- An island of only 650 square miles directly east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Although it had been settled for less than 400 years, Mauritius was visited by the Arabs before the tenth century, the Malays in the 1400s, and the Portuguese in 1510. It was occupied in 1598 by the Dutch, who named it after Prince Maurice of Nassau. The Dutch left in 1710, and in 1715 the French took possession, renaming it Ile de France. The French built a harbor in the island called Port Louis, which became the capital of Mauritius and an important center for trade, privateering, and naval expeditions against British vessels on their way to and from India. Mauritius was captured by the British in 1810, during the Napoleonic Wars, and was formally ceded to Britain in 1814. To offset the labor problem arising from the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, the French planters of the sugarcane were allowed to import indentured laborers from India, whose descendants constitute nowadays the majority of the population. Mauritius achieved independence on March 12, 1968.FURTHER READING:Simmons, Smith Adele. Modern Mauritius: The Politics of Decolonization. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982;Wright, Carol. Mauritius Newton Abbot . Devon: David & Charles Limited, 1974.MOSHE TERDMAN
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.