The Fascinating History of Mauritius.

Mauritius 2


Mauritius is located in the Indian Ocean and is a small island nation. The island was first discovered by Arab sailors as early as the 10th century, though it wasn’t until the 16th century when the Portuguese first visited the island. The Dutch were the first to colonize the island in 1638 but abandoned it in 1710 as it wasn’t economically profitable. The French took over thereafter, and the island was named Île de France, becoming the central point for trade between Asia and Europe. The British took over the island in 1810 during the Napoleonic Wars and later, on March 12, 1968, Mauritius gained its independence from Great Britain.

Arab Influence

The Arab sailors were the first to discover the island and dubbed it Dina Arobi, but it wasn’t until later that it became known as Mauritius. The Arab sailors’ influence on the island can still be seen today in the local language and cuisine. The dance traditional to Mauritius, the Séga, also has its roots in Arab culture.

Dutch Colonization

The Dutch Empire was one of the most powerful of the time, and they saw Mauritius as a potential commercial center. They colonized the island in 1638 and named it Mauritius, after Prince Maurits of Nassau. The Dutch brought sugar cane to the island, but it wasn’t a major success as the soil and climate weren’t favorable. The Dutch decided to abandon the island in 1710, leaving the island unsettled for a few years.

French Colonization

France colonized Mauritius in 1715 and named the island Île de France. They established Port Louis as the capital city of the island, and it quickly became a crucial center for trade between Asia and Europe. The French introduced coffee, sugarcane, and indigo to the island, and with favorable climate conditions, they successfully started producing sugar on a large commercial scale. The French created many plantations and brought slaves from Africa to help with the production. Vestiges of French culture, such as the French language, can still be seen throughout the island.

British Rule

Mauritius became a British colony after the French surrendered the island to Great Britain in 1810 during the Napoleonic Wars. The British empire enacted many changes, which included education, healthcare, and infrastructure, and they continued to expand the sugar industry, leading Mauritius to become the world’s leading sugar exporter. Slavery was abolished in 1835, and many Indians were brought over to Mauritius to work on the plantations, as there was a shortage of labor. This infusion of Asian culture can still be seen throughout the island, even today.


After years of struggle, Mauritius finally gained its independence from Great Britain on March 12th, 1968. Since then, the country has enjoyed political stability, economic growth, and has become one of the most prosperous countries in Africa. The island nation is now a democratic country, and its economy has diversified beyond sugar production, with tourism and financial services being important sectors. Despite its small size, Mauritius has grown to be a significant player on the global economic stage.


Mauritius is an island located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar. The island was formed as a result of volcanic activity about 8 to 10 million years ago. The first known settlers on the island were the Arab sailors who named it Dina Arobi.

In 1507, the Portuguese navigator Pedro Mascarenhas rediscovered the island and named it Ilha do Cirne. The Dutch were the first to colonize the island in 1598 and they named it Mauritius after their ruler, Prince Maurice of Nassau.

The Dutch established a colony on the island and introduced sugar cane as a cash crop. They also brought in slaves from Africa and Madagascar to work on the sugarcane plantations. However, due to the harsh conditions, many of the slaves died, and the Dutch decided to abandon the island in 1710.

French Period

French Period

In 1715, the French East India Company took possession of the island and named it Isle de France. The French established Port Louis as their capital and developed the island’s economy through the cultivation of sugarcane, cotton, and indigo.

Under the French, the island prospered and became an important trading center. They also brought in slaves from Africa and Madagascar to work on the plantations. The French also introduced new crops such as coffee, tea, and cloves.

The French period ended in 1810 when the British took control of the island.

British Period

British Period

The British took control of Mauritius in 1810 during the Napoleonic Wars. They abolished slavery in 1835, which led to an influx of indentured laborers from India to work on the sugarcane plantations. The Indians arrived in large numbers between 1834 and 1921, which dramatically changed the island’s demographics and culture.

Under British rule, Port Louis became a cosmopolitan city with a diverse population. The British developed the island’s infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and ports. They also introduced new crops such as tea, tobacco, and sisal.

In 1968, Mauritius gained independence from Britain and became a republic in 1992.



After gaining independence, Mauritius faced numerous challenges, including high unemployment and a lack of natural resources. However, the government implemented policies to promote economic growth and development.

The government diversified the economy and focused on developing tourism, textiles, and information technology. They also implemented a free-market economy and attracted foreign investment.

Today, Mauritius is a prosperous and stable democracy with a high standard of living. The island is known for its beautiful beaches, tropical climate, and diverse culture. The economy is dominated by the service sector, with tourism being the primary source of foreign exchange.


Mauritius has a rich and diverse history that has shaped its culture, economy, and society. The island has been colonized by the Dutch, French, and British, and has experienced periods of prosperity and hardship. However, the island has emerged as a prosperous and stable democracy with a high standard of living. Mauritius is an example of how a small island nation can overcome adversity and achieve economic success.

Key figures

Mauritian history has been shaped by the actions of a number of significant individuals who have played crucial roles in the island’s development. These key figures represent a diverse range of backgrounds and professions and have contributed to different aspects of Mauritius’ cultural, economic, and social growth.

