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was first discovered by the Arabs in the 10th century and was named Dina
Robin. In 1510 the Portuguese led by navigator Pedro Mascarenhas visited
the island and called it Cirné. Just like the Arabs before them,
they only used it as a port of call and never established any permanent
|In 1598, the Dutch on their way to the
East fortuitously landed at Vieux Grand Port, in the south east of the
island, and named it after their Prince Mauritius Van Nassau ,
the younger son of Guillaume de Nassau, Prince Orange and Stadholder of
Holland. Unlike the Portuguese who had little influence in the Indian
Ocean, the Dutch were much more powerful in the region. They had already
several counters in the East and established a first settlement under
the Dutch East India Company. The Dutch however showed more interest with
the Far East and the peopling of Mauritius remained very unstable. In
1712, they finally withdrew from Mauritius because of the difficult climatic
conditions prevailing on the island and because it was more worthwhile
to consolidate their already established base in Capetown (South Africa).
withdrawal allowed the French in 1715, who were already operating in the
Indian Ocean, to move in. They named the island Isle de France. True colonisation
and peopling of the island started under the French in 1722 and they would
control the island until 1810. For almost 100 years the Isle de France
was developed and built up with the objective of conquering Madras and
other Indian counters from the British. Under the French, colonisation
was successful because they were prepared to settle and develop the infrastructure,
agriculture and economy and use it as a trading post rather than just
a port of call.
|After the defeat of the French in India,
Britain became the most important land based power in the Indian Ocean.
Finally in 1810 the British moved in and took over the island six months
after having been vanquished by the same French during the naval battle
of Vieux Grand Port. It was to be the one and only victory of the navy
of Napoleon in the world.
was during British rule that slavery was abolished in 1835 and Indentured
labourers were contracted from India. The 19th Century was a time of great
change in the population structure of the island. The coloured people
and immigrants greatly modified the political of the island. The 20th
Century saw a continuation of the political struggle started in the 19th
Century. Political Parties were formed and the distribution of power was
reformed to accommodate the different emerging segment of the population.
In 1936 the Mauritian Labour Party was created and in 1968 the island
became an independent country. The second half of the 20th Century is
marked by reforms brought to the economy which led to the economic boom
after 1982 and to the transformation of the island from an underdeveloped,
third world country into a developing country.