Mauritius is a
tropical island in the Indian Ocean. It is situated in the south of the
equator and just north of the Tropic of Capricorn. It is about 800 km to
the east of Madagascar. Rodrigues and Reunion are the islands which,
with Mauritius are known as the Mascarenes Archipelago. Mauritius is
1,864 sq. Km (720 square miles) in area and at the end of July
2004, had a population of approximately 1,233,669.
Mauritius is surrounded by
beautiful white sandy beaches, blue lagoons, palm trees and coral reefs.
The beauty of the island is overwhelming. Those who love nature will be
absolutely astonished by the magnificence of the mountains, nature
reserves and wildlife parks.
Mauritius achieved independence on the 12 March 1968 with Seewoosagur
Ramgoolam (later Sir) as the Prime Minister and in 1992, it became an
independent republic within the commonwealth. The flag of Mauritius
consists of four equal width horizontal stripes. In descending order,
these are red, blue, yellow and green.
The colours have been interpreted as: Red for freedom and independence,
Blue for the Indian Ocean, Yellow for the light of independence shining
over the nation, Green for the agriculture of Mauritius.
Anyone and everyone would feel
at home in Mauritius. The people (Mauritians) are of different
nationalities: Indians, Africans, Europeans and Chinese. The
Indo-Mauritians are divided into three groups: Hindus, Tamils and
Moslems. They are all united and live in peace with each other. The
people are full of charm, very courteous and helpful.
The official language of
Mauritius is English but the real language of the people is Creole which
is understood and spoken by all Mauritians, whatever their mother
tongue. Though, strange but true, it is neither taught in schools not
officially recognised as a language, and has no popular written form.
The Creole language evolved from the pidgin used by the French masters
of the 18th century to communicate with their slaves, also borrowing
words from African and Malagasy dialects. French is also widely spoken.
The main mother tongue of the country's largest ethnic group is Hindu.
Tamil was actually the first Indian language spoken in Mauritius.
Mauritians have their own brand
of music and dancing which is known as the Sega. It is believed to have
come from Africa. It is a wild, sensual dance inherited from the slaves
who expressed their feelings of sadness, fears, hopes and expectations
in the form of song and movement. It is traditionally perfumed by pairs
of the opposite sex.
The mixture of the island's
various races is reflected in the Mauritian cuisine: spicy curries,
tropical fruits and vegetables, chinese and European food.
Many religious festivals are
public holidays and each culture has been very well preserved without
allowing one to swamp the other.Festival of Pere Laval is celebrated by
Roman Catholics, Cavadee by the Tamils, Maha Shivaratree and Ganga Asnan
by the Hindu, Chinese Spring Festival by the Chinese, Divali (Festival
of light) by the Hindus and Tamils, Eid-Ul-Fitr by the Moslem.
Mauritius enjoys a tropical
climate which can be divided into two seasons: summer and winter. The
hot summer months are from November to April with temperatures of up to
35 degrees centigrade on the coasts. The winter months are from May to
October with temperatures of up to 25 degrees centigrade with cooler
The crest of Mauritius reflects
its past more than its present, flanked by a dodo and a stag, both
clutching shoots of sugar cane. The shield portrays a medieval ship,
presumably representing the island's discoverers, and three stylistic
trees. There are also a key and a shining star, depicting the country's
motto which appears below it: STELLA CLAVISQUE
Glory to thee, Motherland,
O motherland of mine.
Sweet is thy beauty,
Sweet is thy fragrance,
Around thee we gather
As one people,
As one nation,
In peace, justice and liberty.
Beloved country, may God bless thee
For ever and ever --------------------------------------