Mauritius profile - Timeline

A chronology of key events:

10th century - Phoenicians, Malays, Swahili and Arab seamen visit island but do not settle. Island named Dina Robin by Arab mariners.

1498 - Portuguese explorers stumble upon Mauritius in the wake of Vasco da Gama's voyage around the Cape of Good Hope.

1510 - Portuguese navigator Pedro Mascarenhas visits the island and names it Cirné. It is used as a port of call, but the Portuguese do not establish a permanent settlement.

Early settlement

1598 - Dutch claim the uninhabited island and rename it after their head of state, Maurice, Prince of Orange and Count of Nassau.

1638-58 - Dutch settlement begins, but colony soon fails.

1664-1710 - Second Dutch attempt at colonisation fails. The Dutch withdraw permanently. By this time the dodo - a unique bird found only on Mauritius - has become extinct. Pirates inhabit the island.

1715 - French East India Company claims Mauritius for France, renames it Ile de France.

1721-67 - Settlement begins; Port Louis founded as a base for attacking the British in India.

1767 - French East Indies Company sells Mauritius; control of island transferred to French government.

1796 - Settlers break away from French control when the government in Paris attempts to abolish slavery.

1810 - British forces land in Mauritius after defeating the French in battle at Cap Malheureux.

British rule

1812 - Colonel Draper founds the Mauritius Turf Club, which opens the first racecourse in the southern hemisphere and the second oldest in the world.

1814 - Mauritius, Seychelles and Rodrigues ceded to Britain under Treaty of Paris.

1834 - British abolish slavery. It is phased out on the island under a transition period known as "apprenticeship".

1835 - Indentured labour system introduced. In subsequent decades hundreds of thousands of workers arrive from India.

1847 - Incorrectly-worded Penny Black postage stamps are issued in Mauritius; later they become among the most sought-after stamps in the world.

1866-68 - Malaria epidemic kills more than 40,000 people after Anopheles mosquito accidently introduced.

1876 - Indian rupee becomes official currency.

1912 - Mahatma Gandhi visits.

1910 - Indentured labour system abolished. Between 1834-1910, 451,776 Indians were brought to Mauritius to work on the sugar estates, of which 157,639 returned to India.

1926 - First Indo-Mauritians elected to government council.

1936 - Creole politician Dr Maurice Cure founds Mauritian Labour Party (MLP), or Parti Travailliste.

1937 - Rioters demand better economic conditions and participation in government.

Towards independence

1942 - Donald Mackenzie-Kennedy becomes governor. Introduces consultative committee which for the first time includes representatives from all Mauritian communities.

1948 - New constitution gives the vote to many Indians and Creoles in an enlarged legislature.

1957 - Internal self-government introduced, with an electoral system based on the Westminster model.

1958 - New constitution - all adults over 21 can vote. Island divided into four single-member constituencies.

1959 - First elections under universal adult suffrage won by MLP, led by Seewoosagur Ramgoolam.

1960 - Cyclone Carol devastates island, leaving thousands homeless and prompting a housing revolution.

1964 - Ethnic rioting; Hindus and Creoles clash.

1965 - Constitutional conference held in London to discuss independence.

1966 - Britain drives out some 2,000 residents of the Chagos archipelago, in the Indian Ocean. Many are sent to Mauritius. Britain leases the Chagos islands to the US for 50 years. The US builds a military base on the largest island, Diego Garcia.


1968 - 12 March - Independence.

1969 - Opposition Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM) founded, advocates socialism, led by Paul Berenger.

1971 - First Export Processing Zone created. Textiles sector develops. Between 1971-77, 64,000 jobs are created.

1971 - MMM, backed by unions, calls a series of strikes. State of emergency declared, lasts until 1976. MMM party's leadership imprisoned.

1979 - Cyclone Claudette devastates island.

1979 - Mauritius approaches IMF and World Bank for assistance. Country has deficit of $111 million.

Jugnauth elected

1982 - Sir Anerood Jugnauth becomes prime minister.

