Mauritius is an island in the Indian Ocean, lying 900 km off the eastern coast of Madagascar. The island of Réunion is only 200 km to the south-west. The island of Rodrigues with 109 sq km, located about 650 km east of Mauritius, the two islands of Agalega with 24 km²), located about 1,000 km north of Mauritius and the coral reefs of Cargados Carajos/St. Brandon Rocks with 3.3 km²), located 450 km north-east of Mauritius are a part of the State of Mauritius. The capital is the city of Port Louis, located along the northwest coast of the island of Mauritius.
The island is of volcanic origin and rather flat, but with a central plateau and a chain of mountains to the south-west, which rise for more than 800 meters with three peaks: the Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire with 828 meters, being the highest mountain of the island, the Pieter Both with 820 meters and Le Pouce with 811 m. Mauritius is intensively cultivated with sugar cane, which along with tourism is a major source of income.
The island of Mauritius was discovered by the Portuguese in 1507. It was uninhabited at that time, but full of birds unfit to fly, the Dodo, now extinct. In 1598 the Dutch landed on the island, but they occupied Mauritius only in 1638. They built a fortress and created some plantations. The Dutch remained the owner of Mauritius between 1638 and 1658 and between 1664 and 1710. After the abandonment of the island by the Dutch, the French arrived in 1715. They renamed the island Isle de France. The French ruled Mauritius until 1810, when Mauritius was conquered by the British, who kept the island until independence in 1968.
English text correction by Dietrich Köster.
- Area: 2,040 sq km: Arable Land 57%, Pastures 4%, Forests and Bushland 22%, Uncultivated and Unproductive land 17%
- Population: 1,265,000 (as of 2007): Indians 68%, Creols 27%, Chinese 3%, Franco-Mauritians 2%.
- State Capital: Port Louis.
- Official Language: The official language is English. French and French Creole are widely spoken.
- Religion: Hinduists 52%, Christians 28%: Catholics 26%, Protestants 2%; Muslims 17%, Buddhists 2%.
- Currency: Mauritian Rupee (MUR)
- Time Zone: UTC+4 hours, in southern summer UTC+5 hours.
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