Mauritius - The Jewel of the Crown in the Indian Ocean

Mauritius is situated in the Indian Ocean, approximately 2400 kilometres off the South East Coast of Africa.
 
The island, which is of volcanic origin, covers an area of 1,865 square kilometres or 720 square miles.
 
Coral reefs surround most of the coast except the south.
 
The average temperature during day time is 25° C (75° F) and rarely under 13° C (62° F) at night.
 
There are two seasons. Hot from November to April. Warm from May to October.
 
 
 
 
 
Mauritian Cuisine

Mauritian Cuisine

As an indication of the sureness of taste of Mauritians, consider that despite having been under British rule for 150 years, the people have remained quite impermeable to British cuisine! They had the good sense of looking up to Chinese, French and Indian cuisines for inspiration instead! There is also a distinct Indian-Ocean cuisine, in which the tomato-based "rougaille" features prominently. Mauritian cuisine is a medley of these cuisines adapted for local availability of vegetables and meats. The bryani Mauritian-style can be quite remote from the Pakistani original. Unlike Indian curries, the Mauritian curry uses fresh tomatoes. And if French "fricasses" are popular, they can be of ... bats! As for the "naked noodles" (mines touni), they can come as a surprise to Chinese chefs!
 
If seafoods are a favourite of yours, then don't forget to treat yourself to the "Millionaire's salad" of oysters, shrimps, crayfish, crabs, Rosenbergi prawns, served with "sauce rouge" and the heart of a palm tree!

Trochetia Flower

Trochetia Flower

Trochetia Boutoniana (Boucle d'Oreille) was declared the National Flower on the 12th March 1992, when Mauritius achieved the status of Republic. Named after the famous French botanist, Louis Bouton, it is endemic to Mauritius and is found in only one locality in the wild. It is a magnificent shrub reaching about 2-3 metres in height, with reddish-orange flowers. Adapted to dry condition, it commonly flowers from June to October.
 
Flowers of Mauritius - Trochetia
The flora of Mauritius harbours many unique and beautiful species. The Trochetia is a genus of shrubs and small tress which have spectacular flowering. They are endemic to the Mascarene Islands and consist six species out of which five are found in Mauritius and one in Reunion Island.
 
All species bear simple hermaphrodite white, pink or reddish flowers which are either single or in clusters of three. Their preferred habitat is the windward exposed mountainous slopes. Specimen of Trochetia are found in the collection of the Natural History Museum in Paris and the Kew Gardens in the United Kingdom.

History

History

The first Europeans to have visited Mauritius were the Portuguese at the beginning of the sixteenth century (most probably in 1510). The Dutch who settled in the island in 1598 named it Mauritius after Prince Maurice of Nassau. Among other things, the Dutch introduced sugar cane and the Java deer before leaving in 1710 where they had found in the mean time a far better settling place: The Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. About five years later, in 1715, the French occupied the island, renaming it "Isle de France".
 
It was under the French Governor, Mahé de Labourdonnais, that Mauritius knew its first development: a harbour was built. Port Louis, named after the ruling king Louis XV, became the capital of Mauritius. Trade on the island thrived; Mauritius could supply enough sugar and rum to the surrounding islands and visiting vessels.
 
From this strategic position in the Indian Ocean, the French were plaguing English vessels on their way to and from India. In 1810, the British conquered the island which they occupied, and Mauritius was formally ceded to them in the "Traiti de Paris" of 1814. Most of the French settlers, remained on the island and were allowed to keep their customs, religion and laws.

Culture

Culture

While many countries claim they are cosmopolitan, only a few really qualify. Mauritius is one of the rare authentically cosmopolitan societies. Where else could so many towns and villages boast of a Catholic church, a Muslim mosque, and a Hindu temple within walking distance from each other? And if you are lucky, you might even find a Chinese pagoda in the vicinity! One little-known cemetery at Bambous hosts a burial ground with a Muslim and a ... Jewish section!
 
A little history helps explain this peculiar mix. The French took over the island from the Dutch settlers (notorious for having eaten the Dodos down to the very last!) around 1715. The French brought over slaves from Africa (particularly from Senegal, Guinea, Mozambique and Madagascar) to work in the sugar-cane plantations. The Mauritian Creole, now in quasi-universal use on the island, probably evolved during those years as some sort of lingua franca between slaves and masters.
 
The British became very interested in the island in the early eighteenth century because it provided the perfect transit for ships en route to India. The British eventually won the island over from the French in 1810. British rule was essentially administrative and the French colonists were allowed to stay. Things did not change much for the unfortunate African slaves until, yielding to the pressure of abolitionists, the colonists emancipated them in the 1830s-40s. To make up for this sudden labour shortage, the British brought indentured labourers from India (mainly Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Gujarat) to the island. Within a few decades, people of Indian origin were a majority in the island.
 
The early twentieth century also saw the arrival of Chinese settlers (Hakka and Cantonese) who sought their fortune in retail trade. Mauritius earned its independence from Britain, following political disquiet in the 1960s. Since then the country has been under a constitutional rule particularly attentive to the political representation of the minorities and to their equal access to healthcare, education and employment. If anything, the twenty-five odd years since independence have seen a consolidation of ethnic identities, never, however, at the expense of the unity of the nation.

Geography & Climate

Geography & Climate

Mauritius is an island with surface area of 720 square miles, situated just above the Tropic of Capricorn, in the south of Indian Ocean, with 57° 35 East longitute and 19° 68 and 20° 15 South latitude. Being of a volcanic origin, Mauritius has a central plateau which is about 400 metres above sea level. Mountains scattered throughout the island, tropical forests and plants are other feathers that add to the natural beauty of the island. With more than 90 miles of white sandy beaches and the transparent lagoon are protected from the open sea by the world's third largest coral reef which almost surrounds the island.
 
LANGUAGES
English is the official language. French is understood most over the island. Creole is spoken throughout the island.
 
CURRENCY 

The Mauritian unit of currency is the rupee (Rs), which is divided into 100 cents (c). There are coins of 5, 10, 20, 25, and 50 cents, and Rs 1, 5 and 10. The bank note denominations are in 25, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 2000 rupees. updated rates on other Currency Exchange Voltage -- 220 volts
 
DRIVING
On the left with priority to the right.
 
CUSTOMS

Passengers of 16 years and over are allowed the following duty free: -- 1. 250 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco. -- 2. 1 litre of spirits and 2 litres of wine, ale or beer. -- 3. A small quantity of perfume and about 25cl of eau de toilette. A permit must be obtained for plants, flowers, fresh fruits or pets.
 
TAX
Airport service charge: Rs 300 to be paid at the Airport by embarking passengers. Airport tax coupons can be bought along with your air ticket prior to departures.
 
CLIMATE
Tropical; warm, dry winter (June to September); hot, wet, humid summer (October to May). Sea temperature : Winter 22° C (71° F)
 
On the whole, our climate is fairly acceptable to everybody, the temperature ranges are:

Summer (November to April): 27° C (80° F) on the Coast to 23° C (73° F) on the Central Plateau. 

Winter (May to October): 21° C (70° F) on the Coast to 17° C (63° F) on the Central Plateau. 
Hours of Daylight approx. from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Summer and from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Winter. 
July is the Coolest Month 22° C (71° F).
February is the Warmest Month 28° C (83° F).