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Mauritius Today; Growth, Heritage and Art

Mauritius is, as we have mentioned over and over again on this site, more than white sand beaches and stunning turquoise waters; it is a culturally rich and exciting place to explore with heritage, art and diversity unlike anywhere you have ever been. It has only been just over 50 years since this country became independent, and since then, it has continued to expand, to be one of the most diverse places that can be found on the Indian Ocean. Let’s take an in-depth look at the culture, arts and heritage that give Mauritius so much personality and a dynamic backdrop.

Cultural Diversity

As we have discussed and mentioned a few times, the country is a mix of French, Indian, Creole and Chinese people who, despite their ethnicities, have a sense of national pride that is indescribable. Recent news, events and claims to fame, are rooted in their famous hospitality and welcoming nature.

The empire, and colonial, days of the country were mostly under the French or British rule, and much of this remains evident in today’s culture. The first ever visitors to this beautiful island were spice traders and Arabian seafarers, who were followed closely by the Dutch, as well as Portuguese empire builders. In hot pursuit were the British, who took over with a firey reign until French farmers and plantation owners arrived with slaves from countries such as Madagascar. The Indian and Chinese populations did not come until the 19th century and brought goods, crafts and religion.

This diversity is what makes the country unique, and has created a society that is forward thinking and innovative. This can be seen by the recent challenge, and speaking out, over the sovereignty of the Chagos islands and their own independence.

More recent evolution has caused Mauritius to develop and move towards more modern practices and infrastructure, with all the signs pointing to continued expansion in jobs and economic wellbeing.

Recent News; Mauritius’ World Famous Golf

Mauritius is full of beaches and activities for all. Not only is it a great place to play golf leisurely but it is also the host to golf tournaments and games for the pros as well. The Four Seasons hosts theMauritius Open. South African golfer Frittelli found this tournament a key part of his career as it helped his name make the list of top 50 golfers on the Official World Golf Rankings and therefore hold Mauritius in high regard. The tournament is hosted in what is, for many, considered to be winter but in Mauritius it is warm and perfect golf weather in November and December.

The course at the Four Seasons is known to be both beautiful and challenging. It is sponsored by large companies, organizations and luxury brands to match the luxurious feel of the course and the island. Hosting large and world recognized tournaments such as this draws tourists and golfers alike. There are golfers from all over the world who come to play the courses both on and off the various resorts.

The Four Seasons golf course is especially unique as it was designed by a pro golfer Ernie Els and was designed with pro golf in mind. The course was designed so perfectly that it hosted the AfrAsia Masters for 5 years in a row, from 2010 to 2014. The course was also designed with 6 holes that allow golfers to play beside the breathtaking and humbling Indian Ocean.

Events like these put Mauritius on the map and beyond just the benefits to the golf community but also stimulate the economy of the country, draw tourists and help Mauritius become an increasingly independent and stable nation. It has helped make Mauritius make a name for itself and increase its popularity amongst European and international travelers.

Food; a Key Part of the Culture of Mauritius

Incredible food is a big part of the culture in Mauritius. From world-class restaurants to fresh flavours in local cafes, Mauritius has a lot to offer regarding cuisine. There are a few, not so secret, ingredients that make the tastes of the island unique. The first desirable ingredient is the succulent seafood that comes straight from the fresh and calm waters of the Indian Ocean. The second is the sweet, ripe fruit and vegetables that are grown to perfection as a result of damp soil and hot sun. The spices are also an essential part of making the food taste great. The final key element isn’t an ingredient at all; it is the love and passion put into the food by the chefs.

  • Fusion is a big part of the country’s cuisine as the nation is a melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities. Fusion combinations mix everything from French, Indian, Chinese, Creole and other flavours. Some of these fusion combinations are incredibly unique, and it is unlikely you will find them anywhere else. Seafood is typically at the centre of the plate and the delicious dishes.
  • Fresh and tropical flavours are the best ways to describe the fruit and vegetables grown on Mauritian soil. Pineapples, grapefruit and bananas are all fruits that you can find in this country.
  • Bakeries and baked goods are also increasingly popular, with the French to thank for this.
  • Fine dining; there are Michelin star restaurants to be found, despite the island being small and condensed. The quality of the restaurants and the chefs behind them make the food even more flavourful and tasty.

Food is an essential part of any national culture, and more spotlight should be given to the flavours of Mauritius, if, and when, deciding to visit and see the country.

Important Historic Milestones for Mauritius

To understand Mauritius’ present and current situation, we must understand their past, and the critical milestones that helped the country evolve to be what it is today.

In March 1968, Mauritius gained its independence from Britain. Despite this, the Queen remains the person in charge and the respected head of state.

Upon receiving and declaring their independence, the country developed a new flag that was symbolic. The red stripe was a symbol of blood that was shed when slavery and suffering were a sacrifice made during colonisation. It also represents the self-determination, and the struggle that was fought as the island sought independence. The yellow stripe in the middle is the light associated with autonomy and the sunshine that is related to the country’s bright future. Finally, the green line was, and still is, symbolic of the greenery that can be seen and enjoyed all over the island.

