Port-Louis, the Capital of Mauritius. *Photo from Wikipedia
March 12 is National Day, celebrates the independence of Mauritius from the UK in 1968.
The island of Mauritius was visited during the Middle Ages by the Arabs and then by the Portuguese. The island was uninhabited until the Dutch Republic established a colony in 1638, with the Dutch naming the island after Prince Maurice van Nassau. The Dutch colony was abandoned in 1710, and, five years later, the island became a French colony and was named Isle de France. Due to its strategic position, Mauritius was known as the “star and key” of the Indian Ocean.
Mauritius became an important base on the trade routes from Europe to the East before the opening of the Suez Canal and was involved in the long power struggle between the French and the British. The French won the Battle of Grand Port, their only naval victory over the British during these wars, but they could not prevent the British from landing at a village in Mauritius three months later. Under British rule, the island became the Empire’s main sugar-producing colony.
In the 20th century, movements to improve labor laws and introduce political reforms began to be organized, a process that accelerated after World War II. The country became an independent state on March 12, 1968, following the adoption of a new constitution. In 1992, Mauritius became a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations.
Mauritius, officially the Republic of Mauritius, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometers (1,200 mi) off the southeast coast of the African continent.