Mahe de Labourdonnais

Mahe de Labourdonnais was a French naval officer who served as Governor of Mauritius from 1735 to 1746. During his tenure, he introduced a number of reforms that transformed the island into a prosperous colony. He established a number of new settlements, built a network of roads, and encouraged agricultural development, particularly the cultivation of sugarcane. He also constructed the first French fort on the island, Fort Bourbon, which still stands in the capital city of Port Louis today.

Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam

Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam was a Mauritian politician and independence activist who is widely regarded as the father of the nation. He played a key role in Mauritius’ struggle for independence from Britain and served as the country’s first Prime Minister from 1968 until 1982. During his time in office, he oversaw a period of significant economic and social progress, including the expansion of the education system and the introduction of healthcare reforms. He is revered by many Mauritians and his image appears on the country’s currency.

Indira Gandhi

Although not a Mauritian, Indira Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India, played a significant role in shaping the island’s history. In the 1970s, she sent a team of experts to Mauritius to help the country establish a cooperative sugar industry that would be controlled by the local population. This initiative, known as the State Trading Corporation of Mauritius, has been a major driver of the island’s economy ever since, providing employment for thousands of people and generating significant income for the government.

Sir Anerood Jugnauth

Sir Anerood Jugnauth is a former Mauritian politician who served as the country’s Prime Minister on three separate occasions, from 1982 to 1995, from 2000 to 2003, and from 2014 to 2017. During his long and distinguished career, he oversaw a number of important developments, including the establishment of Mauritius as a hub for international finance and the promotion of tourism as a key economic sector. He also played a leading role in international diplomacy, representing Mauritius at a number of high-profile events, including the United Nations General Assembly.

Pandit Sahadeo

Pandit Sahadeo was a spiritual leader and social activist who played a key role in advancing the rights of the Indo-Mauritian community. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Hindu Council of Mauritius, which has since become one of the country’s most important religious organizations. He also played a leading role in the fight against discrimination and helped to pave the way for greater social and economic equality for minorities in Mauritius.

Paul Octave Wiehe

Paul Octave Wiehe was a prominent journalist, writer, and politician who served as Mauritius’ first Minister of Education from 1961 to 1967. During this time, he oversaw the establishment of a national education system that provided free education for all Mauritians. He was also involved in the struggle for independence and played a key role in shaping the country’s early political landscape. Today, he is regarded as one of the most influential figures in the country’s history, and his legacy endures in the fields of education and journalism.

Social, cultural, or political context

Mauritius, located in the Indian Ocean, has a rich history that has been shaped by several factors including its social, cultural, and political context. Here are some of the important topics related to Mauritius social, cultural, or political context:

Early Inhabitants

The first inhabitants of Mauritius were the Austronesian people who arrived around 2000 years ago. They brought with them their culture and way of life. In the 16th century, Arab traders arrived on the island, followed by the Portuguese in the early 17th century. The island was officially colonized by the Dutch in 1638 and they introduced sugar cane to the island. They also brought slaves from Madagascar and Asia to work on the sugarcane fields. The island was later colonized by the French in 1715 and then the British in 1810.

Slavery and Indentured Labor

The Dutch, French, and British colonizers brought slaves from Madagascar and Africa to work on the sugarcane fields. This practice of slavery continued until 1835 when slavery was abolished. After the abolition of slavery, the British brought in indentured laborers from India to work on the sugarcane fields. These laborers were under a five-year contract and were treated poorly. They weren’t allowed to leave the plantations or marry without the permission of their employers. The indentured labor system in Mauritius continued until 1924.

Religion and Culture

Mauritius is a multicultural society, and this is reflected in its many religions and cultural practices. The majority of people on the island practice Hinduism, followed by Christianity and Islam. There are also small communities of Buddhists, Sikhs, and Bahá’ís. The island has a unique blend of cultures that resulted from the mixing of different ethnic groups over the centuries. This blend is reflected in the island’s music, dance, and cuisine.

Political History

Mauritius gained its independence from Britain in 1968 and became a republic in 1992. Before independence, there were political movements advocating for self-rule. The Mauritian Labour Party (MLP) was one of the first political parties to emerge in the country in the early 1940s, and it played a major role in the country’s move to independence. In the years following independence, the country experienced political instability due to power struggles between different political parties. However, since the adoption of a new constitution in 1992, the country has had stable democratic governance.

Economy and Development

Mauritius has one of the most competitive economies in Africa. The country has shifted from an agricultural-based economy to a more diversified economy that includes tourism, manufacturing, and financial services. The country has also invested heavily in education and has a high literacy rate. The development of the country has been spurred on by the government’s emphasis on economic liberalization and attracting foreign investment.

Environmental Challenges

Mauritius is facing several environmental challenges including deforestation, soil erosion, and pollution. Deforestation and soil erosion are major environmental issues that affect the island’s biodiversity and contribute to soil degradation. Pollution, particularly from plastic waste, is also a serious environmental issue that is threatening marine life and the tourism industry. The government has put in place policies to address these environmental challenges, including the ban on plastic bags and the implementation of reforestation programs.