  • The 1970s were a time when nature was at risk, but the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation was formed to combat this. It worked towards and successfully saved, many endangered species of birds including the Mauritius Kestrel, the Echo Parakeet as well as the Pink Pigeon, all three that were almost extinct.
  • The 1990s marked what is now known formally as the First Economic Miracle, when the post-colonial time allowed the economy to boom, with the manufacturing sector taking off, and realising great success. Tourism was booming and continued to grow, and the sugar industry also contributed to the unprecedented and impressive growth of the economy.
  • 1992 was the year that Mauritius became an official republic after 24 years of independence.
  • 1994 was a time that was traumatic for Mauritius, as it was devastated by Cyclone Hollanda, but it was also a year that showed the country’s strength as they banded together to rebuild their beloved nation.

Mauritius’ Financial Sector

Let’s take a look at what Mauritius’ financial sector and economy are made up of and what the country as a whole looks like.

Mauritius hosts several offshore banking facilities which cater to large organizations and wealthy individuals. In addition, there is a development bank and several commercial banks as well. The main bank is the Bank of Mauritius. The country’s stock exchange is based in Port Louis.

In terms of trade, the imported goods are mostly machinery and transport and transportation equipment. Petroleum is also an important asset. Exports are less than imports but are made up of sugar, the countrie’s most famous asset, as well as textiles, fish and seafood products. The partners in the trade of these items include the United Kingdom, France, South Africa, China and more recently, places in North America such as the United States.

Since trade isn’t prominent enough to stimulate and maintain the economy, Mauritius relies heavily on tourism which has been on the rise consistently since the 1970s. This is where a lot of the money and foreign exchange comes from. Tourism has become so prominent that in 2001 there was an agency created called the Information and Communication Technologies Authority to help manage and regulate the tourism and related sectors.

Despite tourism being an increasing economic force, almost 40% of the population are still employed in the finance, services and related sectors. 30% are employed by construction and manufacturing and only 10% remain employed or involved in agriculture.

In addition to tourism, taxation makes a lot of money for Mauritius. The government actually makes 90% of their money from taxes and tax related revenue, namely taxes on goods and services. Trade taxes are a significant source of income as well as is coporate income tax. Overall, the financial sector is complex and segmented.

Mauritius Disagrees with Britain’s Claim on the Chagos Islands

Mauritius has a rich history and culture, but it hasn’t come without struggles and issues. Most recently, those issues revolve around territory and land claims. Mauritius went before the United Nations’ court to argue that the United Kingdom presented and posed undue pressure and threats, back in 1965, to force them to give up an island in the Indian Ocean, all in exchange for independence.

The Chagos Islands are currently under British reign, but the judges at the ICJ are considering the legality, or the lack of, in terms of the sovereignty of the Chagos Islands. The largest of the islands is Diego Garcia, which is home to a major US airbase.

There are over 22 countries that are involved in the debate over the islands’ colonial past and history, as well as where the rights of exiled people and those who lived on these islands stand.

What seems like a beautiful country, with its white sand beaches and turquoise waters, has some less than beautiful issues. Ultimately, such disputes as the Chagos Islands are a matter of how power was and is imbalanced and used. Does this mean that deals struck between stronger and weaker countries should or should not be viewed as legitimate?

There are differing opinions regarding the issues at hand, whether it should be Mauritius or perhaps the UK who should have reign. Those who live on the islands, however, feel that they should have the right to sovereignty and self determination. The right of return is something that these people seek.

This is a great reminder that sometimes the places we go to for vacation or visit for a beach getaway are so much more than the resorts, the sand and the sea, and that we should be aware of this and acknowledge and respect the struggles, issues and reality of these countries and their people.

The Changing Narrative of Mauritius’ Story

As the BBC reminds us, Mark Twain was convinced that ‘Heaven was copied after Mauritius’. Many people, both locals, and those who have visited once or visit regularly would agree. From the breezy beach, to the clear water and the tall palm trees, it is hard to find anything wrong with the views and landscape. Mauritius, however, is so much more than just beaches and postcard worthy views.

Recently, Mauritius has become increasingly popular as a destination for tourists, expats and those looking for a long term island lifestyle. Attention has been given to the diverse and interesting cultures and the melting pot that the island is becoming.

For example, Port Louis is a hub of activity in the morning with the market being a popular spot for morning shopping, coffee, visits and breakfast. This is where the majority of people who live in Port Louis and even the surrounding areas buy their groceries. You will hear French, Creole and even Hindi being spoken at the market and see products from a variety of cultural backgrounds and places.

News, blogs, social media and other outlets for communication and information often focus on the luxury resorts and high class accommodations and vacations that the island has to offer, but it is important to also understand, acknowledge and appreciate the rich and diverse culture that makes up this beautiful island. The people are as beautiful as the beaches and there is increasing attention being given to this, as resorts have started to share the spotlight with locals and a different type of experience on the island.

The people of the island who have settled here and the history of it ranges from pirates to slaves to farmers and everything in between, and this story is starting to be told more and more by national and international news and information outlets.