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Places of tourist interest

Port Louis

Capital and main port of Mauritius, Port Louis was founded by the French governor, Mahe de Labourdonnais, in 1735. There are two Cathedrals, a Mosque, a fine Supreme Court, some 18th century Barracks and a Natural History Museum. To see a fascinating cross - section of Mauritian life, visit the lively covered market. The Caudan and Port Louis waterfronts make shopping a pleasurable and leisurely experience. 20 minutes from The Oberoi.

Chamarel (Coloured Earth)

This is a mound of undulating land stretching in contrasting layers of colour, and the patches of blue, green, red and yellow earth are to be the result of weathering. The nearby Chamarel waterfall emerges from the moors and primeval vegetation and is very beautiful. 1 hour from The Oberoi.

IIe Aux Cerfs

Off the east coast of Mauritius, is the island resort Ile Aux Cerfs. The island has two restaurants, a boathouse and miles of beautiful and golden beaches. Lovers of water sports can have a great day out in the sun and sea. 1 Ĺ hour from The Oberoi.

Pamplemousses

These gardens are known to naturalists worldwide for their large collection of exotic plants, including the giant Victoria Amazonica water lilies and many species of palm trees. Of particular interest is the Talipot Palm, which is said to flower once every sixty years and thereafter dies. 15 minutes from The Oberoi.

Grand Bassin

One of the island's two natural lakes is Grand Bassin. It rests in the crater of an extinct volcano and is a place of pilgrimage for a large number of Mauritians of Hindu faith, especially on the occasion of Maha Shivaratree. 1 hour from The Oberoi.

Black River Gorges National Park

This 6,574 hectare park, proclaimed in 1994, protects much of the remaining native forests of Mauritius and provides opportunities for the visitor to enjoy spectacular natural scenery and some of the unique endemic plants and bird life. There are also a number of long walking trails across the region, including one to the island's highest point, Black River Peak at 828 metres. 1 hour from The Oberoi.

History

THE REPUBLIC OF MAURITIUS is a democratic and prosperous country whose entire population has ancestral origins elsewhere: Europe, Africa, India, and China. Until recently, the country's economy was dominated by the production and export of sugar, a legacy of its French and British colonial past. After independence in 1968, government-directed diversification efforts resulted in the rapid growth of tourism and a manufacturing sector producing mainly textiles for export.

Until relatively recent times the island of Mauritius remained unknown to and untouched by the outside world. Only around the year 1,000 did the first Arab sailors set foot on the island.

By the 16th century Mauritius was firmly marked on the nautical charts of European sailors and in 1598 became a Dutch colony. An expedition from the Cape of Good Hope, led by Admiral Van Warwyk, formally took possession of the island and landed the first contingent of slaves.

Not long afterwards, however, the Dutch abandoned the colony, leaving behind only a few planters and slaves. A few fairly uneventful years followed until 1715, when the French, eager for new colonies, took over.

The decline of Napoleonís empire inevitably brought Mauritius within the sphere of influence of Britainís George III. On December 10, 1810, after hard fought battles on land and sea, the French surrendered to a British expeditionary force. In 1814, the Treaty of Paris brought Mauritius formally under the British Crown.

The radical economic and social changes wrought upon Europe by the two world wars were also felt in Mauritius. As the global policy of decolonization preceded so did a local Mauritian conscience of autonomy and democracy. The key figure was Dr. Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, leader of the Labour Party and father of the Mauritian independence, which finally came on 12 March, 1968.

In 1992, Sir Aneerood Jugnauth, Leader of the Mouvement Socialiste Mauricien had achieved a key political objective by converting Mauritius into a republic within the Commonwealth with a president, elected by the national assembly, as head of state.

Under constitutional amendments that came into effect in March 1992, Mauritius is now a republic. Legislative power rests with the unicameral 62-seat National Assembly, which is elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term. Four additional members are appointed by the Supreme Court. The National Assembly elects the President of the Republic who is Head of State. The President appoints the Prime Minister from the Assembly and other ministers on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

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