Useful Notes: Mauritius

Mauritius is a tiny island nation southeast of Africa. Itís a growing economy, considered one of the best in Africa, with an upper-high income. It has no permanent army and thanks to British and French legacy, it has both English and French as official languages.

The island was practically uninhabited until the Dutch came in the 17th century, but harsh conditions forced them to abandon the island. The French arrived some years after that and took control of it (they already controlled the rest of the neighborhood anyway) and kept it until the Napoleonic Wars, when the British took it. The country achieved its independence on 1968, when it became part of The Commonwealth of Nations. It stayed this way until 1992, when it became a republic.

The Dutch, even though they didnít stay for long, left two indelible marks on the country. The first of them was the sugar cane, which continues to be the countryís main export. The second was the complete annihilation of one of its natural residents, a bird all people know very well from the media, even though nobody has seen one — the dodo. This bird, endemic to Mauritius, was big, heavy, incapable of flying and didnít appear to be too smart, so the Dutch named it "dodo", referring to its simpleton attitude. Given its natural dopey-ness, they didnít take too long to hunt it to complete extinction. That didnít stop the bird from reaching memetic status, of course, and since then it has appeared everywhere, including Alice in Wonderland and the Looney Tunes, among others; it even appears in the coat of arms of the country. A huge achievement for a bird that seems dumber than a turkey.

Recent studies suggest that the dodo actually disappeared because of the destruction of its habitat and vermin brought by humans (rats, cats, pigs and so on) rather than from hunting. Contemporary accounts all mention how awful and unedible the dodo's flesh tasted.

The Mauritian flag
The flag's red, blue, yellow and green stripes symbolize the blood of freedom fighters, the Indian Ocean, the light of independence, and the island's lush vegetation, respectively.