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Rodrig (Morisyen)
Autonomous outer island
Flag of Rodrigues
Official logo of Rodrigues
"Travail, Solidarité, Fierté" (French)
"Labour, Solidarity, Pride"
Anthem: "Motherland"
Location of Rodrigues in the Indian Ocean.
Location of Rodrigues in the Indian Ocean.
Coordinates: 19°43′S 63°25′E / 19.717°S 63.417°E / -19.717; 63.417
Country Mauritius
CapitalPort Mathurin
 • BodyRegional Assembly
 • Chief CommissionerJohnson Roussety
 • Chief ExecutiveJean Claude Pierre-Louis
 • Minister for RodriguesPravind Jugnauth
 • Total108 km2 (42 sq mi)
 (2014)[note 1]
 • Total41,669[1]
 • Density386/km2 (1,000/sq mi)
 • Vernacular languages
Time zoneUTC+4 (MUT)
ISO 3166 codeMU-RO
Calling code+230
CurrencyMauritian rupee (MUR)
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy (AD)
Drives onleft

Rodrigues (French: Île Rodrigues [il ʁɔdʁiɡ]; Creole: Rodrig) is a 108 km2 (42 sq mi) autonomous outer island of the Republic of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, about 560 km (350 mi) east of Mauritius.[2] It is part of the Mascarene Islands, which include Mauritius and Réunion. Like Agaléga, Rodrigues is a constituent island of the Republic of Mauritius, under the Constitution of Mauritius and still remains, as explicitly defined by the same Constitution, part of the Sovereignty of Mauritius, together with the following islands: "Agalega, Tromelin, Cargados Carajos (Saint Brandon), Chagos Archipelago ... Diego Garcia and other islands included in the State of Mauritius".

Rodrigues is of volcanic origin and is surrounded by coral reef, and some tiny uninhabited islands lie just off its coast. The island used to be the tenth District of Mauritius; it gained autonomous status on 10 December 2002, and is governed by the Rodrigues Regional Assembly. The capital of the island is Port Mathurin. The islands of Rodrigues, Agaléga and Saint Brandon form part of the larger territory of the Republic of Mauritius.

Its inhabitants are Mauritian citizens. As of 2014, the island's population was about 41,669, according to Statistics Mauritius.[1] Most of the inhabitants are of African descent. Its economy is based mainly on fishing, farming, handicraft and a developing tourism sector.[4]

Etymology and history

See also: History of Mauritius

Rodrigues was named after Portuguese explorer Diogo Rodrigues, who first came upon the uninhabited island in 1528, under direction of Portuguese Viceroy Pedro Mascarenhas (namesake of the Mascarene Islands). Many maps also describe it as Diego Roiz. From the 10th century, Arabs are known to have visited the Mascarene Islands. The Cantino planisphere of c. 1500 and some other contemporary maps clearly show the three islands of the Mascarenes as Dina Arobi (or Harobi), Dina Margabin and Dina Moraze. These are apparently corrupted transliterations or transcriptions of the Arabic ديفا هاراب Diva Harab ("Desert Island"), ديفا مغربين Diva Maghrebin ("Western Island") and ديفا ماشريق Diva Mashriq ("Eastern Island"). While the second clearly refers to Réunion, sources disagree about which of the other is Mauritius and which one Rodrigues, which are both to the east of Réunion and arranged in a somewhat stylised way on these maps. However, even in its original state, Rodrigues had some karst, while Mauritius even after suffering 500 years of deforestation can by no means be called "desert" even in a colloquial sense.[5]

The island was located again in February 1507. Part of the fleet of Afonso de Albuquerque and Tristão da Cunha, Diogo Fernandes Pereira's ship Cisne (Swan) spotted Réunion on 9 February after a cyclone had diverted their course forcing them to go around Madagascar, unlike the rest of the fleet. It has also been opined that this was due to a navigational error by Afonso de Albuquerque. The other two islands were subsequently rediscovered. The initial name was Diogo Fernandes; Domingo Froiz was given as a name some years later, and by 1528 it had been again renamed after the Portuguese navigator Dom Diogo Rodrigues and has remained so since. The orthography has been less stable at first, with the name being transcribed Diogo Rodríguez (Spanish maps), Diego Roiz, Diego Ruys (Dutch maps) (or even Diego Ruy's Island), Dygarroys or Bygarroys. Some early French sources called it Île Marianne.[citation needed]

