Facts about Mauritius

We found 25 facts about Mauritius

The island whose worldwide fame was brought by two postage stamps

Mauritius, the pearl of the Indian Ocean, is a paradisical corner known not only for its white beaches and azure lagoons but also for its extraordinary cultural richness and natural diversity. Located east of the African continent, this island oasis entices travelers with its exotic charm, breathtaking landscape, and history interspersed with influences from various cultures.

Indians, Chinese, and Africans, as well as descendants of Europeans who inhabit it, co-create a mosaic of cultures expressed in traditions, religion, music, art, and cuisine. Mauritius also surprises with its natural diversity - green hills, majestic volcanoes, crystal clear lakes, and exotic flora and fauna.

The history of Mauritius is a tale of colonization, power struggles, and cultural mixing. Initially an uninhabited island, it became an arena of struggle between the Dutch, French, and British, before eventually gaining independence. Traces of this turbulent past can be seen in monuments, museums, and traditions.

Today, Mauritius ranks high in economic and political freedom, is the only African country that is fully democratic, and has a high human development index.

Mauritius, officially the Republic of Mauritius, is an island country in the Indian Ocean.

It is about 2000 kilometers off the southeast coast of East Africa and about 900 kilometers east of Madagascar. The country consists of several islands belonging to the Mascarene Archipelago. The archipelago includes the islands of Réunion (an overseas department of France), which accounts for 56% of the archipelago’s land area, Mauritius, Rodrigues, and the Cargados Carajos Shoal, consisting of dozens of islands and islets.

In addition to the island of Mauritius itself, the Republic of Mauritius also includes the island of Rodrigues, the Cargados Cerajos Shoal (also known as Saint Brandon-an archipelago of 21 islands and islets), and the Agaléga (two islands with a total area of 26 square kilometers).

The total area of the Republic of Mauritius, consisting of the island of Mauritius, Rodrigues, and several other islets, is 2040 square kilometers.

The island of Mauritius is the largest of the islands that make up the Republic of Mauritius, with an area of 1864,8 square kilometers. The island is surrounded by more than 150 kilometers of white sandy beaches and the world’s third-largest coral reef. A short distance from the island are some 49 uninhabited islands and islets, several of which serve as nature reserves for endangered species.

The island is relatively young geologically, having been formed by volcanic activity some eight million years ago. The entire Mascarene Archipelago was formed by giant eruptions of submarine volcanoes thousands of kilometers east of Africa and Madagascar. No longer volcanically active, the current volcanic hotspot is located under the island of Réunion.

Mauritius is an upland island with altitudes ranging from 300 to 800 meters above sea level.

The terrain rises from the coastal plains to the central plateau, where it reaches an altitude of 670 meters. The island’s highest peak, Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire at 828 meters above sea level, is located in its southwestern part. It forms part of the Black River mountain range.

There are two other mountain ranges in Mauritius: the Moka-Port Louis and Grand Port-Savanne. The Moka-Port Louis range includes the peaks of Pieter Both (820 meters above sea level) and Le Pouce (811 meters above sea level), the second and third highest peaks respectively. Both are more famous than the Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire in the southwest.

Located near the Tropic of Capricorn, Mauritius has a tropical climate.

It has two seasons: a warm, humid summer from November to April, with an average temperature of 24.7 degrees Celsius, and a relatively cool, dry winter from June to September, with an average temperature of 20.4 degrees Celsius. The warmest months are January and February. Although there is no distinct rainy season, most rainfall occurs during the summer months. There are occasional tropical cyclones, usually between January and March, which bring torrential rains.

Mauritius ranked second in an air quality index published by the World Health Organization in 2011.

The autonomous outer island of Mauritius is Rodrigues.

It is an island of volcanic origin, 560 kilometers east of Mauritius. Its area is 109 square kilometers. The island was once the tenth district of Mauritius, it gained its autonomous status in 2002. The island’s residents (more than 41.000 people lived there in 2014) are Mauritian citizens, and most of them are of African descent.

The capital of the island is Port Mathurin located on the northern coast. The city serves as the administrative, judicial, and economic center of Rodrigues. It is also the island’s main port. The city is home to the island’s only bus station, as well as a nearly two-meter-tall statue of the Virgin Mary erected in the hills of Pointe Canon. The statue is a landmark of the capital and a gathering place for the island’s Catholics, as well as a tourist and historical site (the statue was unveiled in 1954).

Rodrigues was named after Portuguese explorer Diogo Rodrigues, who first arrived on the uninhabited island in 1528.

He arrived under the command of Portuguese viceroy Pedro Mascarenhas (after whom the archipelago is named). The Mascarenes are known to have been visited by Arabs since the 10th century (a 12th-century map by Arab geographer Ash-Sharif al-Idrisi probably includes them).

Because the island lay far off the beaten trade routes, it was rarely visited, In 1601, the Dutch arrived there, and in 1691, French naturalist and Huguenot explorer François Leguat and seven companions landed on Rodrigues intending to establish an agricultural colony. The intention, however, failed.

In the 18th century, the French tried to develop the island. They brought in African slaves (ancestors of the current population) to develop cattle ranching and agriculture. British troops occupied the island in 1809 and abolished slavery in 1834.

In 1883, the eruption of the Indonesian volcano Krakatau was heard at Rodrigues.

Rodrigues remains the farthest point nearly 4800 kilometers away where the explosion was heard. The sound was described as “the roar of heavy guns.” Navy ships were ordered to investigate the incident, as it was feared that the sound was caused by cannons being fired by the threatened ship.

The noise caused by the eruption of the Krakatau volcano is described as the loudest sound in history.

In 1897, a lone sailor named Joshua Slocum spent eight days on Rodrigues Island.

Joshua Slocum was the first person to circumnavigate the world alone. In 1900 he wrote a book about his voyage, A Lonely Voyage Around the World, which became an international bestseller.

Of particular interest is the Rodrigues coral reef.

It is self-sown and does not receive coral zooplankton from other sources. It is thus poor in species, but the existing ones show very good adaptation. Coral species, two species of Pomacentrus (a genus of marine damselfish in the Pomacentridae family), and many species of crustaceans are found only on Rodrigues reefs.

Mauritius is home to a diverse flora and fauna not usually found in such a small area.

Contributing to this is the island’s volcanic origin, its age, its isolation, and its unique terrain. Some of the rarest plants and animals in the world are found there, but human interference with nature, human habitats, and the introduction of alien species, have threatened the native flora and fauna. Before the arrival of the Portuguese to Mauritius in 1507, there were no land mammals on the island. This allowed many flightless birds and large reptile species to evolve. The arrival of humans there resulted in the rapid destruction of habitats and the consequent extinction of much of the endemic flora and fauna.

A particularly conspicuous example of this is the extinction of the endemic flightless dodo bird, which figures in the coat of arms of Mauritius.

The first mention of the dodo came from Dutch sailors in 1598.

The newcomers and the invasive species they imported hunted the bird while destroying its habitat. The last sighting of the dodo was in 1662. Its extinction was not immediately noticed, some considered the bird’s existence a myth.

The dodo (Raphus cucullatus), an endemic flightless bird found in Mauritius, became extinct less than a century after its discovery. This drew attention to man’s role in the extinction of entire species. Today, the dodo is often used as a symbol of extinction and aging. It has also become a fixture in pop culture thanks to Lewis Carroll’s novel, Alice in Wonderland where the bird appeared.

The only endemic mammal found in Mauritius is the Mauritius flying fox (Pteropus niger).

It is also known as the Mauritius fruit bat or Greater Mascarene flying fox. Its role in the ecosystem is extremely important, as it involves pollination and seed dispersal. The diet of the Mauritian flying fox consists mainly of fruits.

The original forests of Mauritius have been almost completely cleared - today lass than two percent of the native forests remain.

They are concentrated in the Black River Gorges National Park in the southwest, the Babmous mountain range in the southeast, and the Moka-Port Louis ranges in the northwest. More than 100 species of plants and animals are extinct, and many more are endangered.

Almost all of the plants growing in Mauritius today were once brought by colonists.

Mauritius has a well-developed river network.

Unlike other island countries, the number of rivers and streams is impressive. This is due to abundant rainfall. The rivers tend to be short and rapid, and the streams are rushing. The main rivers in the country are: Rivière des Creoles, Rivière du Rempart, and Rivière Tamarin, which is a tributary of the country’s largest lake, Mare aux Vacoas.

