The Mauritian flag:

The colours of the flag of Mauritius are those that appear in the coat of arms dating back to 1906.
The flag was adopted in 1968 upon achieving independence from Britain who had ruled the island since 1815.
The colours have various interpretations as to the meanings, but are all fairly similar.
Red is said to represent the island's martyrs;
blue, the Indian Ocean;
yellow, the country's bright future;
green, the lush vegetation.

Other source claim the red stands for the country's independence,
or the liberation struggle and the blood spilt in it's struggle,
the yellow is said to represent the country's freedom,
as mentioned, all are variations on the same theme.

..A brief history from the early discovry of the island to the present day...
The Mascarenes...
The country includes the island of Mauritius; the island of Rodrigues to the east; the Agalega Islands to the north; and the Cargados Carajos Shoals to the northeast. The small volcanic island of Mauritius remained unsettled until the 17th century.

More than 1.1 million people, descendants from India, Africa, Europe, and China, now claim the island as their home. Although Mauritius was initially discovered by Arab seafarers, European colonialism and mercantile economic forces later brought colonists, soldiers, slaves, indentured labourers, and traders to the island, resulting in a remarkably diverse mixture of people and cultures. In recent years, Mauritius has transformed itself from an obscure sugar plantation colony into a major European tourist destination boasting a strong, rapidly expanding and diversifying economy overseen by a stable, democratic political regime.

PRECOLONIAL HISTORY
Given its proximity to Madagascar, it has been suggested that proto-Malagasy (early Indonesian settlers) reached Mauritius en route to the larger island. However, there is no direct evidence to support such claims. Arab traders were clearly among the first to reach Mauritius. The renowned geographer Al Sharif El-Edrissi drew a map in 1153 that clearly demarcated the island of Mauritius with the name Dina Mozare. According to some sources, he named the island Domingo Fernandez after himself, but later changed it to Ilha do Cirne (Island of the Swan).

Mauritius, Reunion, and Rodrigues were named the Mascarene Islands after the Portuguese captain Pero Mascarenes.

DUTCH RULE
Admiral Van Warwijk took possession of the island for the Dutch Crown in 1598, renaming it Mauritius after the stadhouder (governor) of the Netherlands, Maurice of Nassau. Not until 1638 did the Dutch attempt to settle Mauritius. Twenty years later the colonists abandoned their fledgling settlement, after hunting the famous dodo bird to extinction. In 1664 the Dutch returned to Mauritius in a second attempt to establish a permanent colony but failed to make the settlement a profitable venture and left the island once again in 1710. When the Dutch departed, they left behind slaves, sugarcane, deer, rats, and monkeys, all of which they had introduced.
FRENCH RULE
In 1715 Dufresne d'Arsel laid claim to Mauritius for Louis the XV, renaming it Ile de France. However, settlement efforts would wait until 1722, when the French East India Company assumed administrative control of the island. For the next 13 years, the colony made little progress toward establishing a productive, viable community. With the arrival of Mahé de Labourdonnais in 1735, however, Ile de France began to flourish. Labourdonnais oversaw the construction of the harbour during the 11 years of his administration, setting the stage for Port Louis to become the bustling urban center of the Mascarene Islands. He introduced manioc (cassava) from Brazil to ensure a reliable food source. Labourdonnais also advocated the establishment of sugar as the island's main cash crop, entrusting the construction of the first local sugarcane factory to his brother. By 1786 the island boasted ten sugar factories, but it was not until the next century that sugar would dominate the economy.
The population of the island grew exceptionally diverse. To build the port and shipping yard, Labourdonnais brought a rchitects and skilled workmen from Madras, India, while dock workers and sailors came from Pondicherry, India. Large numbers of slaves were brought from Mozambique, Madagascar, and Kilwa, and a smaller number from India and Malaya. Used in every aspect of the economy, from agriculture to the shipping industry, slaves greatly outnumbered the rest of the population from the colony's inception.
Several governors succeeded Labourdonnais and the colony's population continued to grow. After the Seven Years War (1756-1763), the French East India Company sold Ile de France back to the French Crown and it remained a Crown Colony until the French Revolution. In 1790 news of the Revolution reached Ile de France, along with a call to form a legislative assembly. Colonists were unprepared to accept the 1794 decree that outlawed slavery. When members of the revolutionary government arrived in Ile de France to enforce compliance, they were expelled under threat of violence. Ile de France remained semi-autonomous until the arrival of Charles Mathieu Isidore Decaen in 1803, appointed governor by Napoleon. Although Decaen began enforcing Napoleonic law, slavery remained in full force until 1810, when the British invaded and took control. The island was then again called Mauritius.

