FAMILY LIFE
The Mauritian population can be divided into four main groups: people of Indian or Pakistani descent, Creoles, Chinese and Europeans. The first group is the largest, making up more than half the population, and includes the descendants of people who came as indentured labourers to work on sugar plantations as well as those who immigrated to Mauritius to set up businesses. These people do not form a single cultural group, but include Hindus and Muslims.

Creoles are descended from the people who were brought from Madagascar to work as slaves. The Chinese are the descendants of people who came to Mauritius in the 19th and early 20th centuries to work as artisans and traders. There is also a small group of people descended from the French who colonized the island in the 17th century. These different cultural groups live together peacefully, but there is little intermarriage between groups. Each group maintains its own cultural, religious and family traditions.

Mauritius's varied cultural traditions are expressed in ceremonies such as weddings. A reception called a gamat is held the night before a Hindu wedding in an open-air marquee made of tarpaulin and decorated with palm fronds. The wedding on the following day is held in a temple or hall. The bride and groom walk three times around a sacred fire. Muslim receptions are held on the same day as the wedding, just before the ceremony. Men go with the groom to the mosque to pray, then come to the wedding hall where the bride and her guests are waiting. Creole weddings take place in a church and are followed by a reception, with food, drink and dancing that often lasts all night. At a Chinese wedding, firecrackers are set off to celebrate the occasion. Some Chinese families also hold a special tea ceremony for the newlyweds.
   Did you know?
Mauritius is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with about 600 people per square kilometre.
Special ceremonies are also held when children are born. Hindus hold a name-giving ceremony when the child is nine days old, and shave the child's head when it is two months old. Creoles baptize the child in a church and then host a large family feast. The Chinese have a special ceremony when the child is one month old, attended by family members.

In many Mauritian families, three generations live together. Older people do not go to retirement homes unless they have no family to care for them. Children often live with their parents after they marry, until they have enough money to buy a house of their own.

Traditional Mauritian houses were made of wood, with spacious verandahs and windows that could be shuttered against high winds. However, because of cyclone damage to many of these houses, building standards changed. Today, buildings are usually made of concrete and have flat roofs.