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914
MAURITIUS


verandas, of no particular style of architecture, while the Protestant cathedral was formerly a powder magazine, to which a tower and spire have been added. The Roman Catholic cathedral is more pretentious in style, but is tawdry in its interior. There are, besides the town-hall, Royal College, public offices and theatre, large barracks and military stores. Port Louis, which is governed by an elective municipal council, is surrounded by lofty hills and its unhealthy situation is aggravated by the difficulty of effective drainage owing to the small amount of tide in the harbour. Though much has been done to make the town sanitary, including the provision of a good water-supply, the death-rate is generally over 44 per 1000. Consequently all those who can make their homes in the cooler uplands of the interior. As a result the population of the city decreased from about 70,000 in 1891 to 53,000 in 1901. The favourite residential town is Curepipe, where the climate resembles that of the south of France. It #is built on the central plateau about 20 m. distant from Port Louis by rail and 1800 ft. above the sea. Curepipe was incorporated in 1888 and had a population (1901) of 13,000. On the railway between Port Louis and Curepipe are other residential towns-Beau Bassin, Rose Hill and Quatre Bornes. Mahébourg, pop. (1901), 4810, is a town on the shores of Grand Port on the south-east side of the island, Souillac a small town on the south coast.

Industries.-The Sugar Plantations: The soil of the island is of considerable fertility; it is a ferruginous red clay, but so largely mingled with stones of all sizes that no plough can be used, and the hoe has to be employed to prepare the ground for cultivation. The greater portion of the plains is now a vast su ar plantation. The bright green of the sugar fields is a striking Ieature in a view of Mauritius from the sea, and gives a eculiar beauty and freshness to the prospect. The soil is suitable iigr the cultivation of almost all kinds of tropical produce, and it is to be regretted that the prosperity of the colony depends almost entirely on one article of production, for the consequences are serious when there is a failure, more or less, of the sugar crop. Guano is extensively imported as a manure, and by its use the natural fertility of the soil has been increased to a wonderful extent. Since the beginning of the 20th century some attention has been paid to the cultivation of tea and cotton, with encouraging results. Of the exports, sugar amounts on an average to about~95% of the total. The quantity of sugar exported rose from 102,000 tons in 18 4 to 189,164 tons in 1877. The competition of beet-sugar and the effect of bounties granted by various countries then began to tell on the production in Mauritius, the average crop for the seven years ending 1900-1901 being only 150,449 tons. The Brussels Sugar Convention of 1902 led to an increase in production, the average annual weight of sugar exported for the three years 1904-1906 being 182,000 tons. The value of the crop was likewise seriously affected by the causes mentioned, and by various diseases which attacked the canes. Thus in 1878 the value of the sugar exported was £3,408,000; in 1888 it had sunk to £I,9II, O0O, and in 1898 to £I,632,000. In 1900 the value was £I,922,000, and in 1905 it had risen to £2,172,000. India and the South African colonies between them take some two-thirds of the total produce. The remainder is taken chiefly by Great Britain, Canada and Hong-Kong. Next to sugar, aloe-fibre is the most important export, the average annual export for the five years ending 1906 being 1840 tons. In addition, a considerable quantity of molasses and smaller quantities of rum, vanilla and coco-nut oil are exported. The imports are mainly rice, wheat, cotton goods, wine, coal, hardware and haberdashery, and guano. The rice comes principally from India and. Madagascar; cattle are imported from Madagascar, sheep from South Africa and Australia, and frozen meat from Australia. The average annual value of the exports for the ten years 1896-1905 was £2,153,159; the average annual value of the imports for the same period {,1,453,089. These figures when compared with those in years before the beet and bounty-fed sugar had entered into severe competition with cane sugar, show how greatly the island had thereby suffered. In 1864 the exports were valued at £2,249,000§ in 1868 at £2,339,000; in 1877 at £4,20I,000 and in 1880 at £3,634,000. And in each of the ears named the im orts exceeded 2 000 000 in y P £, ,

value. Nearly all the aloe-fibre exported is taken by Great Britain, and France, while the molasses goes to India. Among the minor exports is that of bambara or sea-slugs, which are sent to Hong-Kong and Singapore. This industry is chiefly in Chinese hands. The great majority of the imports are from Great Britain or British possessions.

