17 December 2014

Sunrise in Mauritius
Little Mauritius is quite a success story: One of most prosperous and stable democracies in the African region, it gets high marks for the rule of law and free enterprise, without the choking corruption of statism.

Centuries ago Europeans discovered this small, uninhabited island far out in the Indian Ocean and brought African slaves and indentured Indian workers to harvest sugar cane. A few Chinese and Arab merchants soon followed.

The initial century of French rule was so deeply embedded that even though the British ousted the French in 1810, English never quite supplanted French and the Napoleonic code endures. Mauritius became an independent country in 1968.

Under a British cannon once used to keep the French
from returning to Mauritius are the beach chairs to
welcome the many French tourists who now vacation here.

Upscale tourism has become a huge success but the economy has diversified beyond tourism and sugar cane. 

My smart, sweet guide on a day trip around Mauritius
illustrates the melting pot. Her four grandparents
were Indian, Chinese, African, and Franco-Indo-Mauritian.

Only about 40 miles long and 25 miles wide, Mauritius is home of over 1.2 million people. A majority are Indian (and Hindu), about one quarter are of African descent, and the rest are mostly of French or Chinese origin.

Mauritius has a reputation for
racial and religious harmony and there seems to be considerable intermarriage.

Left: Part of the large botanical garden in Mauritius.
Right: One of many Hindu temples for the large Indo-Mauritian population.
Top: Skyline of the surprisingly affluent capital Port Louis.
Bottom: Bustling street market in Port Louis.