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Introduction to Mauritius

Mauritius is a fascinating, world-in-one-island slice of paradise. Its very name of conjures up images of tropical luxury and stupendous extravagance. While in many destinations famed for cobalt-blue seas, white sandy beaches and luxury hotels, you may eventually find yourself wishing for something to do besides sunbathing and swimming, it’s often hard to know what to do next in Mauritius. The island is loaded with historic sights, cultural diversity, geographic variation and almost limitless activities to distract you from the daily grind of beach and pool. But perhaps its single biggest asset is the relaxed charm of its warm and welcoming people.

Mauritius is the most developed of the Mascarene Islands, but with a bit of effort and resourcefulness you can escape the crowds and find your own patch. The smells, noises and bustle of the mercantile capital Port Louis, Africa’s wealthiest city, are never far away, while the busy garment markets in the Central Plateau towns of Quatre Bornes and Curepipe and Black River Gorges National Park's dramatic virgin forests give the lie to Mauritius being just another beach destination. But what beaches! From the stunning sand-rimmed lagoons and popular wide public beaches to the picturesque islands off the country’s coastline, there’s truly something for everyone here. Add to this the joys of Chinese, Indian, French and African cuisine, the rousing beat of séga music and the infectious party spirit of the locals, and you soon understand why Mauritius really is so many people’s idea of paradise on earth.

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Currency

The rupee (sign: ₨; ISO 4217 code: MUR) is the currency of Mauritius. Several other currencies are also called rupee.

Health

Contact your GP around 8 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and useful information about healthcare abroad, including a country-by-country guide of reciprocal health care agreements with the UK, is available from NHS Choices.
Good private healthcare is available, but can be costly if you are not insured. More complex cases could require evacuation to Reunion or South Africa.  Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

Although there are no malarial mosquitoes in Mauritius, the Ministry of Health may ask you for a blood sample either at the airport or at a later stage during your stay if you have travelled from a country where malaria is common.

Cases of dengue fever transmitted by mosquitoes have been reported. You should take mosquito bite avoidance measures.

Stonefish stings are rare but can be fatal. Seek urgent medical attention if you are stung. Many hotels stock anti-venom serum.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 999 or 114 and ask for an ambulance. Private and state ambulance services are available, but are of varied quality and speed.  If you can you should go directly to the hospital. Otherwise, seek advice from your hotel reception. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/mauritius/health

History

FRENCH SETTLEMENT

It was under the French Governor, Mahé de Labourdonnais, that Mauritius knew its first development: a harbour was built. Port Louis, named after the ruling king Louis XV, became the capital of Mauritius. Trade on the island thrived; Mauritius could supply enough sugar and rum to the surrounding islands and visiting vessels.
From this strategic position in the Indian Ocean, the French were plaguing English vessels on their way to and from India.

BRITISH SETTLEMENT

In 1810, the British conquered the island, which they occupied, and Mauritius was formally ceded to them in the "Traiti de Paris" of 1814. Most of the French settlers, remained on the island and were allowed to keep their customs, religion and laws.
A few years later, in 1835, the British abolished slavery - slaves at the time came from Madagascar, Senegal and Mozambique mainly - and this led to the importation of Indian indentured labourers to work in the sugar cane fields. They eventually settled in Mauritius and their descendants constitute nowadays the majority of the population.
Rapid development of the infrastructure continued. Free primary education was given to the population so that local civil servants could be trained to run the affairs of the country.

INDEPENDENCE

Mauritius achieved independence on 12 March 1968 and adopted a constitution based on the British parliamentary system. The first post-independence years were difficult but after more than 15 years of planning and hard work, Mauritius achieved economic and political stability. Mauritius changed its status to that of a Republic on 12 March 1992.
The Mauritian Constitution is based on the Westminister model. Political power is vested in the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. Elections are held every five years.

 

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