Behind its beautiful palm trees and other turquoise lagoons, the tropical island of Mauritius has a rich history that will not fail to amaze you…
The first written traces of the history of Mauritius date back to the fifth century with many navigators, merchants and pirates passing by who came there regularly. First, visited by Arab sailors who named it “Dinarobin” (the Silver Island) in the tenth century it did not take long to be assailed by the Portuguese who was in transit during their trip to Zanzibar devastating the native turtle population. They called it “Ilha do Cirne” (Swan Island) in 1507, two years after its rediscovery by Pedro Mascarenhas, after which is named the Mascarene archipelago.
The virgin island was first colonized by the Dutch who will stay there only briefly. They renounced to the process of colonization in 1658, because of calamities and bad weather, leaving behind only a few ruins, the name of the country and the legend of the poor dodo, symbol of this lost paradise; it is then the French who showed interest to the tropical island.
The French imprint
Indeed, in 1715 and coming from Reunion Island (formerly Bourbon Island) the French claimed the island and imported most of the fauna and flora that we know today. In 1735, Bertrand François Mahe de La Bourdonnais, captain of the East India Company, was appointed by Louis XV “Governor of the Bourbon Islands and France” and decided to name Port Louis, capital of the island of France at the expense of South Port which was too exposed to the trade winds.
Thereafter, he enabled the development of the naval industry, the construction of a hospital, a sugar factory and the road network of the island.
At this time, the wild tropical island then became a prosperous colony and had 60 000 inhabitants. But the man who is also called “the father of the island”, Mahé de La Bourdonnais, died in 1753.
The spectacular development of the island is such that it fuelled the greed of the British. The latter finally took possession of the island in 1810, not without having suffered a defeat at the famous battle of the Grand Port, the only naval victory of Napoleon on the English fleet.
Mauritius is actually ceded to the English by the Treaty of Paris in 1814 as Rodrigues and Seychelles. Reunion Island, meanwhile, remains French. Robert Farquhar, the first British governor, develops the road network but it is the sugarcane cultivation that really takes off: 250 sugar refineries work in the middle of the 19th century.
However, the end of the nineteenth century proved to be difficult. The island faced many obstacles such as violent weather, fires and epidemics.
The French and the English had introduced slaves from Africa and Madagascar to the island, but also workers from China and India, and their descendants are still living in Mauritius today.
Independence of Mauritius
Slavery was abolished in 1835 and it was finally on March 12, 1968 that Mauritius obtained its independence.
Following the abolition of the English monarchy, the island was proclaimed Republic of Mauritius in 1992.
And it is Barlen Vyapoory who is the acting President since March 2018.