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About Mauritius

 

Geographic Location


Mauritius is situated 20 degrees South of the Equator and on longitude 57.5 degrees East, approximately 1800 km East of Durban and 6000 km West of Perth.


A central plateau rises to a level of about 600 metres and is marked by deep extinct volcanic craters, cris crossed by rivers, streams and waterfalls. Bordering this tableland are three mountain ranges with fantastically-shaped masses of basalt that testify to the volcanic origin of the island. From these mountains, several peaks emerge:

 

Piton de La Riviere Noire (828 metres), Pieter Both (823 metres) and Le Pouce (812 metres). A few uninhabited islets are scattered around the main island, and Rodrigues, its 10th district lies 600 km north east of Mauritius.


Climate


Mauritius doesn't have extreme temperatures either in summer or winter and is thus considered a year-round destination.


In the central part of the island, at about 600 metres above sea level, temperatures vary from about 18 degrees centigrade in August to about 28 degrees in February. Along coastal areas, the temperature is generally 3-5 degrees higher, and the western and northern regions are generally drier than the East and South.


Occasional cyclones can occur during the wettest months from November to March. Daylight hours are approximately 5.30am to 7pm in summer (November to April) and 6.45am to 5.40pm in winter (May to October).


Time

Mauritius time is 4 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and 3 hours ahead of mid-European time.


Population


Mauritius was uninhabited until its colonisation. The Dutch who first occupied the island for only 70 years left behind a few slaves. The French who colonised the island in the 18th century settled with their slaves brought from Africa and Madagascar.

 

When the British abolished slavery in 1835, they brought in indentured labour from India to work in the sugarcane fields. Chinese and Muslim traders were attracted to these shores in the 19th and early 20th centuries.


Today the population of 1.2 million is made up of people coming from three continents and the blending of these races gives an interesting mixture of every hue and colour. The main religions of Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism are practised with the celebration of every major feast giving rise to colourful events.

In the same area, one can come across a church, a temple, a mosque and a pagoda. Mauritians work, play and pray together demonstrating a harmonious society respectful of each other's religion.


Language


With such a colourful background, many Mauritians are trilingual. English is the official language and is widely understood. French and Creole predominate in everyday life. A number of oriental languages are also spoken.

Employees of the tourism industry are also trained to converse with their guests in several other languages including German, Italian and Spanish.


Economy


Mauritius has one of the strongest economies in Africa with a GDP over $8.13 billion in 2008 and a per capita income close to $12,100. The economy has sustained high 6% annual growth for the last two decades: first driven by sugar, then textiles/apparel and tourism; and more recently by Financial Services and Business Process Outsourcing services in accounting, ICT services and call centres.

Mauritius would also like to become a major Sea Food Hub in the region.


Currency


The monetary unit is the Mauritian Rupee (Rs.) which is divided into 100 cents. The Mauritian Rupee is not an international currency. However, most major currencies can be changed on arrival at the airport, in hotels and banks everywhere on the island. Major credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs easily found.


Accessibility


As a major tourist destination, Mauritius has air connections with major European and African cities as well as Australia and the other islands in the Indian Ocean. Its national carrier, Air Mauritius, services more than 30 destinations.


Visas


Few nationalities need a visa to visit Mauritius. For details, please contact: Passport and Immigration Office, Sterling House, 9 to 11 Lislet Geoffroy street, Port Louis. Tel. (230) 210 9312 - 9319 Fax (230) 210 9322 E-mail: piomain@mail.gov.mu Website: http://passport.gov.mu


International Airport


Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Airport, Plaisance (Code MRU) is 3 km from Mahebourg and 48 km from the capital Port Louis. Facilities include duty-free shops, bars, lounges, banks, information counters and a post office.


Driving


Driving is on the left and car rental companies require that drivers be at least 23 years old and have held a license for more than one year. For a stay of more than one month, an international driving license is required.


Electricity


Power supply throughout the island is 220 volts, and the British 3-pin square plug is the most widely used, although the French 2-pin plug is also used.


What to Wear


Except for business meetings, casual wear is the norm. In the evening, casual smart wear is expected. In the winter months of June, July and August some light woolens, jackets or shawls may be needed.


When visiting places of worship, it is recommended to avoid beachwear and to be respectfully dressed. Leather shoes and belts must be removed when visiting Hindu temples.


The Sega


The sega is the folkloric music and dance of Mauritius. Traditionally, it was performed around a camp fire by slaves who came from Africa and Madagascar. The erotic hip-swaying dance was accompanied by haunting music played on an animal-skin drum called ravane and a metal triangle.

Nowadays, the sega is the crux of any Mauritian festive occasion, and has been adapted for modern musical instruments.

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