BRITISH RULE
The British captured Mauritius to assure access to vital sea lanes and protect their growing interests in India. They had little concern for the internal workings of Mauritian society, leaving the daily affairs of the colony to the Franco-Mauritian aristocracy. The abolition of the slave trade throughout the British Empire in 1807 did, however, have a dramatic effect on Mauritian society, where slavery was abolished in 1835. French slaveholders argued that the government had to compensate them for their loss of valuable property, and they eventually received some £2 million. Slaves were required to work for their former owners as paid labourers for a four-year period, providing the plantation owners time to locate other sources of cheap labour. Not surprisingly, once freed of their obligation to work the plantations, the former slaves fled the fields en masse, establishing themselves in towns, coastal fishing villages, and on marginal unclaimed farmlands.
Even before slavery was abolished, the Franco-Mauritian plantation owners had made contingency plans to locate cheap labour. From 1834 until 1909 hundreds of thousands of Indians - primarily from Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay - migrated to Mauritius as indentured labourers.
Although slavery had been abolished, policies such as the "double cut" and vagrancy laws subjugated indentured labourers. Under the "double cut," for example, labourers lost two days' wages for every day absent from work. Despite extremely low pay, many Indian immigrants chose to remain after their five-year indenture in the sugar fields. Colonial authorities promoted permanent settlement by encouraging the immigration of women and by eliminating free return passages to India.
The large-scale Indian immigration sparked demand for local trade, a niche partially filled by Gujarati Muslims. A significant number of Chinese traders also immigrated to Mauritius during the 19th and 20th centuries, primarily from the Canton region. By 1861 over 2000 Chinese were reported to live throughout the island, dominating the retail trade sector.
Thus, by the beginning of the 20th century, the main constituencies of the contemporary Mauritian population had established themselves. Immigration and emigration slowed and the population stabilized. Indians, an extremely heterogeneous group, came to comprise two-thirds of the population.

MAURITIAN NATION BUILDING
The 20th century brought a series of political and social reforms as Mauritians looked to improve their conditions. Trade unions gained power and several political parties were formed, including the Labour Party. Between 1937 and 1943 there were labour disturbances on plantations and the docks - in some instances leading to violence - indicating a population weary of subjugation and anxious for political representation.
In 1947 a new constitution granted suffrage to all literate adults, followed by universal adult suffrage in 1958. As a result of these changes, Indo-Mauritians for the first time were granted greater influence through representation in the Legislative Council. Political parties quickly formed along ethnic lines with the Labour Party, led by Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, representing the Hindu majority, the Parti Mauricien Sociale Démocrate (PMSD) speaking for the interests of whites and Creoles, and the Muslim Action Committee articulating the demands of the Muslim community.
A series of constitutional conferences were held in London during the 1960s amid rumblings for independence. Afraid of a Hindu-dominated government, the PMSD hoped to block independence in favor of an "association" with Britain. To their disappointment, the British guaranteed the Labour Party support for independence in exchange for the Chagos Archipelago (islands located 1930 km [1199 mi] northeast of Mauritius), which includes the Diego Garcia atoll. Disputes over the sovereignty of Diego Garcia, where the United States maintains a military base, are still unresolved.
Under the leadership of Ramgoolam and the Independence Party, Mauritius obtained sovereignty on March 12, 1968. The formation of the Mouvement Militant Mauricien (MMM), a socialist opposition party, combined with the threat of labour strikes, led to the passing of the Public Order Act in 1971 and later to a state of emergency. Leaders of the MMM were held by the police without trial and the 1972 election was postponed. The press was censored and public assembly was banned. But by 1976, the MMM had obtained significant support, winning 34 of 70 seats in the Legislative Assembly.
In June 1982 the MMM, in coalition with the Parti Socialiste Mauricien (PSM), swept the election, winning all 60 Mauritian seats in the assembly. Anerood Jugnauth became prime minister, but within a few months internal quarreling split his coalition — the first of many Mauritian political alliances to collapse as quickly as it formed. Nevertheless Jugnauth served as prime minister until 1995. Despite a rapidly changing political landscape, Mauritius's democratically elected prime ministers have served long and relatively stable tenures.
CONTEMPORARY EVENTS
The initial socialist leanings of the MMM and other parties have never significantly tempered the country's devotion to free-market economics. After the initial economic difficulties of the 1970s, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank introduced a structural adjustment program providing loans in exchange for compliance with a number of economic-stabilization policies, including currency devaluation. These measures proved largely successful, leading to significant economic growth and prosperity in the 1980s and 1990s. Exports increased, deficit spending was radically reduced, inflation was brought under control, and the gross domestic product (GDP) dramatically rose. Formed in 1972, the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) has been quite successful in attracting foreign investment through a number of tax and fiscal incentives, particularly in the production of knitwear. In 1988 the EPZ accounted for 58.8 percent of the nation's export earnings. The country also opened a stock exchange in 1989 and off-shore banking facilities in 1990.
While underemployment is pervasive, unemployment is minimal. Indeed, labour shortages have led many Mauritian textile firms to recruit laborers from East Asia. Despite these successes, the economy remains dependent upon sugar prices (sugar accounts for 32 percent of export earnings) and the importation of foreign goods, particularly fuel and food. Tourism is another leading industry, ranking third after sugar production and textile manufacturing. Some 400,000 tourists visit Mauritius annually. However, much of the foreign exchange earned through tourism is spent on the importation of products to build and maintain the industry itself.
Primary education is free, compulsory, and relatively enforced in Mauritius. Ninety-four percent of children attend primary school, leading to one of the lowest rates of illiteracy in sub-Saharan Africa (estimated to be 17.1 percent). Economic reforms have also had significant social impact. The creation of the EPZ has drawn many more women into the work force, forcing a reevaluation of gender roles and family structure. Traditional values are also changing as children become more economically independent and freed from family pressures.

In December 1995, Dr. Navin Ramgoolam, son of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, became prime minister in a coalition formed with Paul Berenger's MMM party.
By July 1996 the coalition broke down and Berenger left the government, reconfirming an established Mauritian political tradition of unstable coalitions. Despite the political turbulence, the government shows no sign of shifting away from its commitment to free-market economics.

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