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Mauritius

Geography & Topography

Capital: Port Louis

Population: 1,291,456 people

Area: 2040 kmĀ² (787 square miles)

Language: Mauritian Creole, English & French

Ethnic Groups: Mauritian

Religion: Hinduism (52%), Roman Catholic (27.5%), Islam (16.6%) & Other Christians (8.6%)

Currency: Mauritian Rupee

History

Mauritius was known by Arab and Malay sailors as early as the 10th century and was explored by the Portuguese in the 16th century. The small island nation was later colonised in the 17th century by the Dutch who named it after Prince Maurits Van Nassau. Mauritius is located in the Indian Ocean just off the coast of South Africa and 870 kms to the east of Madagascar. It has an ethnically diverse population of 1,286,340 people with roots traced back to nations as diverse as India, continental Africa, France & China.

Performing Arts

Music

Mauritius is most known for Sega music which was introduced by its African ancestors. This music genre is commonly associated with East and South Africa and is the typical music of many of the surrounding islands. Sega music is usually played in a 6/8 tempo and has its own unique accompanying dance forms. An emotional music form, Sega is traditionally played free-style and is known for its expressivity which was originally used to represent the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Besides Sega, Raggae, Zouk & Soukous are other popular genres.

The most recognisable instruments in traditional Mauritian music are:

Ravanne

 

The Ravanne is an instrument traditionally used in Sega music. It is made out of goats skin and is similar to a tambourine. An interesting and unusual fact about the Ravanne is that before playing, the instrument needs to be heated up. The intrument is of African origin.

 

 

 

Bobre

 

The Bobre is comprised of a long wooden stick with a long string made of vegetable fibre attached. The string is struck with a stick in order to create a sound.

Dance

Examples of traditional Mauritian dances are:

Sega Dance

 

 

 

 

Sega is the dance that accompanies the traditional music of the same name. Generally the dance begins at a slow tempo and gradually builds up speed till it reaches a lively and high-spirited speed. Sega dance costumes are extremely bright and colorful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Some interesting facts:

  • Mauritius was the 5th place in the world to issue postage stamps (in 1847)
  • Sugar cane is grown on almost 90% of all agriculutral land and accounts for 25% of the nation’s export earnings
  • Thoroughbred horse racing is a popular past time and the island is home to the Champ De Mars Racecourse where the Maiden Cup is held

 

Mauritian Community in Australia:

 

More information on the Mauritian community: