Mauritius Independence Day is celebrated annually on 12 March to commemorate the country’s independence from Britain in 1968.
The day also marks the country’s proclamation as a republic within the British Commonwealth in 1992.
Mauritius is a small island nation located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar. The country comprises four islands, with the main island of Mauritius being the most populous.
The island’s strategic location made it a target for European colonial powers who all established settlements on the island at different times.
The country was first occupied by the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch. However, the settlements were unprofitable, and the Dutch soon abandoned the land. The French later occupied the islands, bringing enslaved people from Africa and India to work on the plantations established there.
The British eventually captured the islands during the Napoleonic Wars and converted Mauritius into a plantation colony under the British Empire.
When slavery was abolished, the British government brought labourers from around the world to the islands to work on the plantations. The people of Mauritius were eventually granted universal suffrage, and tensions grew on the island.
On 12 March 1968, Mauritius adopted its new constitution, and the country gained independence as a constitutional monarchy. The late Queen Elizabeth II remained head of state, and Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam became the first Prime Minister of Mauritius.
In the years following independence, Mauritius attempted to diversify its economy beyond sugar production, but progress was limited. A combination of factors, including Cyclone Claudette, falling world sugar prices, and political protests, eventually led to a highly successful programme of economic diversification.
Years later, on 12 March 1992, Mauritius was declared a republic within the British Commonwealth, with a President as head of state.
Today, Mauritius is a thriving multicultural country with a diverse economy that includes tourism, manufacturing, and financial services. The country’s rich culture and traditions are celebrated on Independence and Republic Day, with flag-raising ceremonies, military parades, and live music.