Mauritius was colonized by the Netherlands in 1598, who named the island after Prince Maurice of Orange (lat. Mauritius). Before the arrival of the Dutch, Portugal had used the island as a military base. When the Dutch left Mauritius in 1710, it was first occupied by the French and conquered by the British hundred years later. Mauritius gained its independence from the United Kingdom on 12 March 1968 and joined the Commonwealth of Nations the same year. On 12 March 1992 Mauritius became an independent parliamentary republic after the adoption of a new constitution. Consequently, the role of head of state formally shifted from Queen Elizabeth II to the then Governor, General Veerasamy Ringadoo, who was replaced in June 1992 by the newly elected President Cassam Uteem. Since 2015 Ms Ameenah Gurib-Fakimis is the President of Mauritius.
Relations between Austria and Mauritius are amicable and of increasing intensity. On 5 March 2014 Ambassador Öppinger-Walchhofer presented her credentials to the then President of Mauritius, H.E. K. Purryag. During this first visit, she also held talks with Deputy Prime Minister Hon. XL Duval, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. A. Boolell, Trade and Industry Minister Hon S. Abd Sayed-Hossen and the Presidents of the Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Investors. An exchange of ideas with the President of Parliament was also part of the program as well as a conversation with the head of the opposition party and various ambassadors. Since on the one side Mauritius plans to foster tourism and on the other side Vienna presents a European ‘hub’ for passengers from eastern European countries, Austrian Airlines decided to resume their direct flights from Vienna to Port Louis on 29 October 2015. An aviation agreement between Austria and Mauritius was initialed on 19 November 2014 and provisionally entered into force on the same day. The agreement was signed on 14 December 2015. An agreement on the exchange of tax information (Tax Information Exchange Agreement - TIEA) according to OECD standards was signed on 10 March 2015 and entered into force on 1 January 2016. About 50 Austrians live in Mauritius. In addition, approximately 17.000 Austrians tourists visit the island every year.
Bilaterale Air Transport Agreement
On 14 December, 2015, the Ambassador of Austria, Brigitte Öppinger-Walchshofer and the then High Commissioner of Mauritius in Pretoria, P. Vyapoory, signed a bilateral Air Transport Agreement. Austrian Airlines introduced direct non-stop flights from Vienna to Port Louis at the end of October 2015.
Ambassador Brigitte Öppinger-Walchshofer and the then High Commissioner of Mauritius in South Africa, H.E. P P Vyapoory, exchanged the ratification documents for the bilateral Agreement on the Exchange of Information in Tax Questions. The ceremony took place in the Residence of Austrian Ambassador in Pretoria in October 2015
On 4 September 2014, the chambers of commerce of Austria and Mauritius concluded an agreement on intensified co-operation. In 2016 the Austrian exports amounted to € 6.15 million and consisted mainly of machines, boilers, glass objects, and beverages whereas the Austrian imports stood at € 6.15 million, consisting predominantly of sugar, clothing and jewelry.
No Austrian developing programme is currently in place for Mauritius. However, in 2015 Mauritius received Official Development Assistance (ODA) amountingto € 14.082,89. The Austrian NGO SOS Children's Villages runs two children’s villages (Beau Bassin and Bambous), one youth center, two kindergartens and one social center in Mauritius.
Mauritius is member of UNESCO since 1968. The goal of the island’s Ministry of Art and Culture is primarily the harmonious exchange between the different cultural groups and the exchange with their regions of origin (India, Africa, China, Europe).