Mauritius
Geography
Mauritius is a volcanic island, measuring 58km from north to south and 47km from east to west. It lies in the Indian Ocean, roughly 800km east of Madagascar. As a country it includes the inhabited island of Rodrigues, some 560km to the north-east, and other scattered coral atolls such as Cargados Carajos and Agalega.

Unlike neighbouring Reunion, Mauritius has no active volcanoes, although remnants of volcanic activity - such as Trou aux Cerfs crater in Curepipe and millions of lava boulders - pepper the island.

History
The islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues have had a varied and interesting history. They were first used by the Arabs, but came to prominence when Portuguese traders started to use them in the 16th Century as a stopping point to fill their casks with fresh water and feed on fresh foods before travelling on to India.

In 1598 the Dutch landed and spent the next 112 years plundering the island's valuable ebony forests and hunting the Dodo to extinction. On the plus side, they introduced sugar cane. But Cyclones, famine and disease, along with attacks by pirates and unrest among slaves forced the Dutch out, the last of them leaving in 1710.

The French took possession of the island in 1715. The next 100 years saw the rise and fall of Mauritius as a French strategic base and trading centre in the Indian Ocean. Although in 1763 the French lost the war against the British in India it was still able to hold on to the shipping routes through Mauritius. However, in 1810 a British Force landed on the island and took control. Under British rule the island continued to prosper, mainly through the export of sugar. British rule lasted until 1968 when Mauritius and Rodrigues became independent.

Following the abolition of slavery in 1835 an additional workforce was recruited from India and China. The cosmopolitan mix was further enhanced by the Creoles, a people of mixed African and European lineage.

Language
Although English is the official language in Mauritius, French is more widely spoken and is dominant in the media. However, the language most spoken by Mauritians is Creole. Originating as the common tongue among slaves of differing origins, and between them and the colonists, the lingua franca of the island is based largely on French with elements of English, Hindi, Chinese and Malagasy. Despite its widespread use, it is neither taught in school or recognised officially.

Religion
Mauritius is home to a diverse population practising different religions. It is thought that about half the population are Hindu, with the rest made up of Islam, Buddhism and Christianity.

Cuisine
Again, its diverse population affords the country a wide choice of cuisine. Seafood is very popular, with smoked Marlin being at the top of the list of local delicacies. Rice is served with most dishes, including curries, rougaille (a meat,tomato, onion dish with herbs and chilli), fricassee, and moulouktani (from mulligatawny, it is a curried soup made with small crabs and pieces of meat).

Indian cuisine is another favourite with snacks such as poppadum's, samosas and chilli bites often sold on street stalls.

Chinese food is also very popular with familiar dishes such as pork fooyong and sweet and sour fish common.

Currency
The official currency in Mauritius is the Mauritian Rupee.
Mauritius
What To Do
Getting Around & Tailormade Stays
Getting There
When To Go
Health & Visas
Rodrigues & Reunion
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