People & Culture

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People & Culture

Mauritius owes its fame to sites of spectacular beauty, at the cost of forgetting that it is also an amazing melting-pot of cultures and traditions we now invite you to discover.


Mauritius is a densely populated island of around 1.2 million people. It is a plural society where all the ethnic groups present: Hindus, Muslims, Creoles, Chinese and Europeans live in peace and where all the ancestral cultures have been preserved. These features make the island a unique place in the world.

Most Mauritians are bilingual being equally fluent in French and English. English is the official language, but French and Creole are widely spoken. Oriental languages also form part of the linguistic mosaic.

While many countries claim they are cosmopolitan, only a few really qualify. Mauritius is one of the rare authentically cosmopolitan societies. Where else could so many towns and villages boast of a Catholic church, a Muslim mosque, and a Hindu temple within walking distance from each other?

The British became very interested in the island in the early eighteenth century because it provided the perfect transit for ships en route to India. The British eventually won the island over from the French in 1810. British rule was essentially administrative and the French colonists were allowed to stay. Things did not change much for the unfortunate African slaves until, yielding to the pressure of abolitionists, the colonists emancipated them in the 1830s-40s. To make up for this sudden labour shortage, the British brought indentured labourers from India (mainly Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Gujarat) to the island. Within a few decades, people of Indian origin were a majority in the island.

The early twentieth century also saw the arrival of Chinese settlers (Hakka and Cantonese) who sought their fortune in retail trade. Mauritius earned its independence from Britain, following political disquiet in the 1960s. Since then the country has been under a constitutional rule particularly attentive to the political representation of the minorities and to their equal access to healthcare, education and employment. If anything, the twenty-five odd years since independence have seen a consolidation of ethnic identities, never, however, at the expense of the unity of the nation.

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