The first slaves arrived in Mauritius from Madagascar in 1639, a year after the Dutch East India Company established a settlement on the island, to fell ebony trees and work on the tobacco and sugar cane plantations. When trade was opened up to French nationals in 1769, slaves were brought from other places, including Zanzibar, increasing the population dramatically from 15,000 to 49,000 in just thirty years. During the late eighteenth century, slaves accounted for around eighty percent of the island’s population, and by the early nineteenth century there were 60,000 on the island.

Mauritius was the last place in the British colonies to abolish slavery, on 1 February 1835. At that time, slaves accounted for two-thirds of the population: about fifty percent from Madagascar, forty percent from East Africa and just under seven percent from India. After abolition, a village called Trou Chenilles was established for freed slaves on the southern foot of Le Morne Mountain, which was later moved to Le Morne Village. Today, Le Morne Heritage Trust Fund, Royal Road, Le Morne Village (451 5759; Mon–Sat 10am–3pm, Sun 10am–noon) offer tours led by village guides, custodians of traditions handed down from their slave ancestors, which offer a unique perspective on this largely Creole community.

The abolition of slavery is commemorated at the International Slave Route Monument on the Le Morne Peninsula, where the President recently heralded runaway slaves as Mauritius’s first freedom fighters. Despite this, the island is only gradually coming to terms with its colonial past and the Creole population remain among the poorest and most disadvantaged in Mauritian society.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Mauritius features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Ten perfect birdwatching trips

Ten perfect birdwatching trips

Few travel moments illicit such a thrill as catching sight of a rare or beautiful bird emerging from its natural habitat. Here are a few of our favourite birdwa…

29 Apr 2013 • Site Editor insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs