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Page last updated at 15:53 GMT, Monday, 7 July 2008 16:53 UK

UN lists Mauritius slave mountain

Le Morne, Mauritius
Le Morne is isolated and virtually inaccessible

The UN has added the Mauritian mountain of Le Morne, which long served as a shelter for fugitive slaves, to its world heritage list.

Fleeing slaves used settlements in the mountain's caves and on its summit in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

At the time, Mauritius was an important stopover in the eastern slave trade.

The world heritage list compiled by the UN's cultural agency, Unesco, includes hundreds of sites considered to have outstanding universal value.

Unesco aims to help protect the sites on the list with the help of UN member states.

'Legends'

Le Morne is a rugged mountain that juts out towards the Indian Ocean in the south-west of Mauritius.

Slaves hiding there were protected by the mountain's isolated, wooded and almost inaccessible cliffs.

MAP

The mountain became a symbol of the slaves' fight for freedom.

The slaves came from the African mainland, Madagascar, India and south-east Asia, and worked on colonial plantations in Mauritius.

Le Morne gave birth to many legends, including one that says Malagasy slaves came there to look in the direction of Madagascar before killing themselves, says the BBC's Yasine Mohabuth in Mauritius.

The mountain is seen as a place of suffering and a symbol of the country's sacrifices, he says.


SEE ALSO
Country profile: Mauritius
18 Jun 08 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Mauritius
18 Jun 08 |  Country profiles

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