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Mauritius  -°C
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Mauritius was first discovered by Arab seafarers in the 19th century and was visited again at the beginning of the 16th century by the Portuguese. The Dutch were first to colonise the island in 1598 and named it after Prince Maurice of Nassau. They left around 1710 after introducing sugarcane crops, deer and monkeys. Meanwhile the ebony forests were destroyed by overexploitation and the dodo was exterminated. It became the emblem of endangered animal species and conservation worldwide.

In 1715, the French took possession of the island and re-named it “Isle de France”. In 1721, Governor Mahe de Labourdonnais founded Port-Louis, which later became the island’s capital. He turned the island into a prosperous French colony and a port of call on the sea journey from Europe to Far-east round Cape of Good Hope. He established Port-Louis as a naval base, built roads and bridges. Nowadays, Labourdonnais’ statue still stands guard facing Port-Louis harbour.

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The British coveted this strategic island and in 1810 a major naval battle took place at Grand Port on the south-east coast of the island. It was the only naval battle won by the Napoleon , and is thus, duly engraved on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. However, three months later, the British Launched a surprise attack from the north of the island and French governor General Charles Decaen surrendered. The 1814 Treaty of Paris ratified the cession of Mauritius and its independencies, Rodrigues and Seychelles, to the British. The island took its former name of Mauritius, and English became the official language. However, according to the treaty of Paris, the population was to keep its language, its religion and laws. This is the reason why French is still widely spoken although the British ruled the island for 158 years.

Mauritius gained its independence from Britain on 12th March 1968 and became a Republic on 12th March 1992.

Click to listen national anthem of Mauritius: