You think you know everything about Mauritius and yet there is still a lot to discover! It hides many treasures and you should discover them. Many of them will surprise you, others will make you smile and the rest will simply give you more information about the destination you have chosen, which is probably one of the best options to enjoy a great vacation. Did you know that....? We tell you everything!
Mauritius was created by an underwater volcanic eruption about 10 million years ago. Indeed, when the Indian Ocean began to form with a break point between Africa and India, Mauritius was placed in the border zone of the African plates and Indian Australo under water. The eruption that took place with lava brought out a piece of land from the depths and created many mountains, valleys and gorges that still exist today. The Port Louis mountain range in Moka is famous for being the largest volcanic crater on the island.
Mark Twain, an American writer, is famous for saying: “You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first, and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius,” in 1896. This quote highlights the beauty of the island and proves that it is well worth a visit.
On August 25, 1906, the coat of arms of Mauritius were formalised and represent attributes of the island. On the left, there is a key on a golden background and above a ship on a blue background symbolising colonisation. On the right side, we can see a silver star pointing a light and below, three palm trees representing the tropical vegetation of the country. In addition, to the left, you can see a dodo and a sambar on the right of the coat of arms. And finally, on the lower part is the official currency of the country written in Latin: "Stella Clavisque Maris Indici", which is "Star and Key of the Indian Ocean".
Regarding the colours (the same as found on the rainbow flag of the Republic of Mauritius):
- The red represents on the one hand for the Mauritians, the bright colour of flamboyancy of the island and on the other hand for the Republic, it refers to blood shed during colonisation.
- The yellow evokes the sun and the light
- The blue definitely symbolises the ocean and the sky
- And finally, the green highlights the sugar culture and lush vegetation of the Mauritian lands.
Around 1638, sugarcane came from Java was introduced for the first time in Mauritius. Due to its poor quality and blackish colour, the Dutch only used it to produce rum. Then, in the 1700s, the French, with the control of the island, then developed the culture of the cane to produce sugar. But, really, it was in the 1800s that the English developed this exploitation.
In particular, it is possible to discover everything about the history of sugar at the Beau Plan sugar adventure. Near the Garden of Pamplemousses, this former candy factory transformed into a modern and fun museum allowing visitors to visit the entire farm and discover the manufacturing and processing systems. As a bonus, you will get to taste a whole panel of sugar with different flavours and scents. Sugarcane is the main agricultural product in Mauritius. The climate is ideal for growing sugarcane and this product is exported all around the world.
Séga is the national dance and is performed by moving your whole body, but not your feet. Séga is also a type of music, usually sung in Creole, the mother tongue of the island, and gets the locals dancing whenever they hear it. The dance originated from the ritual music of mainland Africa and Madagascar and expresses liveliness and joy. And, originally, it was sung by men and women slaves. Traditionally, fishermen gather around a campfire and dance accompanied by the 'Ravanne', the 'Triangle', the 'Maravanne', the tinkiling spoons and the clapping hands of the spectators.
-Ravanne: circle of wood with a piece of goat skin stretched over it.
- Triangle: triangular piece of metal that tinkles when struck with an iron bar.
- Maravanne: rectangular box filled with sand or seeds.
For the Mauritians, the Sega is the cry of the soul seeking to overcome the miseries and sorrows of life, but also the expression of joy and happiness.
The dodo, although extinct, is the national animal of Mauritius. The size of a turkey, it measured 1 metre and was distinguished by two specied: the common dronte and the white dronte. Short on his legs, he had a curved bill and a grey-blue plumage. Living up to 30 years, he built his pyramid nest on the ground with palm leaves to cover his eggs. The dodo was a flightless bird which lived in Mauritius, nested on the ground and ate fruits that had fallen from the trees. The dodo became extinct in 1681.
In 1589, the dodo was first discovered by Dutch sailors landing on the island. At that time, the so-called Walgvovel (literally a disgusting bird), was not an animal that many liked to eat, but being edible, it still made the sailors happy on the trade route to the Indies.
From the 1600s, Mauritius experienced a period of deforestation, strong hunting and an increas of settlers and slaves. And, it is in particular the appearance of new predators such as the dogs, pigs or macaques brought back by the colonisers, that the dodo knew its extinction.
Today, it is possible to admire a reconstitution of the animal at the Museum of Natural History of Port-Louis, thanks to a skeleton found near Plaisance.
Although there is no official language in Mauritius, the island has three main languages: English, French and Mauritian Creole. More than 70% of the population speak Mauritian or Morisyan Creole. We speak in particular of Franco-Mauritian, since it is based on the French language. In fact, French is the language of cultural use, used in education, and the media, while English is used more in politics by governement officials.
For travellers, it is easy to communicate on the island given the variety of languages spoken by Mauritians who are often bilingual or trilingual.
Other languages that are also spoken: Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Urdu, Mandarin or Bhojpuri.
Mauritius is famous for its underwater waterfall. This phenomenon is unique and can only be witnessed from above. This illusion captivates people from all around the world and the geography behind it is really fascinating. Mauritius is located on a gigantic plateau created millions of years ago by the seafloor spreading.
The massive drop goes down for thousands of metres creating a waterfall effect. Due to the angle of the island, there is a down pulling effect when the waves come on the shore and displace the sand. This movement pulls the silt and sand down the drop, thus creating the illusion of an underwater waterfall.