International Relations

Mauritius is a member of several international organizations, including the African Union, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the United Nations. The country has good relations with other countries in the region and has been an active participant in peacekeeping efforts on the African continent. The country has also developed strong economic ties with the European Union, United States, and China.

In conclusion, Mauritius has a rich history that has been shaped by several factors, including its social, cultural, and political context. The island’s unique blend of cultures has resulted in a vibrant society that is reflected in its music, dance, and cuisine. The country has also faced several challenges, including the legacy of slavery and indentured labor, political instability, and environmental challenges. Despite these challenges, the country has made significant progress in terms of economic development and democratic governance.

Impact and significance

Mauritius, an island nation located in the Indian Ocean, has a rich and diverse history that has shaped its present-day society and culture. The island has been inhabited since ancient times, with evidence of early human settlements dating back to around 10th century AD. Over the centuries, Mauritius has been subject to colonization by various European powers, slavery, indentured labor, and struggles for independence. The impact and significance of these events have been profound and have contributed to the formation of Mauritius as an independent nation.


The first Europeans to visit Mauritius were the Portuguese in the early 16th century. They named the island “Ilha do Cirne” (Island of the Swan) but did not establish a permanent settlement. The Dutch later arrived in the 17th century and named the island “Mauritius” after Maurice of Nassau, the Prince of Orange. They established a colony and introduced sugar cane and other crops to the island. The Dutch East India Company ruled Mauritius until 1710 when they abandoned the island.

The French then arrived in Mauritius in 1715 and established a colony. They brought in African slaves to work on sugar plantations and transformed the island into a flourishing plantation economy. The French also established a system of governance which laid the foundation of Mauritius’ legal and administrative institutions. However, they were plagued by power struggles, wars, and economic problems. The British seized control of Mauritius in 1810 during the Napoleonic Wars and maintained colonial rule over the island till 1968.

The impact of colonization on Mauritius was vast. It brought about significant demographic changes, where the island’s original inhabitants (the Dodoth and other Polynesian peoples) were displaced by European settlers, African slaves, and Indian laborers. These groups came from different parts of the world, and their cultures, religions, and languages mixed to produce a unique, multicultural society that is evident in Mauritius today. It also transformed the island’s economy from a resource-based economy to an agricultural economy that became a significant supplier of sugar to European markets.


Slavery played an important role in the colonization of Mauritius. The French and later British brought African slaves to the island to work on sugar, coffee, and other plantations. Slaves were treated brutally, subjected to inhumane living conditions, and denied all civil and political rights. The abolition of slavery in Mauritius in 1835 marks one of the most significant events in the island’s history. The end of slavery meant that the slaves were given their freedom, and an opportunity to start new lives. However, the end of slavery also caused a severe labor shortage on the island, which led to the importation of indentured laborers from India.

The impact of slavery on Mauritius is still visible in the country today. The descendants of African slaves have been able to establish themselves as an integral part of Mauritian society, and their culture has been preserved in art, music, and dance. The end of slavery also led to the rise of trade unions and workers’ rights in Mauritius.

Indentured labor

The arrival of indentured laborers from India marked a significant turning point in the economic and social history of Mauritius. Between 1834 and 1922, over half a million Indians were brought to Mauritius to work on the island’s sugar plantations under five-year contracts. The indentured laborers were recruited from various parts of India, including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh.

Indentured labor had a significant impact on Mauritius’ economy. The laborers were employed primarily on sugar plantations, which led to a significant increase in sugar production and export. The laborers were also responsible for cultivating food crops and helped build the country’s infrastructure. However, the indentured labor system was exploitative and inhumane, with workers subjected to poor living conditions, low wages, and long hours.

The impact of indentured labor is still visible in the demographics of Mauritius today. The Indian laborers and their descendants form the largest ethnic group on the island, and their culture has had an immense impact on the country’s music, dance, food, and religious practices. They have also contributed to shaping the country’s economy, politics, and social life.


Mauritius gained independence from British colonial rule on March 12, 1968. The country became an independent state within the British Commonwealth, with Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam appointed as the country’s first Prime Minister. Independence marked a significant milestone in Mauritius’ history and paved the way for political and economic reforms.

The impact of independence on Mauritius has been immense. Mauritius has emerged as one of the most stable and prosperous democracies in Africa. It has built a robust economy based on manufacturing, finance, and tourism, with a focus on building local industries and attracting foreign investment. The country has also invested in education, healthcare, and social welfare programs, resulting in significant improvements in the standard of living and human development indicators. Mauritius has become a model for economic and social development in Africa, and its success has been attributed to good governance, political stability, and a focus on inclusive growth.

In conclusion, Mauritius’ history is a story of struggle, hardship, and resilience. The island has overcome numerous challenges, including colonization, slavery, and indentured labor, to emerge as a proud and independent nation. The impact and significance of these events are evident in Mauritius’ unique culture, diverse society, and prosperous economy. Today, Mauritius is a symbol of hope and progress for the people of Africa and the world.

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