How Mauritius was discovered ?

16th Century

The history of Mauritius begins around 900 AD, when Arab sailors, engaged in trade with people from the East African coast, the Comoros, and Madagascar, first laid eyes on what they called Dina Arobi (Abandoned Island). Since the Arabs were first and foremost traders and a journey as far into the Indian Ocean as the Mascarene Islands was a rather dangerous venture in their small dhows, there was no incentive to establish a settlement on the island.

Portuguese discoveries


Mauritius was later discovered and toured by the Portuguese between 1507 and 1513. Mauritius and neighboring islands were known as the Mascarene Islands Ilhas Mascarenhas after Pedro Mascarenhas

Dutch east indies company era


In 1598, the second Dutch Expedition to Indonesia involving eight ships set sail from Texel, Netherlands, towards the Indian subcontinent. They ran into foul weather after passing the Cape of Good Hope, and were divided. On 17 September, five of the ships under the orders of Admiral van Warwyck came into view of Mauritius. On 20 September, they broke into a sheltered bay which they named "Port de Warwick" (now known as "Grand Port"). They landed and decided to name the island "Prins Mauritz van Nassaueiland," after the son of William the Silent, Prince Maurits (Latin version: Mauritius) Nassau. From that time, only the name Mauritius has remained.

 Port louis became the a Dutch port


In 1606, two expeditions came for the first time to what would later become Port-Louis in the northwest part of the island. The expedition, composing of eleven ships and 1,357 men under the instructions of Admiral Corneille, came into the bay, which they named "Rade des Tortues" (literally meaning "Harbor of the Tortoises") because of the huge number of terrestrial tortoises they found there. From that date, Dutch sailors shifted their choice to Rade des Tortues as a harbor.

Cursed island


In 1615, the shipwreck and demised of governor Pieter Both, who was coming back from India with four richly laden ships in the gulf, led Dutch sailors to consider the route as cursed, and they tried to circumvent it as much as possible. In the meantime, the British and the Danes were commencing to make incursions into the Indian Ocean. Those who landed on the island freely cut and took with them the precious heartwood of the ebony trees, then found in profusion all over the island.

Difficult settlement of the dutch


From 1638, the Dutch decided to make the island their own and in doing so, started the first chapter of Mauritius history as a settlement. This came after more than a century in which Mauritius had served as little more than port of call. Life here was nowhere near easy, however, as tropical typoons and a lack of rain caused devastation with any attempts at farming, while famine and disease wreaked death and destruction on most isolated of the Dutch settlements. By 1710, the island had been made extinct and much of the ebony forest had been cleared for timber purposes.

Legacy of the Dutch

the dutch end

i. Providing the name for the country and for many regions over the whole island. For example “Pieter Both” Mountain

ii. Introduction of sugar cane plants from Java

iii. Decimating the local dodo and giant tortoise populations for food and by introducing competing species and pests, sometimes involuntarily.

iv. Clearing of large swaths of forests for Ebony bark exploitation

French rule


In September 1715, Frenchman Guillaume Dufresne d’Arsel claimed the port, naming it the Isle de France. Occupation commenced just six years later, although development did not begin in earnest until naval officer Mahe de LA Bourbonnais was appointed as governor. Port Louis was subsequently made a naval stronghold and various important buildings came into being at this time, including Chateau de Mon Plaisir within the district of Pamplemousses and sections of government house, along with the line barracks. French rule came to an abrupt end at the hands of the British in 1810 during the Napoleonic wars.

British rule

1810 – 1968

Some 25 years after the new European rulers took over, the burgeoning practice of slavery was abolished. Most of the Madagascan and African slaves brought to Mauritius during French period chose to stay. Still, the predominant language on the island was French, although Chinese, Malays and a host of different peoples from across the colonies lived and worked here, leading to some inter-racial tensions.

An independence movement also gathered steam, first under Guy Rozemont’s Labour Party and then as a coalition, and communal unrest continued right up to the achievement of independence in 1968. Since then, a series of coalition governments have avoided the usual coups and one-party states so typical in post-colonial Africa, and with stability the country has thrived, especially on tourism.

Independence of Mauritius


An independence campaign gained momentum after 1961, when the British agreed to permit additional self-government and eventual independence. A coalition composed of the Mauritian Labour Party (MLP), the Muslim Committee of Action (CAM) of Sir Abdool Razack Mohamed, and the Independent Forward Bloc (IFB) – a traditionalist Hindu party – won a majority in the 1967 Legislative Assembly election, despite opposition from Franco-Mauritian and Creole supporters of Sir Gaetan Duval QC's and Jules Koenig's Mauritian Social Democratic Party (PMSD).


The contest was interpreted locally as a referendum on independence. The election was won by a small margin. Constituency No. 15 was key to the victory by the pro-independence coalition. The MLP led alliance was able to win this constituency only due to the support of the CAM. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, a very popular medical practitioner who tremendously helped and supported the poor and the workers community, MLP leader and chief minister in the colonial government, became the first prime minister after independence, on 12 March 1968. This event was preceded by a period of communal strife, brought under control with assistance from British troops. The communal strife that preceded independence led to around 300 deaths