History of Mauritius

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History of Mauritius

It is quite fascinating and interesting to learn about the history or the past incidents of this magical country. Those incidents contributed a lot in gaining independence and the present identity of Mauritius. However, there are no written shreds of evidence present so it is quite difficult to tell the exact date of the incidents. Documentaries state that Arabians were the first who arrived on this island during the 10th century. This island was named as Dina Arobi (Desert Island) which is also called as the Desert Island. It is also said that the Arabians were followed by some of the Malay tribes however, there is no concrete evidence of this claim.

History of Mauritius

Portuguese Period

After the Arabians and the Malays Domingo Fernandez Pereira, a popular Portuguese seaman discovered Mauritius in the year 1507 and called it as “Ilha do Cerne” also called as Island of the Swan. Scroll down the page to learn more about this country including how it transformed itself from an uninhabited island. Colonized under some colonial powers, and also how did it head towards independence? Reunion, Rodrigues, and Mauritius collectively formed the island and were called as Mascarenes which is still called by the same name. Although Portuguese had never settled themselves in the country and they were limited to the island only and the island was the only source of fresh foods and also the port of call. Portuguese were quite interested in developing their trading link with India.

The Dutch Rule

Admiral van Warwyck gave the order to get the view of this island and similarly sent the five ships which had played a major role in the second expedition organized by the Dutch. This was done in the early stage of the 17th century.  While visiting this beautiful island, the ships crossed the border and entered into the area of Bay which is presently called as Grant Port. Van Warwyck named this island after the son of the great ruler of Dutch. However, in the early stage, Dutch could not occupy the entire island and used to visit the island only for benefitting the region with the raw materials for example Ebony and also for the wild animals including pigs, goats, dodo, and tortoises.

Simons Gooyer was the first governor of the island who was sent by the Dutch East India Company. He was accompanied by a troop of twenty-five men. In the year 1638, a wooden fort was established by the Dutch. To protect and prevent the harbor from the foreign attacks, the architecture was built with cannons and bastions at each and every corner. Van Der Stel succeeded Sions Gooyer and sat on the throne of Governor. Van Der Stel brought many of the items along with him including fruits, various seeds, and also the saplings of sugar cane.

Stags, Geese, Pigeons, Sheep, Ducks, and Rabbits are the other items which were brought by him. Van Der Stel required more men power to cut down the ebony trees to export it in a good amount. He moved towards Madagascar to solve the issue of man requirement and brought 105 slaves with him. Van Der governed the island for 3 continuous years and his main focus was on agriculture and indigo, sugarcane, cultivated rice, and tobacco were the main crops grown during his reign. All these crops and also the fort got damaged by a devastating cyclone in the year 1644. Storms, droughts, and other factors like rats and monkeys disturb the agriculture growth and made the governor think to abandon the island. Later in the year 1710, Dutch thought of settling down again in Mauritius but unfortunately, the country was already inhabited by the people with skills and talent like tanners, blacksmiths, carpenters, brewers, and sawyers. But again the same problem persisted there and the new settlers also had to abandon the island due to the bad weather conditions including storms, droughts, etc.

The French Settlement

After Dutch left Mauritius, the island was left vacant for many years and then in the year 1715, Captain Guillaume Dufresne D`Arsel came to this island and settled there. He named this island as Isle De France and the settlers of the island had not only come from France but also from the Bourbon Island. Denis Denyon was appointed as the governor of the island and the settlement of the island spread over the South East Port (Grand Port) and also to the North West province (Port Louis). Again agriculture became the major livelihood of this island and the settlers started growing maize, rice, and tobacco but unfortunately, the crops again got damaged by the devastating cyclone.

Bertrand Mahé de Labourdonnai was appointed as the governor of the island in the year 1734. He was a great trader as well as the sailor who shifted the headquarters to North West Port from South East Port. He worked very well for the development of the island and during his governorship, he worked for constructing the roads, established a military as well as a civil hospital which can still be found near the harbor. His other achievements were constructing the Government House, Warehouses, shops,  powder Magazines, canals, and also a chain of forts and the batteries to prevent the capital. The governor asked its settlers to start cultivating the lands and for this, he brought some slaves from Mozambique to make the work faster. Cotton, Indigo, sugarcane, rice, wheat, and coffee were the main plantations of this rule. He also constructed the first factory at Pamplemousses Garden.

In order to speed up the work of cultivation and the public works, a good number of artisans and Indian sailors were taken to the island. Gradually, Ile De Franc witnessed development in, any sectors by that time and so it was renowned as one of the prosperous colonies in the world.

After a few years, the island got its new administrators- Intendant Pierre Poivre and Governor Dumas and the crown were taken from the East India Company. Pierre Poivre was a great botanist and he had brought some varieties of spices from the Philippines and also the cinnamon and pepper plants from the Moluccas. In their governance, many new roads were constructed and also roads which were already existed were straightened and widened. Various stone houses were also constructed under this governance.

How did Britishers Captivate Mauritius?

Numerous efforts were made by the Britishers to conquer Mauritius but French deflected their efforts every time. But finally in the year 1810, during the Napoleonic war, the British invaded the country. Britishers invaded Mauritius with the motive of protecting their trade links from England and also from the French. French were the ones who had threatened the Britishers for developing the naval trade and the shipping.

The war between the Britishers and the French

In the year 1810, the British reached Cap Malheureux along with his good number of armed forces and also with a total of 174 guns. On the other hand, French had only 144 guns to fight against British and the battle continued for a long time and finally ended with the surrender of French as they were less in number as compared to the Britishers.

Constitution of the Country

The council of government was first established in Mauritius in the year 1825 and it extended more by the year 1886 to provide enough space to a large number of representatives. The constitution of the country was significantly amended until 1933. However, the constitution was restricted to some of the groups which fall in the category of proper income bucket and also the property owners. The first legislative council of the country was held on 1st of September 1948 and the first election of the country was organized in the year 1948.

Mauritius Independence

Post the general elections held in the year 1967, Mauritius gained its complete independence on the 12th of March, 1968. Seewoosagur Ramgoolam was elected as the first prime minister of Mauritius. After 24 years of independence, Mauritius gained the status of a republic on the 12th of March, 1992.


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