Do you think Mauritius is just a honeymooner’s paradise with idyllic sandy beaches and palm trees gently swaying in the breeze? Think again.
As I discovered when I visited, there’s more to this Indian Ocean island than meets the eye. Whether you are planning a holiday or simply curious, read on for my hand-picked interesting facts about Mauritius.
Headline Mauritius Facts & Figures
1. Mauritius is a remote Indian Ocean island, 600 miles off the coast of Madagascar and over 2,000 miles from South Africa. It is small, just 28 miles wide and 40 miles long.
2. In 2023, it has an estimated population of just over 1.3 million.
3. Mauritius is both an island and a country. The country of Mauritius comprises the islands of Mauritius, Rodrigues and the outer islands of Cargados Carajos and Agalega.
4. It is only one of 25 countries named after a person, in this case, Prince Maurits van Nassau. Others include Bolivia, Colombia, Mozambique and Uzbekistan.
5. Mauritius has a tropical climate, modified by southeast trade winds. This results in warm, dry winters (May to November) and hot, wet and humid summers (November to May).
6. Mauritius is almost entirely surrounded by a coral reef, the largest unbroken one in the world.
7. The dodo is the national emblem of Mauritius. The bird was endemic to the island before its extinction in the late 17th Century.
8. The island’s coat of arms features a dodo and sambur deer, supporting stalks of sugar cane on either side of a shield divided into 4 sections. Underneath this shield is the Latin inscription stella clavisque maris indici, star and the key of the Indian Ocean.
9. The Trochetia Boutoniana has been the national flower of Mauritius since 1992. It is named after the French Botanist Louis Bouton and is also known by its Creole name Boucle D’Oreille.
10. The national flag of Mauritius is known as the Four Stripes (Quatre Bandes). Red is the nation’s struggle for freedom; blue is the Indian Ocean; yellow is for independence and green represents the country’s lush vegetation.
11. Mauritius is home to two of the rarest stamps in the world: the Blue Penny and the Red Penny stamps. These were issued by the British government in 1847.
History of Mauritius
12. Mauritius was uninhabited until 1638 when the Dutch established a trading post for ebony wood on the island. Droughts and cyclones eventually drove them away.
13. The French took over Mauritius in 1715, naming it Isle de France. The colonial society of this time placed whites at the top of the ladder and Indians and Africans at the bottom.
14. Britain captured the Island in 1810 during the Napoleonic Wars. It kept most of the French administrative structure, which remains to this day.
15. Mauritius National Day is celebrated on 12th March, marking the anniversary of its independence from the UK in 1968. Mauritius wasn’t established as a democratic parliamentary republic until 1992.
16. Sugarcane is the backbone of the island’s economy and covers most of the island. It was introduced by the Dutch in the 17th Century, becoming the main crop by the 1820s.
17. Although tea plantations were established in Mauritius in the 18th Century, large-scale tea industry didn’t start until the 1860s. The first and largest tea factory is Bois Cheri, established in 1892.
18. The Champ de Mars Racecourse in Port Louis, Mauritius was inaugurated in 1812 by The Mauritius Turf Club (MTC) which was founded earlier in the same year. The MTC is the second-oldest horse-racing club in the world after Chester in England.
Mauritius People, Culture and Cuisine
19. Although Mauritius does not have an official language, French and English are spoken in the National Assembly. Most of the population speak Creole.
20. Mauritius is a patchwork of cultures and its many ethnic and religious groups include French, Indian, Muslim, Creole and Chinese. It is the only African nation with Hinduism as the major religion (48.5%).
21. Sega, the national dance of Mauritius, has its roots in the ritual music of African slaves. Once an escape from subjugation, it has evolved into an important part of the island’s cultural life.
22. I loved the food in Mauritius! Classic Mauritian dishes include chicken biryani, chicken curry and gulab jamun, deep-fried dumplings made from milk solids, soaked in a light sugar syrup.
23. The island’s quintessential drink is Alouda, made from milk, basil seeds, water, vanilla essence, jelly and sugar. However, Mauritius is best known for its rum and the island has several rum factories.
Natural Wonders and Attractions
24. Pamplemousses Botanical Garden is over 300 years old and is home to an extensive range of flora, including more than 80 species of palms. Its official name is the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden after the late prime minister of Mauritius.
25. The beautiful Le Morne peninsula at the southwestern tip of the island takes its name from Le Morne Brabant, the mountain that occupies it. This was a haven for slaves in the 19th Century.
26. Le Morne Brabant is one of two UNESCO World Heritage sites in Mauritius. The second is Aapravasi Ghat, an immigration depot, located near Port Louis, the island’s capital.
27. One of its most popular tourist attractions is a geological formation of sand dunes of seven distinct colours. This has earnt it the name “Seven Coloured Earths.”
28. Although they aren’t very high, the island’s mountains are known for their striking shapes. Pieter Both Mountain, named after the first Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, is famous for the boulder at its summit that resembles a human head.
Thank you for reading my facts about Mauritius
If you are planning a visit, take a look at my Mauritius travel guide, which includes tips on what to see and how to get around. The island is known for its luxury hotels and you can learn more about two of the best in my review of the SALT of Palmar and my experience at the Westin Turtle Bay.
Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.
Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.
To get in touch, email her at email@example.com or follow her on social media.