British Mauritius

Coordinates: 20°12′S 57°30′E / 20.2°S 57.5°E / -20.2; 57.5

Crown Colony
Flag Coat of arms
"Stella Clavisque Maris Indici"  (Latin)
"Star and Key of the Indian Ocean"
God Save the Queen
Location of the Crown Colony of Mauritius
Capital Port Louis
Languages Mauritian creole, English, French, Chagossian creole
Government Crown Colony
  1810–1823 Robert Townsend Farquhar
  1962–1968 John Shaw Rennie
Chief Minister
  1961–1968 Seewoosagur Ramgoolam
Legislature Legislative Assembly
   Established 3 December 1810
  Treaty of Paris 30 May 1814
  Seychelles separated as a crown colony 1903
  Agreement between the British and the French for Tromelin Island 1954
  Detachment of the Chagos Archipelago and BIOT formed 8 November 1965
   Independence 12 March 1968
   1952 2,103.17 km² (812 sq mi)
   1952 est. 516,556 
     Density 245.6 /km²  (636.1 /sq mi)
   1962 est. 701,016 
     Density 333.3 /km²  (863.3 /sq mi)
Currency Mauritian dollar
Mauritian rupee
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Isle de France (Mauritius)
Crown colony of Seychelles
British Indian Ocean Territory
Mauritius (Commonwealth realm)
Today part of  Mauritius
 French Southern and Antarctic Lands
 British Indian Ocean Territory

British Mauritius was a British crown colony.

Isle de France, which consisted of Mauritius and some other islands, had been under French rule since 1715. However, during the Napoleonic Wars, despite the French naval victory in the Battle of Grand Port on 20–27 August 1810, Mauritius was captured on 3 December 1810 by the British under Commodore Josias Rowley. British possession of the island was confirmed four years later by the Treaty of Paris. Nonetheless, French institutions, including the Napoleonic Code of law, were maintained, and the French language was still more widely used than English.

The British administration, with Robert Townsend Farquhar as the first governor, brought about rapid social and economic changes. One of the most important was the abolition of slavery on 1 February 1835. The planters received a compensation of two million pounds sterling for the loss of their slaves, who had been imported from Africa and Madagascar during the French occupation.

The Mauritian Creole people trace their origins to the plantation owners and slaves who worked in the sugar fields. Indo-Mauritians are descended from Indian immigrants who arrived in the 19th century via the Aapravasi Ghat in order to work as indentured laborers after slavery was abolished. Included in the Indo-Mauritian community are Muslims (about 17% of the population) from the Indian subcontinent. In 1885, a new constitution was introduced. The Franco-Mauritian elite controlled nearly all of the large sugar estates and was active in business and banking. As the Indian population became numerically dominant and the voting franchise was extended, political power shifted from the Franco-Mauritians and their Creole allies to the Indo-Mauritians.

Conflicts arose between the Indian community (mostly sugarcane labourers) and the Franco-Mauritians in the 1920s, leading to several (mainly Indian) deaths. Following this, the Mauritius Labour Party was founded in 1936 by Maurice Cure to safeguard the interest of the labourers. Cure was succeeded a year later by Emmanuel Anquetil, who tried to gain the support of the port workers. After his death, Guy Rozemond took over the leadership of the party.

See also

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