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The country of Mauritius is considered one of the most beautiful islands in the world. It is part of Africa, simply because is the closest to the African continent.
It’s much larger than people think, about 1.969 km². It’s got golden sandy beaches and undamaged coral reefs, but also volcanoes you can climb.
There’s more to Mauritius than a beach holiday, though the sun shines here often, the beaches are golden, the water is warm, and the coral reefs with fish and sea turtles are calling you name. But inland you can go for great hikes and even climb dormant volcanoes.
The island is around 855 kilometres away from Madagascar, and about 1.800 kilometres east of the mainland of Africa. The island La Reunion is about 200 kilometres away.
The island is surrounded by shallow coral reefs. Where you can enter the crystal clear water to spot the fish and other sea creatures. On the coral reefs of Mauritius you'll see lots of fish and sea turtles.
You can hike well in the hinterland, it's even possible to climb some old volcanoes. There are various hiking routes to discover in the striking green countryside of Mauritius.
The lovely Chamarel Waterfall is 83 meters high. The waterfall is beautifully situated in the green and is easy to reach. From Chamarel you can visit the waterfall yourself or with a guide.
The history of Mauritius is special. As far as is known, Mauritius has no indigenous population. The Portuguese arrived in the early sixteenth century, but did not find any people living on the island. That is why nothing is known before that time.
Remarkably, the Portuguese did not settle in Mauritius. According to their reports, the island was used as a stopover during their trade voyages to the east. The Portuguese did not call the island Mauritius, but Cirne. That means swan in Portuguese.
What few people know is that it was the Dutch who first settled on Mauritius. Although in 1638 it was only a few people. They named it after Maurits van Oranje, then the Prince of Orange. The Dutch lived there until the beginning of the eighteenth century.
A hurricane caused major damage, so the Dutch did not want to rebuild everything. As a result, the V.O.C. chose another place; Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. And so in 1710 the inhabitants moved to this now world famous place in Southern Africa.
After the Dutch came the French. They colonised the country in 1721. The strategic location to the Far East was also the reason for them. They introduced slavery; most slaves came from Madagascar and the African mainland. The current population is largely descended from these slaves.
A unique animal in Mauritius is the Seychelles giant tortoise, which is also found in the Seychelles. You can encounter these immense animals in various places in the wild. It's also possible to visit special rehabilitation centers.
Mauritius had various types of animals that only lived on the island. Including the famous but now extinct dodo. The Dutch colonists played a leading role in the tragic fate of this animal. The dodo was a unique bird belonging to the pigeon family. According to evolutionary scientists, he had forgotten to fly because he could find food on the ground in Mauritius.
The animal could therefore only move on foot. The Dutch who came here didn't hunt the bird. They called him the disgusting bird because his meat was far from tasty. But the Dutch did bring pigs to the island. While rats were also on board the ship and moved across the island at lightning speed.
The pest animals quickly killed the dodos, the bird was no game for these animals. The dodo probably became extinct between 1680 and 1690. Today, the bird symbolises the disappearance of animal species as a result of human actions.
The island is located at the height of Mozambique and Madagascar. The island in the Indian Ocean is approximately 855 km east of Madagascar, and approximately 1,800 km east of mainland Africa. The island of La Reunion is about 200 kilometers away. Because the continent of Africa is the closest, Mauritius is counted among the African countries.
You can visit Mauritius in combination with the French island of Reunion or the Seychelles. The Seychelles is really very different and La Reunion is even rougher, including a working volcano.