Quick Facts: Mauritius
- Mauritius is situated about 900 kilometres east of Madagascar
- The Republic of Mauritius includes the islands of Cargados Carajos, Rodrigues and the Agalega Islands
- Mauritius became independent from the United Kingdom in 1968
- This Indian Ocean island covers an area of about 2040 km2
- The capital of Mauritius is the city of Port Louis
- Together with Réunion and Rodrigues, Mauritius is part of the Mascarene Islands
- The island of Rodrigues is situated 560 kilometres north-east of Mauritius
The tropical Republic of Mauritius is an Indian Ocean island which is located southeast of the African continent. Mauritius is situated about 900 kilometres east of Madagascar. In addition to the island of Mauritius, this Indian Ocean republic includes the islands of Cargados Carajos, Rodrigues and the Agalega Islands. Mauritius Island is part of the Mascarene Islands, with the French island of Réunion 200 km to the southwest and the island of Rodrigues 570 km to the northeast.
Mauritius was first ruled by the Dutch and then by the French after the former abandoned it. The British took control over Mauritius during the Napoleonic Wars. Mauritius became independent from the United Kingdom in 1968.
The area of this tropical island is 2040 km2 with the city of Port Louis being the capital. Mauritius is a parliamentary republic and is a member of the Southern African Development Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the African Union, La Francophonie and the Commonwealth of Nations.
The main languages spoken in Mauritius are Mauritian Creole, French and English. English is the only official language but the lingua franca is Creole and the newspapers and television programmes are usually in French. Ethnically, the majority of the estimated 1,300,000 people of Mauritius are Indian. There are also European and Chinese minorities who live in Mauritius. Mauritius is the only African nation where the majority religion is Hinduism although Christianity and Islam also have significant populations.
The island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean is renowned for having been the only known home of the dodo bird. First sighted by Europeans around 1600 on Mauritius, this bird became extinct less than eighty years later.
Together with Réunion and Rodrigues, Mauritius is part of the Mascarene Islands. This archipelago was formed in a series of undersea volcanic eruptions 8-10 million years ago, as the African plate drifted over the Réunion hotspot. They are no longer volcanically active, and the hotspot now rests under Réunion. The island of Mauritius itself is formed around a central plateau, with its highest peak in the southwest, Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire at 828 metres. Around the plateau, the original crater can still be distinguished from several mountains.
The capital and largest city of Mauritius is Port Louis which is situated in the northwest of this Indian Ocean island. Other important cities and towns in Mauritius are Rose-Hill and Beau-Bassin, Curepipe, Vacoas, Phoenix, Quatre Bornes.
The climate in Mauritius is tropical with southeast trade winds. From May to November, in the winter time, it is warm and dry. During the summer months, it is hot, wet, and humid from November to May in Mauritius. Anti-cyclones affect the country during May to September.
The island of Mauritius itself is divided into nine districts:
- Black River (Capital: Bambous)
- Flacq (Capital: Centre de Flacq)
- Grand Port (Capital: Mahébourg)
- Moka (Capital: Quartier Militaire)
- Pamplemousses (Capital: Triolet)
- Plaines Wilhems (Capital: Beau Bassin and Rose Hill, Phoenix)
- Port Louis (Capital of Mauritius)
- Rivière du Rempart (Capital: Mapou)
- Savanne (Capital: Souillac)
The island of Rodrigues, which is situated 560 kilometres north-east of Mauritius, attained limited autonomy in October 2002. It had the status of the 10th administrative district of Mauritius before autonomy was attained. Agalega, two small islands about 933 kilometres north of Mauritius, is famous for its chickens. Cargados Carajos, also known as the Saint Brandon islands, is located about 402 kilometres north of Mauritius.