Mauritius is a volcanic island in the Indian Ocean, off the East coast of Madagascar. Known for its ethnic mix, the population here is made up of Europeans, Africans and Asians. Mauritius is also known for its political stability, having one of the most successful democracies in the world, preserving its image of an African success story. The county’s main industries are sugar exports and tourism, with Mauritian textiles, banking and business outsourcing also now bringing the country success.
First a Dutch colony, Mauritius was seized by the French and then the British in 1810. After gaining independence in 1968 it became a republic in 1992. The main languages spoken here are Mauritian Creole, French and English and because the population here is so varied, some Asian languages also make up the island’s linguistic mosaic. The tropical climate, clear and warm sea waters and the existence of many man-made and natural attractions makes tourism here a leading asset. Mauritius is now considered one of the top luxury holiday destinations in the world, having one of the highest rates of returning visitors. The island is also well known as the only home of the Dodo, a large flightless bird that became extinct not long after the initialcolonisation.
Culture in Mauritius involves the blending of various ethnic groups and their distinctive cultural traditions. There are Hindu, Chinese, Muslim and Christian festivals held every year.Music is also widely prevalent in the form of a local folklore called Séga, composed ofinstrumentssuch as the rattle (ormaravanne) and thegoatskin drum. The most popular singer of Mauritius was Kaya, who created the 'seggae' style: a fusion of sega and reggae. Kaya was an idol in his country, not only because his music transcended cultural barriers and united the people, but also because he passionately campaigned for the rights of the Creoles. In 1999, he was arrested after singing at a concertfor the decriminalization of ganja. Beaten up by police guards, he was found dead in his prison cell. This led to one of the major social upheavals in the history of the island.
As with the rest of the social and cultural characteristics, literature and film in Mauritius is diverse, and presented in French, English and Creole. In 2008 Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio received the Nobel Prize in Literature. His most celebrated work isLe Proces-Verbal (The Interrogation).Other famous Mauritian authors are Julia Blackburn with The Book of Colour, Nathacha Appanah with The Last Brother and Bernardin de Saint Pierre with Journey to Mauritius. There have also been many films and TV programmes set here, with the most popular being the French Film My Father the Hero and the local production Benares, based on the novel by Barlen Pyamootoo. Mauritius is also a popular setting for Bollywood films.