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keskiviikko 29. kesäkuuta 2016

Mauritius, Cool Facts #123

<= 122. Zimbabwe                                                                                                   124. Cameroon => 

The Mascarene Islands is a geographic region, which got its name from the Portuguese navigator Pedro Mascarenhas. The islands are 700-1500 km east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.

List of Mascarene Islands: 

Mauritius - independent state
Rodriguez - autonomous island of Mauritius
Reunion - French overseas department
Remnants of several other islands

The three large islands and the remnants of other islands, which form the Mascarene Islands, share a common geologic origin in the volcanism of the Reunion hotspot beneath the Mascarene Plateau. This ecoregion has a unique flora and fauna and the terrain includes a variety of reefs, atolls and small islands.
Mascarene Islands on the map

Mascarene Archipelago

2. Origins of the Country's Name

Dina Harobi - A name given by the Arabs, who visited the uninhabited island in the 900s

Mauritius - A name given by the Dutch after their ruler Prince Maurice van Nassau. The Dutch visited Mauritius for the first time in 1598 and established the first colony in 1638. The Dutch ruled the island until 1715 when it was seized by the French. The British took the control in 1810 and reverted the old name Mauritius after the Congress of Vienna.

Ile de France - During the French rule in 1715-1810 Mauritius was called "Ile de France", which means "French Island".

Prince Maurice van Nassau on the stamp

3. Dodo  

Dodo is the extinct flightless bird and the mascot of Mauritius. Dodo was an endemic species to Mauritius, where the last Dodo was sighted in 1662. The Dodo became extinct only in under a century after the arrival of human beings in the island as the first sightings of the bird had been done in 1598 by Dutch sailors.

The extinction called attention to the previously unrecognized problem of human involvement in the disappearence of entire species. The Dodo had lost their ability to fly mainly because they didn't have any predators in the island but when the island was inhabited, people brought predators and destroyed its habitat leading to the extinction eventually.

The Dodo achieved a lot of recognition of its role in the story of "Alice in Wonderland" and it's also often presented as a symbol of extinction and obsolescence in popular culture.


4. Depopulation of Chagossians 

In 1965, the British detached the Chagos Archipelago, consisting of the island of Diego Garcia and other islands, from Mauritius and formed the British Indian Ocean Territory. Between 1968 and 1973 the entire population of Chagos was removed to Mauritius and the Seychelles.

The reason for these actions were USA's plan to establish a military base in the Indian Ocean. The British had a lot of islands in the Indian Ocean and that's why the British signed a 50-year agreement to give Chagos to the USA for military purposes for that time period.

The islands had to be without civilian residents, so that's why the islands were depopulated from the few thousand Chagossians. The Chagossians have complained about their situation of not being able to return home and living as a marginalized community in Mauritius and the Seychelles.

Chagos Archipelago 
Chagos Archipelago map

Mauritius is the number one of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which ranks African countries according to 100 variables, grouped into four broad categories.

Ibrahim Index categories: 

1. Safety and Rule of Law: 23 indicators
First: 88.9 Botswana (2013)
Last: 4.9 Somalia (2013)

2. Participation and Human Rights: 19 indicators
First: 81.7 Cape Verde (2013)
Last: 11.5 Somalia (2013)

3. Sustainable Economic Opportunity: 30 indicators
First: 79.7 Mauritius (2013)
Last: 2.3 Somalia (2013)

4. Human Development: 22 indicators
First: 92.2 Seychelles (2013)
Last: 13.1 Somalia (2013)

2015 IIAG Index Top 5

  1. Mauritius - 79.9 
  2. Cape Verde - 74.5
  3. Botswana - 74.2
  4. South Africa - 73.0
  5. Namibia - 70.4

The Society of Mauritius:  

- Described as the only perfect democracy in Africa
- An exception in Africa as multi-party system has prevailed during the entire independence
- Low corruption
- Free education and health care
- Sugar production, textile industry and tourism the biggest industries in the country

Ibrahim Index 2015 


900s Uninhabited when the Arab sailors visited the island during Middle Ages
1507 The Portuguese navigator Diogo Fernandes Pereira was the first European to land in Mauritius
1598 The Dutch landed in the island naming it Mauritius after Prince Maurice van Nassau of the Dutch Republic
1638 The Dutch established a small colony, which lasted twenty years. From this colony the Dutch navigator Abel Tasman set out to discover the western part of Australia
1662 The last Dodo was sighted in Mauritius
1710 The Dutch abandoned Mauritius because the settlements didn't produce enough dividends
1715 The French took control of Mauritius renaming it Isle de France
1788 The novel "Paul and Virginie" was published making Isle de France famous in the French-speaking world
1810 The British conquered Mauritius from the French during the Napoleon Wars reverting the old name Mauritius to the island in 1815 after the Congress of Vienna
1835 Slavery was abolished, 75.000 slaves were freed and workers from Southern India were brought to the sugar plantations
1906 Mauritius got the status of a Crown Colony and a flag
1914-1918 The First World War was a time of great prosperity because of a boom in sugar prices
1922 First airplane landed on Mauritius
1958 Mauritius was granted autonomy
1959 The British Harold McMillan made his famous speech "Winds of Change Speech" where he said that it's best for Britain to give complete independence to all of its colonies
1965 The British formed the British Indian Ocean Territory and excised the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius
1968 Mauritius proclaimed independence
1975 A student revolt swept across the country starting from the University of Mauritius, as a result the right to vote was extended to people who were 18-yeard old
1992 Mauritius was proclaimed a republic
1995 Navin Cahndra Ramgoolam, the son of the first Prime Minister Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, was elected as the Prime Minister
2005 Ramgoolam became the Prime Minister as Jugnauth became the ceremonial president
2008 Mauritius won its first Olympic medal in boxing
2009-2011 Truth and Justice Commission was established to explore the impact of slavery and indentured servitude in the country covering more than 370 years, the longest period of any truth commission 

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