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HISTORY OF MAURITIUS 

Ilha do Cerne

When Vasco da Gama succeeded in rounding the Cape of Good Hope in 1498, many Portuguese expeditions went in his wake and sailed the Indian Ocean. An old map dating back to 1502, is the oldest on record so far, indicates the presence of the Mascarene islands in this region of the world.
In 1507, Domingo Fernandez Pereira named the uninhabited Island ‘Ilha do Cerne’, (Swan Island). The Portuguese made no settlements, apart from occasional stops to fix damaged ships.

Languages
English is the official language, French and creole are the commonly used. Persons working in the tourism industry are trained to speak in German, Italian, and Spanish.

Time
Mauritius is four hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and three hours ahead (2 hours in summer) of mid-European Time.

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Seasons

Summer November to April
The weather is hot and humid with peaks in temperatures occurring in the months of December, January and February which implies that you can celebrate Christmas and New Year under the stars. Rainfall is abundant, especially on the central plateau.
The highest rainfall normally occurs in the months of February and March. Daylight lasts between 05 h30 and 19 h 00. This is the best time for scuba diving (December to March) and for deep sea fishing (October to April).
The cyclonic season extends from November to April. Most of the time, the cyclones manage to miss Mauritius because of the small size of the island. However, if they come close enough, the bad weather may affect the vegetation and certain wooden buildings. Please rest assured that beach resorts have been constructed in such a way as to resist the strong winds.

Winter May to October
The temperature is cooler. During this season, the prevailing winds blow over the island from the East and South-East. The lowest temperatures are felt in August (20°C on the coast). The day lasts between 06 h 45 and 17 h 45. This is the best season for surfing (June to August).

Dina Arabi
The History of Mauritius began in the sixteenth century. The Island remained uninhabited until 1638, despite several visits by Arab, Portuguese and Dutch people. The Arabs who were sailing the Indian Ocean in dhows in the year 1000, discovered the Mascarene Islands (Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues) and named Mauritius Dina Arabi (deserted Island).

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Culture
The culture of Mauritius involves the blending of several cultures from Mauritius's history, as well as individual culture arising indigenously.
Mauritius is a multicultural country, but some have observed that it is not yet a nation where people look more in the direction of the land of their forebearers and fail to come to terms with the reality in which they face everyday life. And yet the country has, in essence, its own language (Mauritian or Mauritian Creole) and a thriving literature in that language, its own music and dance (the sega), a special cuisine - it's the land where miscegenation is rich and vibrant but there is a view that the root searching ideology of those in power tries to shroud what is most progressive in the cultural landscape.

Economy
The Mauritian economy is based essentially on four pillars: textile, sugar, tourism and the services sector. Sugar exports were for a long time the main source of foreign exchange before its importance diminished with the diversification of the economy. The increasing development of the business and financial services sectors, and the emergence of the communication and information sector, together with the exploitation of marine resources (the seafood hub), should in future develop into the main engines of growth.

Mauritius 
In August 1810, a British squadron attacked the French Fleet at Vieux Grand Port. The battle of three days ended in a British defeat. In November the British landed at Cap Malheureux with 70 ships and 10 000 troops. On December 3rd, French Governor Charles Decaen, surrendered to the British and negotiated a very hounourable capitulation. The long struggle for the supremacy in the Indian Ocean had ended. The British allowed the French to keep their way of life, whilst slavery was abolished in 1835. Indentured labourers were brought in from India, traders from China to help in the development of the Island. The 20th century started amidst a brisk political emancipation of all the communities and Mauritius became independent on the 12th March 1968 and proclaimed a Republic on the 12th of March 1992.

Visa requirements
Tourists from the European Union and from most Commonwealth countries do not require a visa to spend their holidays in Mauritius. Visitors must however hold a passport that is valid at least six months after their date of return as well as a return ticket and enough financial resources to cover their expenses for their holidays.

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Ile de France
Capitaine Guillaume du Fresne D’Arsal (1688-1730), claimed the island for France in his expedition in 1715 and re named it ‘Ile de France’, and the Noord-Wester Haven was renamed Port Louis in the honour of the King Louis XV. The colony really started to take shape with the arrival of the Governor Mahé de la Bourdonnais in 1735. Isle de France witnessed a rapid development during the twelve years of the Governor’s administration, specially Port-Louis and when Labourdonnais left Isle de France in 1747, the island had become an important naval base and the capital of the East India company in the Indian Ocean.

Geological Origin
Mauritius is a ‘great mass of volcanic matter’ (Darwin). Mauritius is of an area of 1865 km², with 330 km of coastline almost surrounded by coral reefs, a vast central plateau and mountains. The broken ring of coral reef that fringes Mauritius provides shelter to a spectacular variety of marine life. The stone-like surface of these reefs was formed by calcareous deposits secreted by successive generations of coral polyps.The central plateau, at an altitude of about 600 m, is studded with dormant volcanic craters with intertwined rivers and waterfalls.The central plateau is hedged by three mountain ranges made up of masses of basalt with fantastic shapes, evidence of the volcanic origin of the island. Several peaks emerge from these chains, e.g. Piton de la Rivière Noire (828m), Pieter Both (823m) and the Pouce (812m). 

Mauritius
Then, the Dutch launched themselves on the commercial conquest of the East, guided and encouraged by Maurice Van Nassau, they built a strong merchant navy which grew into one of the most powerful mercantile forces in the world in the 17th century. Admiral van Neck and Vice Admiral Wybrant Warwijck landed on the Ilaha do Cerne in 1598 and named it “Mauritius’ in honour of Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange (1567-1625), the Stadhouder of the seven Provinces of the Netherlands. The Dutch occupied the island between 1638 and 1658 and the again from 1664 to 1710. During their occupation they brought in sugar cane from Java together with deer and pigs. After 1640, the first slaves were also brought into Mauritius from Madagascar to help the settlers with the tobacco and sugar cane plantations and the felling of ebony trees. The giants birds (Dodos) and turtles were very popular amongst the Dutch settlers for food.