Mauritius, a tiny paradise in the Indian Ocean has been colonized several times by the Europeans in the past. Being in a strategic position – linking other colonies in Africa, India and the East Indies, Mauritius was an ideal stop over for tired sailors who navigated the ocean for a long time.
With the Dutch first colonization attempt (1638), slaves from Madagascar were brought to help build the colony. After the unsuccessful second attempt of the colony, the Dutch settlers left Mauritius in 1710 leaving it for the French East India Company to take over in 1721. It was then followed by the British who took over the colonial island in 1810. In the process, many slaves from the African continent was brought to Mauritius, and with the abolition of slavery in 1835 indentured labourers were brought from India and China, which today make up the population of Mauritius.
The Locals in Mauritius
Today Mauritius comprises of a culturally diverse population of about 1.2 million whereby the female population outnumbers the male population. The Mauritian demographic can be classified by different ethnic groups which consist of Indo-Mauritians, Creoles, Sino-Mauritians and the Franco-Mauritians. The Indo-Mauritians are the majority and make up about 68% of the entire population. The Indo-Mauritians are composed of Hindu and Muslim communities which are divided into several sub-communities and castes. This is followed by 27% of the Creole community which represents descendants from various parts of Africa and Madagascar. The two smaller communities are of Chinese and European descendants that make up 3% and 2% of the total population respectively.
With its rainbow population, Mauritius today proudly presents a diverse and rich culture to the world. One can find cultural remnants of Africa, India, China and parts of Europe in various ways including cuisines, festivities, street & building names, spoken languages, dressing styles, and the population itself.
Mauritians are known for their friendly and helpful attitude towards foreigners who visit Mauritius during their vacation. They are always helping tourists who are lost or finding ways to their destination.
If you are travelling in a taxi you would most probably meet drivers who are enthusiastic and willing to show you around, but of course you should bargain your taxi fare in the beginning.
Discover the laidback, island life of Mauritius with its charming and welcoming population where you might have the chance to meet local fishermen or people at a tabaji (small shop) and strike up an entertaining conversation.
Another interesting way to get to know the locals is through the various festivals that are held year round. For example, there is Divali (the festival of light), Eid-UL-FItr, Chinese New Year, Cavadee, Festival Creole and many other cultural festivals that will allow you to discover the cultural and religious side of the island.
The cultural side of the population reflects heavily in the local food. You will not be surprised to find an eclectic range of spicy dishes in an Indo-Mauritian house, or succulent steamed dumplings at a Chinese restaurant or the typical Creole cuisine practically in most of the small restaurants. You should definitely hang out in the small street restaurants to get to meet the locals while savoring the typical Mauritian food.
But just like any other country, it is important to be cautious.