All of the rivers flow into the Indian Ocean.

The mainstay of agriculture in Mauritius is the cultivation of sugarcane.

Its plantations cover about 45 percent of the island. Cane sugar production on the island is one of the main sources of employment in Mauritius.

Mauritius has one of the highest per capita incomes in Africa.

Contributing to this was the stable political situation after independence in 1968, which attracted a large number of foreign investors to the island. Mauritius is one of the most economically liberal countries in Africa.

Mauritius is one of twenty-five countries in the world without an active armed force.

Such a state existed since 1968. The former military airport in the southeastern part of the island has been converted into a civilian international airport Political, security, and military functions are performed in Mauritius by the Mauritius Police Force (MPF), which employs about 12.500 officers.

Crime in Mauritius is very low.

Mauritius is on the “black list” of tax heavens.

A thorough reform of the national economy to diversify revenue sources based on light industry, finance, and tourism has made Mauritius a country with stable economic growth. In recent years, the country has emerged as a major center of the region, with importance for trade and investment, as well as financial and tourism services. Mauritius is regarded as a business-friendly oasis, with liberal economic and tax regulations.

In 2016, the World Bank ranked Mauritius 1st among African countries and 32nd in the world for ease of doing business. It ranks 8th among 178 countries in the ranking of free-market economies in the world.

The country’s tax law allows external entities with foreign capital to establish companies. Mauritius’ reputation as a tax asylum is mainly due to its high level of protection of confidential information on company shareholders and strong restrictions on the exchange of information with other tax administrations. The OECD lists Mauritius among countries with harmful tax competition all the time.

Mauritius has the second highest population density in Africa.

As of 2020, it had a population of 1.3 million, with a population density of 624 inhabitants per square kilometer. Mauritius has no indigenous population, as it was an uninhabited island before colonization. Today, about two-thirds of the population (68 percent) are Indo-Mauritians (they come from the Indian subcontinent). A large part, 27 percent, are Creoles, or descendants of slaves from Africa and Madagascar, mixed with other groups, especially Europeans. About three percent are Sinomaurites of Chinese origin, and about two percent are the white minority French-Mauritians.

There is no mandatory official language there.

The Constitution only mentions that English is the official language of the National Assembly, although the President can also be addressed in French. Both languages are the languages of government administration, the courts, and business.

The Constitution of Mauritius is written in English, and some laws, such as the Civil and Criminal Codes, are written in French.

The population of Mauritius is multilingual, but the mother tongue of most residents is Mauritian Creole, derived from French, <Most are also fluent in English and French, and depending on the situation, switch seamlessly between languages during conversations.

The most widespread religion is Hinduism.

It is professed by about 48.5 percent of the population. About 32.7 percent of the population professes Christianity, most of whom are Catholics. Muslims make up about 17.3 percent of the population and are mostly Sunni.

Women in Mauritius gained the right to vote in 1947.

That’s when the Constitution extended the right to vote to all women and men over the age of 21 who could write and read. Previously, the right to vote applied only to the elite.

Homosexuality is prohibited by law on the island.

The morality article stipulates a penalty of up to five years in prison for same-sex sexual relations.

Left-hand traffic on the roads there is mandatory.

This is a remnant of the English colonial era.

Mauritius is widely known for its first series of stamps - the Red and Blue Mauritius.

The Red and Blue Mauritius are the first two stamps of the British crown colony of Mauritius. They were issued on 21st September 1847, and this fact made Mauritius the seventh postal territory to issue stamps.

These two postage stamps of one and two pence are referred to as the Mauritius Post Office. Both are considered by philatelists to be among the rarest and most valuable stamps in the world. 500 stamps with Queen Victoria’s likeness were printed using the intaglio printing technique.

In 1981, 27 surviving copies of these stamps were known worldwide: 12 “Blue Mauritius” and 15 “Red Mauritius” pieces. The Blue Mauritius far surpassed the popularity of the Red. The so-called “Bordeaux letter” with both stamps was the most expensive philatelic collector’s item in the world until 2014. Since then, it has only been surpassed by British Guiana One-Cent Black on Magenta.

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