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History - The British Rule
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The British Period (1810 - 1968)

During the Napoleonic Wars, the British invaded Mauritius in 1810. The British Occupation of the island lasted till 1968 when they granted the country independence.

The only reason for the British to be interested in the island was that it lay along the sea route from England to British India and that the French presence in Mauritius was a threat to British shipping. Indeed, a number of French navy vessels and corsairs harassed British vessels en route to India or to England. The British Admiralty of the time viewed Mauritius as the key to the control of the Indian Ocean and possession of the island became a military imperative.

Once Mauritius taken over, the control of the Indian Ocean by the British Empire can be said to have been complete and remained virtually unchallenged till the entry of Imperial Japan into the Second World War in 1941.

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Just as the French presence was determinant in the making of Mauritius, the British Occupation has shaped tremendously the destiny of this country. Mauritius is one of the few countries in the world to have been colonised by the French and the British successively. Like the French, the British left behind the English language and a system of laws.

But just as important when they departed they left behind a Westminster-type of Government, a Civil Service, a Constitution, a British based educational system and an embryonic welfare system. It goes to the credit of the British coloniser to have also permitted and to a certain extent encouraged the development of a working democracy.

Fortunately for Mauritius, during World War II the island was never attacked by Axis forces. However on several occasions, Japanese or German submarines and surface ships prowled the waters around Mauritius and managed to sink a few merchant ships rendering the sea lanes unsafe.

At the height of Japanese Imperial Power in 1942, the British Colonial authorities did fear a Japanese invasion of either Madagascar or Mauritius itself. But the Japanese defeat at Midway most probably dispelled all fears of imminent invasion.

References

TheInstitute For Environmental and Legal Studies
Les Japonais sont de retour dans l'océan Indien (in French).

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