Due to the island lying far off the beaten track of seafarers at that time, it received few visits. From 1601, the Dutch began visiting the island somewhat more regularly for fresh supplies of food. In 1691, the Huguenot François Leguat and seven companions landed on the island, intending to set up a farming colony of Protestant refugees. Farming was not successful, but there was an abundance of tortoises, turtles, birds, fish and other seafood.[citation needed]

During the 18th century, several attempts were made by the French to develop the island. African slaves (ancestors of the present population) were brought to Rodrigues to develop stock-breeding and farming. In 1735 a permanent French settlement was established, subordinated to Île Bourbon.[6]

In 1809, after a brief battle with the French, British troops took possession of Rodrigues.[7] After British occupation, slavery was eventually abolished in 1834. By 1843, the population had declined to a low of 250.[citation needed]

In 1883, the eruption of the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa was heard at Rodrigues Island and it remains the furthest point, at almost 4,800 km (3,000 mi), at which the explosion was heard.[8] The sound was described as "the roar of heavy guns". Naval ships were ordered to investigate as it was feared the sound was due to a ship in distress firing its guns. The noise remains the loudest sound in recorded history.[citation needed]

In September 1897, solo sailor Joshua Slocum spent eight days on the island. He would later write, "At Rodriguez one may now find every convenience for filling pure and wholesome water in any quantity. Governor Roberts having built a reservoir in the hills, above the village, and laid pipes to the jetty, where, at the time of my visit, there were five and a half feet at high tide. In former years well-water was used, and more or less sickness occurred from it. Beef may be had in any quantity on the island, and at a moderate price. Sweet potatoes were plentiful and cheap; the large sack of them that I bought there for about four shillings kept unusually well. I simply stored them in the sloop's dry hold. Of fruits, pomegranates were most plentiful; for two shillings I obtained a large sack of them, as many as a donkey could pack from the orchard, which, by the way, was planted by nature herself."[9]

Early in 1968, HMS Cambrian, which was part of the Beira Patrol following the Unilateral Declaration of Independence of Rhodesia, was diverted to Rodrigues to quell a reported uprising by some of the populace. The uprising consisted of a number of individuals who had been arrested by the local authorities for breaking into a warehouse and appropriating a supply of sweet potatoes. Other locals went to the authorities and by violence released the arrested persons. At this point, it is believed that the authorities requested assistance which was provided by HMS Cambrian. On her early morning arrival, the ship's 4.5" guns were fired (with blanks, it is believed) and an armed landing party was provided. This resulted in the offenders being rounded up and imprisoned again.[10]


Calcarenitic shore of Rodrigues island, at Pointe Coton
A treeless landscape from the island

Rodrigues is a volcanic island rising from a ridge along the edge of the Mascarene Plateau. The tectonically active Rodrigues Triple Point lies on the sea-floor nearby. Rodrigues is only 1.5 million years old, even if the plateau under the lagoon surrounding Rodrigues may be much more ancient than the island.[11] Over time Rodrigues has developed a unique environment, including many endemic species.

Rodrigues is situated about 560 kilometres (350 mi) to the east of Mauritius. It is about 18 km (11 mi) long and 6.5 km (4.0 mi) wide with an area of 108 km2 (42 sq mi).[2][12] The shape is that of a whale back with a central ridge and deep cut valleys. The island is hilly with a central spine culminating in the highest peak, Mountain Limon at 398 m (1,306 ft). Rodrigues is the only Mascarene island with extensive limestone deposits and caves. A large fringing reef surrounds the island forming a lagoon within which lie eighteen small islets.[13][14]

The coral reef of Rodrigues is of particular interest as it is self-seeding – it receives no coral zooplankton from elsewhere. This has led to an overall species-poor but highly adapted ecosystem. A species of coral, two species of Pomacentrus damselfish and many species of crustaceans are found only on Rodrigues' reefs.[15]


The isolation and location of the island give a microclimate specific to Rodrigues, with two seasons. Rodrigues enjoys a mild tropical maritime climate with persistent trade winds blowing throughout the year. Mean summer temperature is 25.9 °C (78.6 °F) and mean winter temperature is around 22.3 °C (72.1 °F). The temperature difference between summer and winter is 3.6 °C. January to March are the hottest months and August is the coolest month. The wettest month is February; September and October are the driest months. The climate is hotter and drier than in Mauritius. Cyclones may arise from November to April, and Rodrigues is more often hit than Mauritius.[16]

