Our Island – Mauritius

History

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The island of Mauritius had for a long time remained unknown and uninhabited. It is believed to have been discovered by Arab sailors during the Middle Ages, and appears on maps from around 1500, under the Arabic name `Dina Arobi’. The Portuguese sailor Domingo Fernandez Pereira was probably the first European to land on the island at around 1511.

In 1598, a Dutch squadron, under the orders of Admiral Wybrand Van Warwyck, landed at Grand Port and named the island “Mauritius”, in honour of Prince Maurice Van Nassau, “Stathouder” of Holland.

Abandoned by the Dutch, the island became a French colony when, in September 1715, Guillaume Dufresne D’Arsel landed and took possession of this precious port of call on the route to India. He named the island “Isle de France”, but it was only in 1721 that the French started their occupation.

After gaining independence on 12th March 1968 from the British, Mauritius experienced significant growth and development across various sectors. Embracing its newfound autonomy, the nation embarked on a path of economic diversification, focusing on industries such as tourism, agriculture, manufacturing and financial services. With its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, Mauritius became a sought-after destination for international tourists, leading to a boost in the hospitality sector and contributing to the country’s economic prosperity.

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Additionally, Mauritius established itself as a regional hub for finance and investment, attracting foreign investors and fostering a conducive environment for business growth. The government implemented policies to promote entrepreneurship and innovation, leading to the emergence of a vibrant startup ecosystem and bolstering the country’s reputation as a centre for technological advancement in the region.

Socially, Mauritius continued to prioritise education and healthcare, investing in infrastructure and programs to improve access to quality services for its citizens. Efforts were made to promote social cohesion and multiculturalism, celebrating the diverse ethnic and religious communities that contribute to the nation’s identity.

People and Culture

The people and culture of Mauritius reflect a vibrant tapestry woven from diverse ethnic, cultural, and religious threads. With roots tracing back to Africa, Europe, India, China and beyond, the Mauritian population is a melting pot of different traditions, languages and customs. The warmth and hospitality of the Mauritian people are evident in their welcoming nature, as they embrace visitors with open arms and a genuine sense of camaraderie. Creole, French, English, Hindi, Urdu, Tamil and mandarin and cantonese are just some of the languages spoken on the island, reflecting its rich linguistic diversity.

Culturally, Mauritius is a kaleidoscope of festivals, music, art, dance and local and international cuisine. From the vibrant colours of the Holi festival celebrated by the Hindu community to the mesmerising beats of Sega music and dance, which originated from African slaves, the cultural landscape of Mauritius is a vibrant mosaic of traditions and celebrations. The annual Cavadee festival, celebrated by Tamil Hindus, is a testament to the island’s religious diversity, featuring elaborate rituals and processions that captivate both locals and visitors alike.

Mauritian cuisine is a delectable fusion of flavours and ingredients, influenced by the culinary traditions of South Asia, East Asia, Africa and Europe. From mouthwatering curries and biryanis to savoury dholl-puris and gateaux piments (chilli bites), the island’s gastronomic offerings are a testament to its multicultural heritage. Seafood also plays a prominent role in Mauritian cuisine, with freshly caught fish and shellfish served in a variety of delightful dishes, from grilled octopus to bouillabaisse-inspired seafood stews. Beyond its cultural and culinary delights, Mauritius is also known for its strong sense of community and unity. Despite the diversity of its population, Mauritians have forged a collective identity rooted in shared values of tolerance, respect and solidarity. This spirit of togetherness is exemplified in the way Mauritians come together to celebrate festivals, support one another in times of need and cherish their shared heritage. In essence, the people and culture of Mauritius embody the island’s motto, “Stella Clavisque Maris Indici” (Star and Key of the Indian Ocean), as they shine brightly as a beacon of multiculturalism, diversity and harmony in the region.
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Economy

The Mauritian economy is characterised by its remarkable resilience, diversification and steady growth trajectory. As a small island nation in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius has transitioned from a primarily agrarian economy to one driven by a diverse range of sectors, including tourism, manufacturing, financial services, agriculture and information and communication technology (ICT). Tourism plays a pivotal role in the Mauritius’ economy, with the island’s pristine beaches, lush landscapes and vibrant cultural heritage attracting millions of visitors annually. The tourism sector contributes significantly to employment generation, foreign exchange earnings and infrastructure development, making it a cornerstone of the Mauritian economy.

In addition to tourism, manufacturing has emerged as a key driver of economic growth, with Mauritius becoming a hub for textiles, apparel and light manufacturing industries. The country’s export processing zones (EPZs) have attracted foreign investment and fostered the development of export-oriented industries, contributing to job creation and industrialisation.

Moreover, Mauritius has positioned itself as a leading financial services centre in the region, offering a wide range of banking, insurance and investment services. The country’s stable political environment, sound regulatory framework and attractive tax incentives have attracted international investors and positioned Mauritius as a gateway for investment into Africa and beyond. Furthermore, the government has prioritised diversification and innovation, investing in sectors such as ICT, sustainability and renewable energy and agribusiness to drive economic development and create new opportunities for growth. Despite facing challenges such as limited natural resources and vulnerability to external shocks, Mauritius has demonstrated remarkable resilience and adaptability, leveraging its strategic location, skilled workforce and entrepreneurial spirit to build a dynamic and competitive economy poised for continued success in the global marketplace.