History of Mauritius

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The known history of Mauritius begins with its discovery by Europeans and its appearance on maps in the early sixteenth century. Mauritius was successively colonized by the Dutch, the French and the British, and became independent in 1968.

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Discovery

It has been frequently hypothesized that Mauritius was first discovered by the Arabs, who named the island Dina Harobi. The first historical evidence of the existence of an island now known as Mauritius is on a map produced by the Italian cartographer Alberto Cantino in 1502.[1] Cantino shows three islands which are thought to represent the Mascarenes (Reunion, Mauritius and Rodrigues) and calls them Dina Margabin, Dina Harobi and Dina Morare. What is known is that the medieval Arab world called the Indian Ocean island region Waqwaq[citation needed].

Portuguese sailors (1507–1513)

Mauritius was discovered and visited by the Portuguese between 1507 and 1513.

An official world map by Diogo Ribeiro described “from west to east, the first island, ‘’Mascarenhas’’, the second, ‘’Santa Apolonia’’ and the third, ‘’Domingo Froiz’’.[2] The three islands (Réunion, Mauritius and Rodrigues) were discovered some years earlier by chance during an exploratory expedition of the coast of the Golf of Bengal led by Tristão da Cunha. The expedition ran into a cyclone and was forced to change course. Thus, the ship ‘’Cirne’’ of the captain Diogo Fernandes Pereira, came into view of Réunion island on 9 February 1507. They called the island Santa Apolonia ("Saint Apollonia") in honor of that day’s saint. Mauritius was discovered during the same expedition and received the name of ‘’Cirne’’ and Rodrigues that of ‘’Diogo Fernandes’’.[3] Five years later, the islands were visited by Dom Pedro de Mascarenhas[4] who left the name Mascarene for the whole region. The Portuguese took no interest in these isolated islands. They were already established in Asia in Goa, on the coast of Malabar, on the island of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and on the Malaysian coast.

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