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The Multicultural Melting Pot of the Island of Mauritius
Nestled in the Indian Ocean, off the southeast coast of Africa, the island nation of Mauritius is renowned worldwide for its sparkling natural beauty, luxury, and extravagance. With a rich history and a unique blend of cultures and ethnicities, this real-life tropical paradise boasts sapphire waters, heavenly beaches, stunning mountain scenery, and stylish upmarket resorts. Home to Africa’s wealthiest city, Port Louis, Mauritius’ proximity to Africa makes it an ideal extension to an African safari, while the diversity and beauty of the idyllic island makes it a superb travel destination in its own right.
The island of Mauritius emerged after an underwater volcanic eruption approximately 8 million years ago, leaving behind world-renowned landscapes and lush volcanic vegetation. The island could rival the Galapagos, with its rich plant and animal life. Here on Mauritius there are 700 species of indigenous plants including over 60 species of orchid. The profoundly unique climate and geography of the area has led to the evolution of several species of flightless birds, including the now-extinct Dodo bird.
The 2,040 km² island of Mauritius is surrounded by a sparkling coral reef that’s the third largest in the world, enticing scuba divers and snorkellers from across the globe. In the island’s pristine, turquoise waters, visitors can swim with dolphins, go sea-karting, and take submarine rides, before unwinding along white sandy beaches and peaceful lagoons. The mountainous landscape of Mauritius makes it a thrill-seeker’s paradise, with countless activities like zip-lining and quad-biking.
Visitors who wish to admire the natural, unspoiled beauty of the island more peacefully can do so at a string of photogenic hotspots. The Black River Gorges National Park, with over 60 kilometers of hiking trails through beautiful rainforest, is home to many of the island’s endemic plants and animals, including the fascinating Mauritian Flying Fox. The Pamplemousses Botanical Garden, which is the oldest botanical garden in the southern hemisphere, is known for its giant waterlilies and beautiful vegetation. The Tamarind Falls, at 293 meters, is the highest waterfall in Mauritius. It’s an enchanting natural paradise with 11 waterfalls, multiple jumps, deep ponds, and lush green vegetation. It’s perfect place for a hike.
A Cultural Mosaic
The history and religions of Mauritius have created a kaleidoscope of cultures. Mauritius was first established as a Dutch colony in 1638, and the islands were named after their Prince Maurice von Nassau. After being abandoned by the Dutch, the island was taken over by the French in 1715 and renamed Isle de France. Mauritius was used by the French as an integral location on trade routes from Europe to the East. By 1810, the French had lost the island during colonial competition with the British, who changed the island’s name back to Mauritius. During this colonial period, slave labour brought migrants from Africa, India, and Asia into the region. As a result of the island’s diverse history, the majority of Mauritians are multilingual. English is the official language of Mauritius, but many people are also fluent in French, Mauritian Creole, and several Asian languages – including Hindi, Bhojpuri, Urdu, and Chinese. Travellers are likely to hear very interesting accents when conversing with locals in Mauritius. The most prominent religion in Mauritius is Hinduism, followed by Christianity, then Islam, then Buddhism. A popular travel destination is Ganga Talao, a crater lake secluded in a mountainous area, considered to be the most sacred Hindu place in Mauritius.
A Melting Pot of Flavours
Now an independent state, Mauritius is like a world in one country, bringing together a wide range of cultures and ethnicities. This exotic, multicultural melange shines brilliantly in the country’s bustling garment and spice markets, sumptuous fusion restaurants, rousing séga music, colonial architecture, and gorgeous Hindu temples. The Mauritian people are known for being friendly and hospitable, and are happy to welcome visitors to their beautiful and unique island.
As you can image, the cuisine of Mauritius brings together influences from the various origins of the Mauritian people – creating a melting pot of diverse flavours. The most popular are seafood dishes and French cuisine, but Creole, Chinese, and Indian influences make their way into the Mauritian table as well. Outdoor markets are great for a taste of local snacks like dhal puris, samosas, and gâteaux piments. A string of Michelin-starred restaurants across the island will certainly tantalize your taste buds.
There’s truly something for everyone here. Whether your heart is captured by its natural beauty, adventure, culture, religion, history, or all of the above, a visit to Mauritius is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
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