6. France took possession of the uninhabited islands of Mauritius in 1721 and renamed it Ile de France. They brought African slaves and started sugar plantations, resulting in prosperity and permanent settlement on these islands.
  7. The British captured these islands in 1810, and France accepted their sovereignty after the Treaty of Paris in 1814. The British restored its name to Mauritius. However, they did not try to change the French language and laws.
  8. The British abolished slavery in this colony in 1835 and replaced slaves with indentured laborers from India for sugar plantations. They brought nearly half a million Indian laborers until the early 1920s.
  9. The Chagos Archipelago (including the Diego Garcia atoll) was part of Mauritius in the past. In 1965, the British transferred these islands to the British Indian Ocean Territory, a newly created administrative unit that included islands of another colony, Seychelles. In 1976, the British returned the islands to Seychelles after its independence but retained the control of the Chagos Archipelago due to its strategic importance. Mauritius still claims the sovereignty of these islands. 
    A military base on Diego Garcia
    Britain has an important military base on Chagos

  10. Mauritius also claims sovereignty over Tromelin Island, a French Overseas Territory in the Indian Ocean, due to its absence in the 1814 Treaty of Paris. In 2010, France and Mauritius agreed to manage this tiny island jointly.
  11. Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, became a strategic port between Europe and Asia after its foundation in 1736. However, its significance decreased after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. The port partially regained its importance during the closure of the Suez Canal between 1967 and 1975.
  12. Mauritius gained independence from Britain in 1968. After 24 years, the country became a republic in 1992.
  13. After independence, Mauritius adopted the Best Loser System (BLS) to ensure representation of all ethnic groups in its parliament. Under this system, candidates are selected in parliament based on their community or race according to an established procedure.
  14. Mauritius is the only African country with full democracy. It is also the single country in the continent scoring very high in HDI (human development index). (Source)
  15. An area in southern Mauritius is known as the Seven Colored Earth Geopark due to its unique display of seven distinct colors (red, yellow, brown, green, blue, purple, and violet). It is the only known place in the world to have seven different colors and types of soil. These colorful sands remain separate even if mixed, while their erosion is slow despite heavy rainfall in Mauritius. Tourists cannot visit this 8.5-hectare geopark and can only view this spectacular soil from a distance. (Source)
  16. There is an illusion of an underwater waterfall on the coast of the Le Morne Peninsula in Mauritius. The illusion of the water falling into the depths of the sea is due to the continuous movement of sand and silt sediments. This tourist attraction is completely safe for swimming and surfing. (Source)
  17. Nearly 67% of the Mauritian population is descendants of Indo-Pakistani laborers who arrived here during the 19th and earlier 20th Century. The second-largest ethnicity (around 25%) is Creole (mixed French and African). The remaining population has Chinese or French ancestry.
  18. English is the official language of Mauritius, but more than 80% of Mauritians speak Creole (a French-based language). Minority languages with a sizable number of speakers are Bhojpuri (an Indo-Aryan language) and French.
  19. Around 49% of the Mauritian population follows Hinduism, making it the only African country with a Hindu majorityChristianity (33%) and Islam (17%) also have many adherents in this religiously diverse country.
  20. In July 2020, a Japanese cargo ship caused the worst ecological disaster in Mauritius by spilling 1,000 metric tons of oil off the coast of Mauritius. This damage can result in irreversible damage to the region’s marine life, particularly coral reefs. Scientists warn that the recovery of this damage can take decades. (Source)
  21. Coral reefs surround nearly 150 km of the coast of Mauritius. These reefs protect the shoreline from waves and storms. Two main rivers provide hydroelectric power to the country, while Lake Vacoas is the primary source of water for Mauritians.
  22. Mauritius is one of the smallest countries in Africa, but its population density is highest in the continent. More than 240 people reside per square kilometer in this island country. (Source)
  23. There are no terrestrial native mammals in Mauritius, while the only native mammal species are bats and marine mammals. However, humans have introduced several mammals in the country, such as rats, deer, mongooses, etc.
  24. The Dutch introduced macaque monkeys from Southeast Asia to Mauritius around 1602. These monkeys have played a prominent role in the extinction of native birds, orchids, and trees. However, the Mauritian government has also taken advantage of these monkeys through their export to Europe and the USA for research. The country is one of the largest exporters of monkeys, exporting around 10,000 macaques annually. (Source)
  25. Around 57% of native tree species (second-highest in the world after Madagascar), 28% of native fruits, and 7% of seeds in Mauritius are on the brink of extinction due to the removal of large native animals. These native animals, such as dodos and giant tortoises, were vital for the spread of large seeds but became extinct after the arrival of invasive animals in the past 400 years. The remaining native animals are small for these plants, while the introduced animals (macaques, pigs, and rats) are destroying instead of spreading their seeds. The Mauritian flying fox and the Mauritian bulbul are the only native animals capable of dispersing large seeds. (Source)
  26. The most famous extinct animal is the dodo, a native bird of Mauritius. The primary reason for its extinction in 1681 was hunting by humans and their introduced animals. The scientists have planned to de-extinct dodo by using genomes of the dodo, its extinct relative (the solitaire), and the closest living relative (the Nicobar pigeon). (Source
    A dodo
    Dodo was a native flightless bird of Mauritius

  27. The pink pigeon is a native bird of Mauritius. Its numbers reduced from tens of thousands to just 10 in the late 20th Century after the introduction of predators (cats, rats, mongoose, and macaques) by humans. Conservation efforts have now increased their numbers to around 500 birds in the wild and zoos. However, scientists fear they can still be extinct within a century due to inbreeding. (Source)
  28. In 1983, India planned to intervene militarily in Mauritius to prevent a possible coup by a pro-Soviet and pro-minority leader (Paul Berenger) against the then pro-Indian and pro-Hindu Prime Minister (Anerood Jugnauth). Though India failed to launch any military operation, the coup did not happen. This Indian adventure in Mauritius is known as Operation Lal Dora. (Source)
  29. Mauritius is one of the few countries without any active military. However, the country has a small paramilitary force and coast guards.
  30. Mauritius is the most peaceful country in Africa. According to the 2023 GPI (Global Peace Index), Mauritius is the world’s 23rd most peaceful country. (Source)
  31. Primary and secondary education in Mauritius is free. The literacy rate (around 90%) in this African country is one of the highest in the continent.
  32. Mauritius has achieved an impressive economic development, known as the “Mauritian miracle.” The average annual GDP growth of the country between 1969 and 2013 was 5.3% compared to 3.8% in sub-Saharan Africa. The Mauritian economy was dependent on the agriculture sector, particularly the sugar industry, at its independence. However, the country soon achieved prosperity by diversification of its economy and moving from an agricultural to an industrial economy.
  33. Mauritius is the most economically free country in Africa, scoring 70.6 out of 100. The reasons behind this position are its well-developed financial sector, diversification of the economy, and political stability. (Source)
  34. Mauritius has also achieved the top position in Africa for ease of doing business index. Its global rank is 13 due to business-friendly regulations. (Source)
  35. There are two UNESCO World Heritage sites in Mauritius. Aapravasi Ghat (2006) and Le Morne Cultural Landscape (2008) are cultural sites. Both are relevant to the status and struggles of slaves in the country before independence.

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