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Notes on the Geography of Mauritius: Mauritius 1: Port Louis: Photo 1

world pictures Mauritius: Mauritius 1: Port Louis

Not what you expected? Well, Mauritius is all of 40 miles north to south and less than 30 east to west. Mind, it feels a lot bigger because there's a lot of topographic variation packed into the place, most of which is pretty empty. There are 1.3 million residents, but more than half are crowded into the capital city and its suburbs.

Here's the center of that capital, named for Louis XV, which brings us to the island's perplexing history. Apart from some escaped slaves seeking refuge, there was no one on the island when the French arrived in 1723. They held on until 1810, when the Brits took over. They in turn stayed until 1968. Do the math: you'd think just from the brevity of French rule that the island would have gone over to English. Not a prayer. Somehow, the French elite co-opted the English. (Don't you love that loathsome word?) My guess is that the English officers enjoyed the opportunity to display their schooling.

Anyway, we're on a hill called Petite Montague. Behind us is La Citadelle or Fort Adelaide, never used. That's Signal Hall across the way. Out there on a finger reaching into the sea you can see the white roof of the bulk sugar terminal built in 1980.

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