Climate data for Rodrigues
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 33.9
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 29.2
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 23.6
Record low °C (°F) 18.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 150.0
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 12 13 13 13 12 13 15 13 9 8 7 8 136
Average relative humidity (%) 79 81 80 79 75 74 75 74 74 74 76 77 76
Mean monthly sunshine hours 275.9 240.1 257.3 243.0 244.9 219.0 232.5 244.9 237.0 275.9 273.0 285.2 3,028.7
Mean daily sunshine hours 8.9 8.5 8.3 8.1 7.9 7.3 7.5 7.9 7.9 8.9 9.1 9.2 8.9
Source: Mauritius Meteorological Services[16]


An endemic bird species, the Rodrigues warbler (Acrocephalus rodericanus) in the Grande Montagne area, Rodrigues

Rodrigues was characterised by endemic plant and animal species in abundance, but since the seventeenth century much of its biodiversity has been eradicated. The island was home to such now-extinct endemic species of birds as the Rodrigues solitaire (Pezophaps solitaria) and the Rodrigues night heron (Nycticorax megacephalus). An endemic species of bat, the Rodrigues flying fox, is currently listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. There are two remaining endemic bird species: the Rodrigues fody and the Rodrigues warbler, both are listed as near threatened.[citation needed]

To restore some forest areas, Grande Montagne, Anse Quitor (with neighbouring François Leguat Giant Tortoise Reserve) and two islets, Île aux Sables and Île aux Cocos have been declared nature reserves (under the Forest and Reserves Act 1983).[17] Endangered plants on the reserves include Zanthoxylum paniculatum, Polyscias rodriguesiana, Badula balfouriana, and Gouania leguatii.[18][19]

Government and politics

Rodrigues Regional Assembly

The island of Rodrigues is a constituency of the Republic of Mauritius and is dependent on the latter. However, on 20 November 2001, the Mauritius National Assembly unanimously adopted two laws giving Rodrigues its autonomy, creating a decentralised government system. This new legislation has allowed the implementation of a regional assembly in Rodrigues constituting 18 members and an executive council headed by a Chief Commissioner. The council meets every week to make decisions, draw up laws and manage the budget. The Chief Commissioner has the main task of informing the Mauritian Prime Minister of the management of the island's concerns. The last election of the Rodriguan Regional Assembly was held on 27 February 2022. The Alliance (UPR/MIR/PSMD/FPR ) party was the winner and obtained nine seats, while the Organisation du Peuple de Rodrigues (OPR) obtained eight. The President acts as head of state and the Chief Commissioner as head of government on Rodrigues.[20] The current chief commissioner is Roussety Johnson and the Chief Executive of Rodrigues is Pierre Louis Jean Claude.[21]

Electoral regions

The island includes six electoral regions: La Ferme (Region 1), Marechal (Region 2), Saint Gabriel (Region 3), Baie aux Huitres (Region 4), Port Mathurin (Region 5) and Grande Montagne (Region 6). Rodrigues Regional Assembly election are held every five years.


Rodrigues is divided into 14 municipalities or zones. For statistical purposes, the zones are further subdivided into a total of 182 localities. The zones have between a minimum of six localities (La Ferme) and maximum of 22 (the capital Port Mathurin).[22]

Zone Nr. Municipality Population[note 1]
5 Port Mathurin 5,929
8 Lataniers-Mont Lubin 3,806
9 Petit Gabriel 3,658
12 Rivière Cocos 2,893
10 Mangues-Quatre Vents 2,870
11 Plaine Corail-La Fouche Corail 2,832
13 Port Sud-Est 2,717
4 Oyster Bay 2,594
7 Roche Bon Dieu-Trèfles 2,059
14 Coromandel-Graviers 1,944
1 Piments-Baie Topaze 1,445
2 La Ferme 1,112
3 Baie Malgache 1,076
6 Grand Baie-Montagne Goyaves 844
  Rodrigues 35,779


The population estimate (as of 18 November 2022) for the island of Rodrigues was 43,650.[23] The main religion is Christianity, dominated by Roman Catholicism with small minorities of other Christian branches, as well as Jehovah's Witnesses, and there are also Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. Most of the inhabitants are of African descent and there is a minority of mixed-race peoples,[clarification needed] descendants of the first European settlers.

