About Rodrigues Island - HB9FR

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About Rodrigues Island

3B9SP DX Operation 2012
 

Rodrigues (French: île Rodrigues) named after Dom Diogo Rodrigues is a semi-autonomous island part of the Republic of Mauritius located in the Indian Ocean, about 650 kilometres (400 mi) east of Mauritius. It is the is part of the Mascarene Islands which include Mauritius, Cargados Carajos shoals and the French island Réunion, other nearby island countries and territories include Tromelin, Agalega, Comoros, Mayotte and the Seychelles to the far north-west. The area of Rodrigues is 108 km2. It is of volcanic origin surrounded by coral reef, and just off its coast lie some tiny uninhabited islands and islets. The island used to be the tenth district of Mauritius before it gained autonomous status in 2001 and is governed by the Rodrigues Regional Assembly. The capital of the island is Port Mathurin.
 
As of 2011, the island's population was about 37,922. Its inhabitants are Mauritian citizens. English is the official language of the island, though people also speak French, Indian languages and some oriental languages are also spoken, the lingua franca is Rodriguan Creole. Most of the inhabitants are of mixed African and French descent. Its economy is based mainly on fishing, farming, handicraft and a developing tourism sector.


History

From the 10th century, Arabs have been known to visit the Mascarene Islands. A12th century map supposedly contains them, and 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 Diva Harab ("Desert Island"), Diva Maghrebin ("Western Island") and 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 stylize 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.

The island was located again in February 1507. Part of the fleet of Afonso de Albuquerque and Tristão da Cunha, Diogo Fernandes Pereira's Cirne spotted Réunion on February 9 after a cyclone diverted their course. 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 Diego Rodriguez,Diego Roiz, Diego Ruys (or even "Diego Ruy's Island"), Dygarroys or Bygarroys. Some early French sources called it Île Marianne.

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 7 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, turtels, birds, fish and other seafood.

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 stockbreeding and farming.

In 1809, after a brief battle with the French, British troops took possession of Rodrigues. And with British occupation, slavery was abolished.

In 1883, the eruption of the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa was heard at Rodrigues Island and it remains the furthest point at almost 4800 km, at which the explosion was heard. 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. Having been heard from about 5000 km (3000 mi) away on the other side of the Indian Ocean, the noise remains the loudest sound in recorded history

In 1968, Rodrigues was joined with Mauritius when it attained independence; today it is an autonomous region of Mauritius.


Climate

The isolation and location of the island give a micro climate 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 degrees Celsius and mean winter temperature is around 22.3 degrees Celsius. The temperature difference between summer and winter is 3.6 degrees Celsius. 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 dryer than in Mauritius. Cyclones may arise from November to April, and Rodrigues is more often hit than Mauritius


Biodiversity

Rodrigues Island was characterised by endemic plant and animal species in abundance, but from the seventeenth century much of its biodiversity has been eradicated. The island was home to a now extinct species of bird, the Rodrigues Solitaire. An endemic species of bat, the Rodrigues Flying Fox is currently threatened.



 
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