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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.

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.