Mauritius is an island nation found off the south-east coast of Africa. Located in the Indian Ocean, it is about 560 miles (900 kilometers) south-west of Madagascar.
- Part of an Archipelago known as the Mascarene Islands, Mauritius was formed around 8-10 million years ago, via a series of volcanic eruptions.
- A Republic since 1992, Mauritius was previously part of the British Empire until it gained independence in 1968.
- The Dutch established the first permanent settlement on Mauritius in 1638. However, because of tough conditions they eventually abandoned the island nearly a century later in 1710.
- France, which already controlled the neighboring Reunion Island, took control of Mauritius in 1715 and later renamed it Île de France (Isle of France). Under French rule, the island developed a prosperous economy based on sugar production.
- During the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) the British set out to gain control of Mauritius. Despite Napoleon's victory at the Battle of Grand Port, his only naval victory over the British, the French eventually surrendered to an invasion three months later.
- Formally surrendering on 3rd December 1810, the British changed the Island's name back to Mauritius. They allowed settlers to keep their land and property, and to use French Language and the Law of France in criminal and Civil Matters.
- Modern Mauritius has a population of around 1,300,000, and its inhabitants speak Mauritian Creole, English and French. English is classed as the official language, yet newspapers and television programs are usually found in French.
- The country is composed of several ethnicities including Asian, African, and Chinese. Though the first European explorers found no indigenous people living on the island, Mauritius is renowned for having been the only known home of the now extinct bird, the Dodo.
- Modern Mauritious is a democracy whose government is elected every five years, the most recent of which took place on May 5th, 2010. The Island has both a President (Anerood Jugnauth) and Prime Minsiter (Navin Ramgoolam), with absolute power split between the two.