The main language is Rodriguan Creole, but English and French are most used as the languages of government administration, the courts and business.[4] Rodriguan Creole is very similar to Mauritian Creole, though some words are pronounced differently. People born in Rodrigues island are called Rodriguans.


The education system in Rodrigues is similar to that throughout the rest of Mauritius. The government provides free education to students up to the tertiary level. Education is taught mainly in English.


Rodrigues is served by Sir Gaëtan Duval Airport in Plane Corail, with regular flights to Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport in Plaisance.


Cattle grazing in a hillside field overlooking Rivière Cocos.
Small-scale cattle rearing contributes to the economy of Rodrigues.

The economy of Rodrigues is mostly dependent on Mauritius. The main sources of income and economic activity are tourism, fishing, agriculture (especially of onions, garlic and chilli), and animal rearing. The handicraft industry has proven to be beneficial to the economy of the island. However, the income derived from the export of sea products, cattle, and food crops is smaller than the costs of imported products, creating a deficit. It has a special relationship with English-speaking countries, such as England in the United Kingdom, Australia and Ireland.[24] [25]

As of 2020, Gross National Income per capita was approximately $16,400.[26]


Cultural awakening which occurred at the end of the 1970s allowed the construction and consolidation of the cultural identity of Rodrigues through the development of these various elements, which form the base of the culture of every nation: food, music, and crafts

Music and folklore

The traditional music of the island is known as Sega Tambour. The music has an accentuated beat, usually accompanied by an accordion, clapping and the use of improvised percussion instruments like bamboo. The folk dance music is similar to polkas, quadrilles, waltzes and Scottish reels.[27]


Rodrigues cuisine consists of dishes from local products: fruit, vegetables, seafood (fish, octopus, crab, shrimp, lobster) and meat. National dishes include sausages with kreolinės, rougaille sauce, octopus with curry, kono-kono (a shellfish) salad and Rodrigues cake.


The most common sport in Rodrigues is association football. There are local competitions almost throughout the year and in specific competitions, the winning team travels to Mauritius for sport exchange. Volleyball is also popular. There is also a public swimming pool at Marechal, a village located in the center of the island, and a stadium at Camp Du Rois in the region of Port Mathurin.


Admiral Nevelskoi in earlier service

In 2010, plans were developed by Bernard Eric Typhis Degtyarenko for a private museum on the island, centred on the restoration of the yacht Admiral Nevelskoi. The hull of the yacht, belonging to the Maritime State University in Vladivostok, Russia, had been found drifting off Rodrigues in 1997 and brought ashore.[28][29]


Since 2014, Rodrigues Island has been proactive in environmental conservation, banning plastic bags to safeguard its marine and terrestrial biodiversity. Building on this success and with positive reception from the community, the island extended its eco-friendly measures by prohibiting single-use polystyrene food containers four years later, garnering global acclaim. These efforts complement various initiatives dedicated to preserving the island's unique ecosystem.[30]

Crucial among these initiatives is the establishment of reserves, notably the Grande Montagne Nature Reserve at the island's center, harboring indigenous fauna and flora. The reserve is vital for monitoring endemic plants such as the 'café maron' and 'bois blan,' as well as unique bird species like the Rodriguan Warbler and Rodriguan Fody.[30]

On the western part of Rodrigues, the Francois Leguat Giant Tortoises Reserve and Cave contribute to the rehabilitation of tortoises, including the riadata and Aldabra species. Since 2006, the reserve has been a stalwart in tortoise conservation, now housing over 5,000 tortoises within its 20 hectares.[30]

'Ile aux Cocos,' another reserve, serves as a protected habitat for seabirds. Through guided tours, visitors gain insights into the destination's preservation efforts. Additionally, a sponsorship campaign for reptiles is available at the reserve.[30]

Even during the challenging times of the COVID-19 crisis, the island exhibited resilience. The local government, along with tourism sector workers, contributed to environmental protection. From cleaning hiking paths to restoring islets, these collective efforts upheld Rodrigues' commitment to conservation.[30]

Tourists played a pivotal role through the Tourism Livelihood Scheme, providing immediate positive impacts. Continuing its ecological journey, Rodrigues Island aims to launch the 'One Tree, One Tourist, and One Child' project in 2023. This visionary initiative entails planting a tree for every traveler, nurtured by local children. Serving as a model for active involvement in environmental protection, this project fosters an enduring ecological mindset among both tourists and locals, ensuring the ongoing conservation of Rodrigues' unique environment for generations to come.[30]


  1. ^ a b Census of 2000
  2. ^ In parliament English is official and French can be used.


