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Mauritius was known to the Arabs in the 10th century. Discovered in 1505 by the Portuguese navigator, Pedro Mascarenas, the island was occupied by the Dutch (1598-1710), the French (1715-1810) and was ceded to the English in 1814. It gained independence on 12th March 1968 and became a Republic on 12th March 1992.

The island has an area of 1865 km2, with 330 km of coastline almost surrounded by coral reefs, a vast central plateau and impressive mountains. It is located in the south east of the Indian Ocean. The central plateau is studded with extinct volcanic craters where rivers and waterfalls cross.

Mauritius enjoys a relatively mild climate. The most pleasant times to visit the island are between the months of April and June and between September and December. In summer (November to April) the weather is hot and humid with peaks in temperatures occurring in December, January and February. Rainfall is abundant, especially on the central plateau and the highest rainfall normally occurs in the months of February and March. The cyclonic season extends from November to April. Most of the time the cyclones miss Mauritius because of the small size of the island. Prevailing winds blow over the island from the east and south east.

Local currency is the Mauritian Rupee (Rs.). American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted.

GMT +2 (same as South Africa).

Tipping is optional in restaurants, though airport porters expect a little something.

English is the official language and is widely understood and spoken, French and Creole predominate in everyday life.

South African, EU and British passport holders do not require a visa to visit Mauritius. All other visitors should check with the embassy. Visitor’s passports must be valid at least six months after their date of return.

Information courtesy of Mauritius Tourism Office.