Mauritius

Capital: Port Louis, Population: 1,26M, Currency: Mauritian Rupee

History

Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) off the southeast coast of the African continent. Formerly a Dutch colony (1638–1710) and a French colony (1715–1810), Mauritius became a British colonial possession in 1810 and remained so until 1968, the year in which it attained independence.

The people of Mauritius are multiethnic, multi-religious, multicultural and multilingual. The island's government is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system, and Mauritius is highly ranked for democracy and for economic and political freedom. Mauritius is the only country in Africa where Hinduism is the largest religion. The government uses English as its main language.

Bibi Ameenah Firdaus Gurib-Fakim, is a Mauritian biodiversity scientist who has served as the President of Mauritius since 2015. She served as the Chairperson the International Council for Scientific Union – Regional Office for Africa (2011–2014). Gurib-Fakim has also been the recipient of various international awards including the L'Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science (2007), Laureate for the National Economic and Social Council (2007), the CTA / NEPAD / AGRA / RUFORUM for ‘African Women in Science’ and the African Union Award for Women in Science.

Culture

  • The culture of Mauritius involves the blending of several cultures from its history, as well as individual culture arising indigenously.

  • Official statistics on ethnicity are not available, as such questions were removed from the population census in 1972. Mauritius is a multi-ethnic society, drawn from Indian (mostly Bihari), African, Chinese and European (mostly French) origin.

  • An officially secular state, Mauritius is a religiously diverse nation, with freedom of religion being enshrined as a constitutional right. The culture of the Mauritian people is reflected in the various religious festivities that are celebrated throughout the year, some of which are recognized as public holidays. According to one estimate Mauritians spend an average of more than 700 hours per year engaging in religious activities.

 

Language

  • In Parliament, the official language is English; however, any member of the National Assembly can also address the chair in French. English and French are generally accepted as the official languages of Mauritius and as the languages of government administration, courts, and business. The constitution of Mauritius is written in English, while some laws, such as the Civil code, are in French.

  • The Mauritian population is multilingual; while Mauritian Creole is the mother tongue of most Mauritians. The Creole language, derived mainly from French (a French-based Creole) with influences from the other dialects, is spoken by the majority of the population and is the country's native language.

  • French and English are favoured in educational and professional settings while Asian languages are used mainly in music, religious and cultural activities. The media and literature are primarily in French.

Food

  • The cuisine of Mauritius is a blend of Creole, Chinese, European and Indian influences. It is common for a combination of cuisines to form part of the same meal.

  • Traces of both Northern and Southern Indian cuisine can be found in Mauritius. Some common preparations are curry, chutney, rougaill and pickles, most of which use local ingredients. The Mauritian versions of those dishes have a local flavour and differ, at times considerably, from the original Indian recipes.

  • The production of rum is common throughout the island. Sugar cane was first introduced on the island when the Dutch colonised it in 1638. Even then, the propensity of making rum out of sugar cane was strongly recognised. Sugar cane was mainly cultivated for the production of "arrack", a precursor to rum. Only much later, after almost 60 years, the first proper sugar was produced.

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