  1. ^ a b "Population and Vital Statistics Jan-June 2014" (PDF). Ministry of Finance & Economic Development, Government of Mauritius. 1 July 2014. p. n/a. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 January 2020. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "Geography − location". Government of Mauritius. Retrieved 10 March 2012.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Article 49 of The Constitution". National Assembly of Mauritius. Archived from the original on 23 December 2014. Retrieved 1 November 2011.
  4. ^ a b "General Information about Rodrigues". Government of Mauritius. Retrieved 10 March 2012.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "The Arabs". Encyclopædia Mauritiana. Archived from the original on 1 May 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  6. ^ "Mauritius". Archived from the original on 15 January 2013. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  7. ^ Joslin, Litherland and Simpkin. British Battles and Medals. p. 30. Published Spink, London. 1988.ISBN 0907605257
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  9. ^ Slocum, Joshua (1901). Sailing Alone Around the World. New York: The Century Co. p. 225. Retrieved 3 January 2023.
  10. ^ "Cry Freedom: Rodrigues Island: Case for Self-Determination | Pambazuka News". 4 March 2016. Archived from the original on 3 December 2022. Retrieved 29 September 2023.
  11. ^ "Geography − Overview". Government of Mauritius. Retrieved 10 March 2012.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Meteorological Services − Monthly Bulletin of Climatological Summaries" (PDF). May 2008. Mauritius Meteorological Services. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 October 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
  13. ^ "Overview of the Biodiversity of Rodrigues" (PDF). Government of Mauritius. Retrieved 10 March 2012.[dead link]
  14. ^ "Hydrology of Rodrigues and Agalega" (PDF). Government of Mauritius. Retrieved 10 March 2012.[dead link]
  15. ^ "Convention on Biological Diversity – Third National Report for the Republic of Mauritius, Section 5.2.1, p. 26" (PDF). Ministry of Environment and National Development Unit in collaboration with the UNEP/GEF. October 2006. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 May 2008. Retrieved 19 January 2007.
  16. ^ a b "Climate of Rodrigues & other outer islands". Mauritius Meteorological Services. Archived from the original on 8 February 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  17. ^ Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development. "Fourth National Report on the Convention on Biological Diversity – Republic of Mauritius" (PDF). August 2010. Convention on Biological Diversity. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 May 2012. Retrieved 10 March 2012.
  18. ^ "Welcome to the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF) - In The Field - Rodrigues - Anse Quitor". Archived from the original on 26 October 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  19. ^ "Welcome to the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF) - In The Field - Rodrigues - Plant". Archived from the original on 26 October 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  20. ^ "Rodrigues Island". YUVA. 19 July 2015. Archived from the original on 13 October 2022. Retrieved 13 October 2022.
  21. ^ "Rodrigues Administration". Mauritian Government. Archived from the original on 21 June 2022. Retrieved 13 October 2022.
  22. ^ "List of localities within each zone defined for Rodrigues". Government of Mauritius. Retrieved 10 March 2012. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)[dead link]
  23. ^ "2022 Population Census – Main Results Highlights". Statistics Mauritius. Archived from the original on 19 December 2022. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  24. ^ "Mauritius : Economy - The Commonwealth". Archived from the original on 10 August 2020. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  25. ^ There was also the development of the tourist sector with the construction of the airport and opening of hotels and guest houses
  26. ^ "Gross National Income per Capita (in 1000 US$ 2011 PPP) - Area Database". Global Data Lab. Archived from the original on 7 March 2022. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  27. ^ "Sega tambour of Rodrigues Island". Intangible Heritage Home - UNESCO. Archived from the original on 9 October 2023. Retrieved 29 September 2023.
  28. ^ Heikell, Rod (2019). Indian Ocean Cruising Guide. St Ives, Cambridgeshire: Imray, Laurie, Norie and Wilson. p. 237. ISBN 9781846238895. Archived from the original on 1 March 2023. Retrieved 1 March 2023.
  29. ^ Typhis-Degtyarenko, Bernard Eric. "About". Admiral Nevelskoi Maritime Museum Project. Archived from the original on 1 March 2023. Retrieved 1 March 2023.
  30. ^ a b c d e f "How is Rodrigues becoming more sustainable?". euronews. 2 December 2022. Archived from the original on 5 February 2023. Retrieved 29 September 2023.