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March 12, 1968: Mauritius Celebrates Independence from Britain

flag of mauritius

Independence Day of Mauritius: March 12

Independence Day is a public holiday in Mauritius

Mauritius celebrates their independence from the United Kingdom annually on March 12. Mauritius was jostled between the hands of the Dutch, French, and later by the British after the Napoleonic War. Mauritius gained its freedom when United Kingdom granted its complete independence on March 12, 1968.

Port Louis is the country’s capital with population of more than 1,288,000 according to the 2008 census. Creole, French, and English are among the languages spoken in the island nation. The country is home to the extinct flightless bird known as ‘dodo’.

History of Mauritius Independence Day

Mauritius was an uninhabited island until the arrival of the Europeans in the 16th century; among them were the Dutch, French, the Portuguese and the British. But even before the Europeans permanently settled to colonize the region, the island is already regularly visited both by the Arab and Malay traders and sailors.

The Dutch are the first Europeans who were believed to have set foot on the island in 1638. They named the island Mauritius in honor of the Prince Maurice of Nassau of Netherlands. The Dutch abandoned Mauritius in 1710 when they ruled that the climactic condition in the country is not suited for settlement.

Given its strategic position and proximity to the nearby island of Île Bourbon (present day Réunion), France took control of the country in 1715 changing the country’s name to Île de France (Isle of France). France managed the island so well that the island became one of the most economic powerhouses in the Indian Ocean region during that time.

During the ensuing Napoleonic Wars between 1803 and 1815, the islands have eventually fallen in the hands of the British under the Treaty of Paris. However, laws, languages, and other French institutions in the islands were maintained according to the treaty. Under the British rule, the name of the Island nation was reverted back to Mauritius.

After the institution of Legislative Assembly in 1947, Mauritius started gaining momentum towards its attempt to gain independence. In 1967, election was won by a confederation of three political Hindu parties until it eventually gained independence from the British Crown on March 12, 1968 with Seewoosagur Ramgoolam becoming the first prime minister of the land. Mauritius remained under Commonwealth realm for more than two decades (24 years) before it was eventually proclaimed an independent republic on March 12, 1992.

Mauritius Independence Day: Traditions, Customs and Activities

The people of Mauritius celebrate independence with the traditional hoisting of the flag at the Champ-de-Mars in Port-Louis followed by speeches from government leaders. Parades with people holding the Mauritian flag swarm the street along with street party playing loud music.

Independence Day is one of the most important bank holidays in the country. People use this time for family bonding; visiting the local malls and parks and spending time in the wonderful beaches of Mauritius.

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