The currency of Mauritius is ru ees and cents of a rupee, the Indian rupee (=16d.) being the standiird unit. The metric system of Wei hts and measures has been in force since 1878. Cimmunications.-There is a regular fortnightly steamship service between Marseilles and Port Louis by the Messageries Maritimes, a four-weekly service with Southampton via Cape Town by the Union Castle, and a four-weekly service with Colombo direct by the British India Co.'s boats. There is also frequent communication with Madagascar, Réunion and Natal. The avera e annual tonna e of ships entering Port Louis is about 750,000 of wI1ich five-sevenths is British. Cable communication with Europe, via the Se chelles, Zanzibar and Aden, was established in 1893, and the Nilauritius section of the Cape-Australian cable, via Rodriguez, was completed in 1902.

Railways connect all the principal places and sugar estates on the island. that known as the Midland line, 36 miles long, beginning at Port Louis crosses the island to Mahébourg, passing through Curepipe, where it is 1822 ft. above the sea. There are in all over 120 miles of railway, all owned and worked by the government. The first railway was opened in 1864. The roads are well kept and there is an extensive system of tramways for bringing produce from the sugar estates to the railway lines. Traction engines are also largely used. There is a complete telegraphic and telephonic service. I

Government and Revenue.-Mauritius is a crown colony. The governor is assisted by an executive council of five official and two elected members, and a legislative council of 27 members, 8 sitting ex ojicio, 9 being nominated by the governor and IO elected on a moderate franchise. Two of the elected members represent St Louis, the 8 rural districts into which the island is divided electing each one member. At least one-third of the nominated members must be persons not holding any public office. The number of registered electors in T908 was 6186. The legislative session usually lasts from April to December. Members may speak either in French or English. The average annual revenue of the colony for the ten years 1896-1905, was £608,24 5, the average annual expenditure during the same period £663,606 Up to 1854 there was a surplus in hand, but since that time expenditure has on many occasions exceeded income, and the public debt in 1908 was £1,305,000, mainly incurred however on reproductive works.

The island has largely retained the old French laws, the codes civil, de procedure, du commerce, and d'instruction 'criminelle being still in force, except so far as altered by colonial ordinances. A supreme court of civil and criminal justice was established in 1831 under a. chief judge and three puisne judges. Religion and Education.-The majority of the European inhabitants belong to the Roman Catholic faith. They numbered at the 1901 census 117,102, and the Protestants 6644. Anglicans, Roman Catholics and the Church of Scotland are helped by state grants. At the head of the Anglican community is the bishop of Mauritius; the chief Romanist dignitary is styled bishop of Port Louis. The Mahommedans number over 30,000, but the majority of the Indian coolies are Hindus.

The educational system, as brought into force in 1900, is under a director of public instruction assisted by an advisory committee, and consists of two branches (1) superi0r or secondary instruction, (2) primary instruction. For primary instruction there are government schools and schools maintained by the Roman Catholics, Protestants and other faiths, to which the government gives grants in aid. In 1908 there were 67 government schools with $400 scholars and 90 grant schools with 10,200 scholars, besides Hindu schools receiving no grant. The Roman Catholic scholars number 67-72 %; the Protestants 3-8o%; Mahommedans 8-37%; and Hindus and others 20-11 %. Secondary and higher education is given in the Royal College and associated schools at Port Louis and Curepipe. Degence.-Mauritius occupies an important strategic position on the route between South Africa an India and in relation to Madagascar and East Africa, while in Port Louis it possesses one of the finest harbours in the Indian Ocean. A permanent garrison of some 3000 men is maintained in the island at a cost of about £180,000 per annum. To the cost of the troops Mauritius contributes 5% % of its annual revenue-about £30,000

History.-Mauritius appears to have been unknown to European nations, if not to all other peoples, until the year 1505, when it was discovered by Mascarenhas, a Portuguese navigator. It had then no inhabitants, and there seem to be no traces of a previous occupation by any people. The island was retained for most of the 16th century by its discoverers, but they made no settlements in it. In 1 598 the Dutch took possession, and named the island “ Mauritius, ” in honour of their stadtholder, Count Maurice of Nassau. It had been previously called by the Portuguese “ Ilha do Cerné, ” from the belief that it was the island so named by Pliny. But though the Dutch built a fort at Grand Port and introduced a number of slaves and convicts they made no permanent settlement in Mauritius, finally abandoning the island in 1710. From 1715 to 1767 (when the French government assumed direct control) the island was held by agents of the French East India Company, by whom its name was again changed to “Ile de France.” The Company was fortunate in having several able men as governors of its colony, especially the celebrated Mahé de Labourdonnais (q.v.), who made sugar 1