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Though Mauritius is situated alongside Africa, its culture tapestry is more representative of its British and French ties and predominantly Indian workforce. There is incredible diversity in Port Louis. Most people in Mauritius are bilingual and are equally fluent in English and French. For locals, Creole and French are the main languages while several Asian dialects can be heard on the streets as well.
Thus, walking the streets of Port Louis, one can see this diversity up front. The quaint Chinatown, decorated with an ornate Chinese gate, offers authentic Chinese food, markets and goods. There is also a muslim community, called Plaine Verte, where there is a mosque and many muslim cultural foods and items. Port Louis also has churches, pagodas, creole architecture- an abundance of cultural icons. This ethnic diversity is reflective of the complex colonial history, slavery, and economic forces.
While the city itself has much modern architecture, as a view from the plane shows high-rises and concrete buildings, there are still many old, restored homes (some with signs of wear and tear like chipped paint, but that still retain historic allure). In Pope Hennessy Street (as well as in St-Louis and St-Georges Streets), there are colonial structures as well as a Chinese-decorated house.
Recently the different populations have not been able to exist harmoniously. In 1999 the Créole population of Port Louis, who are descents from former slaves and the Indo-Mauritian majority came into conflict. Riots broke out when a popular reggae singer Joseph 'Kaya' Topize was arrested for participating in rally to legalize marijuana and then killed while in police custody, there were riots all over Port Louis.
Another battle is the economy. In 2003, unemployment shot up to around ten percent because the island was unable to compete with the South Asian markets.