Mauritian rupee is the official unit of exchange in the Republic of Mauritius. Mauritius, although being an African country, use rupee that is popular among Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia and Maldives. As per the ISO 4217 regulation, the currency and the numeric code for Mauritian rupee are defined as MUR and 480 respectively. Like most of the other rupee denominated currencies, Mauritian rupee is depicted with symbols “Rs”. The currency came into existence and has been serving the nation since the year 1934. The subunit of Mauritian rupee is provided by “cent” and is counted among the only three rupee currencies to use “cent” as its sub divisional unit.
Mauritian rupee is among the only three rupee denominated currencies in the world, along with Sri Lankan rupee and Seychellois rupee, that use “cent” as their subunit, “cent” commonly being a subunit of dollar currencies. Bank of Mauritius, which was established in 1966, looks after the flow of currency in the country and performs the role of the central bank of Mauritius. The first currency notes and coins were issued in the year 1876-77 during the reign of United Kingdom. Currently, the currency circulates in the country in total 15 face values, 7 in paper note form and the rest 8 in coin form.
During the 15th and 16th century, when the concept of colonisation developed among the European countries and the countries like Britain, France, Netherlands, Portugal etc conducted voyages to discover new lands, the route to the eastern world had Mauritius as an important way station. Portugal was the first European country to establish a base on the island but in the 1600s, Dutch annexed Mauritius. They brought along with them Dutch coins that used to circulate in the island at that time. French took over Mauritius in the year 1721 and as in the other colonies of France, French Colonial Livre that was abbreviated as XFCL started to be used in both coin and banknote form. Initially, the banknotes in French denomination were issued by “Compagnie Francaise des Indes”, a private French company that controlled the island. The company handed over the control to the French government in 1764 and consequently, the government started issuing its own notes. From 1768, the banknotes started to get issued locally and also other popular foreign currencies such as Spanish silver dollars and Indian gold and silver coins were used prominently with the official unit of account.
In the early 19th century, Britain captured Mauritius and changed the official unit of account to Pound Sterling but Spanish dollars were still popular as a prime medium of exchange. In an attempt to popularise the British currency, many attempts were made including establishment of a currency board in 1849 but all these steps didn’t work. In 1876, Indian rupee was made the official currency of Mauritius due to its popularity and the pound sterling banknotes were withdrawn from the circulation. In 1934, Mauritian rupee finally replaced Indian rupee and formed a separate currency that was directly linked to pound sterling and note the Indian rupee. The responsibility of managing currency in the country was entitled to the Mauritius Currency Board from 1934 till 1967, when Bank of Mauritius came into existence and has been issuing the currency in Mauritius till present.