Lonely Planet Mauritius

Mauritius, Reunion and the Seychelles
by Tom Masters
  This is the only guide to give detailed and practical coverage of these Indian Ocean jewels. It contains a special chapter on the world-class diving and snorkelling this region is renowned for. It features top activity coverage in and out of the water, including a dedicated 2 - colour Hiking in Reunion chapter. It includes a new full-colour feature with recommendations, tips and cultural insights from locals. More information and prices from:
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Mauritius (Globetrotter Travel Guide)

Mauritius (Globetrotter Travel Guide)
by Martine Maurel
  Mauritius has long been a prime holiday destination with its balmy climate, splendid beaches, coral reefs and translucent lagoons. This guide provides information on the island's history, topography, climate, economy, vegetation, flora, fauna, bird life and its beautiful underwater life. A place of great ethnic diversity, the traditions of the different cultures are highlighted, as well as the major festivals, crafts and island architecture. Major tourist attractions, the main towns and beach resorts are covered; as are special-interest areas, water sports and scuba diving.
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History of Mauritius

Inland Mauritius

Inland Mauritius

Arab sailors knew of the island's existence as early as the 10th Century and the Portuguese navigator Pedro Mascarenhas found it in 1505. The first settlement took place in 1598 when the Dutch took possession and named it after the Statholder, Prince Maurice of Nassau. James Pope-Hennessy (1964) offers the following account:

'One of the peculiarities of the history of Mauritius is that there never have been any indigenous Mauritians. For countless centuries the lonely haunt of the dodo, the giant tortoise and the fruit-eating bat, Mauritius was apparently known to the Phoenicians and almost certainly visited by the barques of the Arabs and the Malays. But it was not until the late fifteenth century that one of Vasco da Gama's captain's landed on the island from his ship The Swan. He christened his discovery the Island of the Swan and, since he himself was named Mascarenhas he called the whole scattered group of islands which he came upon in the Indian Ocean the Mascareignes. The Portuguese seem to have found no particular use for the Island of the Swan and made no serious efforts at colonisation.'

The Dutch initially used mauritius as a source of food and water for their ships but, in 1638, they constructed a small fort in the south of the island. From here the great navigator Tasman set out for Australia and the island of Tasmania, named after him. According to James Pope-Hennessy:

'Dutch sailors returning from Java brought the Mauritius deer and sugar-cane. During the period of the Dutch occupation (which ended in 1710, when they withdrew) the dodo, an artless bird which could not fly and did not understand the carnivorous nature of human beings, became extinct, the Dutch eating all the birds and the little pigs the Dutch brought into the island eating all the dodos' eggs.'

The French were the next to take over the island in 1715. They named it l'Ile de France and it became a prosperous French colony. The British invaded in 1810 when the island was already planted with large estates and Port Louis was a sophisticated and well-planned town. Gradually, the island became bilingual in French and English and the British brought in large numbers of workers from South Asia to replace the slave labour employed by the French.

Mauritius was granted independence in 1968 and became a Republic within the Commonwealth in 1992. It is a multi-party democracy.