1985 - Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, father of nation, dies

1985 - Drugs scandal at Amsterdam airport; four MPs arrested on charges of drug smuggling. Inquiry in 1986 implicates three members of Legislative Assembly. Six more politicians are accused in 1987 of involvement in the affair.

1989 - Stock Exchange opens in Port Louis.


1991 December - Legislative Assembly approves the transition of the nation to a republic within the Commonwealth.

1992 March - Prime Minister Jugnauth declares Mauritius a republic. Legislative Assembly redesignated National Assembly and incumbent governor, General Ringadoo, becomes president.

1992 June - MMM member Cassam Uteem elected president.

1994 - Cyclone Hollanda leaves 1,400 people homeless and causes $81m in damage.

1995 December - MLP leader Navin Ramgoolam becomes prime minister.

1999 February - Creole singer Kaya dies in police custody, prompting four days of rioting among Creole community.

2000 - Mauritius secures a seat on the United Nations Security Council for the first time.

2000 - September - MSM leader Sir Anerood Jugnauth becomes prime minister.

2000 November - High Court in London rules that Britain acted unlawfully in driving the inhabitants of the Chagos archipelago from their homes in 1966. Many of the exiles settled in Mauritius.

2002 February - Cassam Uteem resigns as president, refusing to sign controversial anti-terrorism bill. Vice president also refuses to sign and resigns. Head of legislature becomes acting president and passes legislation into law.

2002 - Karl Hoffman elected president by National Assembly.

2002 - "Cyber Cities" plan launched to create concentrations of hi-tech facilities and boost economy.

2003 - Anerood Jugnauth hands over leadership of MSM to his son, Pravind.

2003 September - Anerood Jugnauth hands over power to Paul Berenger, who becomes the island's first non-Hindu premier.

Labour in power

2005 July - Navin Ramgoolam wins general election, returns as prime minister.

2006 April - One hundred former residents of the Chagos Archipelago - claimed by Mauritius - make a return visit nearly 40 years after being evicted by Britain to make way for a US military base on the island of Diego Garcia. Their legal battle with Britain continues.

2008 May - British House of Lords upholds a UK government appeal against court ruling that families expelled from the Chagos Islands are entitled to return home. The decision ends the Chagossians' long-running UK legal battle to return.

2010 May - Ruling coalition of PM Navin Ramgoolam wins general election.

2010 June - Mauritius, France agree to jointly manage Tromelin, a tiny Indian Ocean island owned by France but claimed by Mauritius.

2010 December - Mauritius launches a legal action contesting Britain's creation of a Marine Protection Area around its Indian Ocean territory of the Chagos Islands, after the website Wikileaks revealed that a UK official thought setting up a marine reserve should end any possibility of displaced islanders being allowed back.

2011 August - Militant Socialist Movement (MSM) quits the ruling coalition in a row over corruption allegations. Its leader Pravind Jugnauth is later arrested.

2012 March - President Anerood Jugnauth steps down saying he wants to return to party politics and challenge the prime minister.

2012 June - Britain signs a deal with Mauritius allowing suspected pirates caught by its Royal Navy to be transferred to the Indian Ocean island to face prosecution.

2012 December - European Court of Human Rights rejects claim by Chagos Islanders against Britain over their expulsion.

2013 March-April - At least 11 people die as sudden rains flood the capital Port Louis. Prime Minister Navin Rangoolam blames climate change.

2013 November - Mauritius pulls out of hosting the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting after boycotting the 2013 event in Sri Lanka over the country's human rights record.

2014 December - The opposition Alliance Lepep, led by ex-President Anerood Jugnauth, wins a landslide victory in parliamentary elections.

2016 November - Britain rules out allowing the Chagos Islanders to return home, angering Mauritius.

2017 June - The UN General Assembly votes overwhelmingly to refer the dispute between Britain and Mauritius over the Chagos islands to the International Court of Justice.

2017 November - Mauritius features in the "Paradise Papers", which reveal the financial dealings of politicians, celebrities, corporate giants and business leaders.

2018 March - President Gurib steps down over an expenses scandal. She denies any wrongdoing.

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