Mauritius (/məˈrɪʃ(i)əs, mɔː-/ (listen) mər-ISH-(ee-)əs, mor-; French: Maurice [mɔʁis, moʁis] (listen); Mauritian Creole: Moris [moʁis]), officially the Republic of Mauritius, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) off the southeast coast of the African continent, east of Madagascar. It includes the main island (also called Mauritius), as well as Rodrigues, Agaléga and St. Brandon.[10][11] The islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues, along with nearby Réunion (a French overseas department), are part of the Mascarene Islands. The main island of Mauritius, where most of the population is concentrated, hosts the capital and largest city, Port Louis. The country spans 2,040 square kilometres (790 sq mi) and has an exclusive economic zone covering 2,300,000 square kilometres (890,000 sq mi).[12]

Republic of Mauritius
Motto: "Stella Clavisque Maris Indici" (Latin)[1]
"Star and Key of the Indian Ocean"
Anthem: Motherland
Islands of the Republic of Mauritius (excluding Chagos Archipelago and Tromelin Island)
Islands of the Republic of Mauritius labelled in black; Chagos Archipelago and Tromelin are claimed by Mauritius.
and largest city
Port Louis
20.2°S 57.5°E / -20.2; 57.5
Official languagesNone (de jure)
English (de facto)
French (de facto)[Note 1]
Lingua francaMauritian Creole
Languages spoken at home
Ethnic groups
(2011 census)[4]
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary republic
Prithvirajsing Roopun
Eddy Boissézon
Pravind Jugnauth
Sooroojdev Phokeer
LegislatureNational Assembly
12 March 1968
12 March 1992
2,040 km2 (790 sq mi) (169th)
 Water (%)
 2019 estimate
1,265,475[5] (158th)
 2011 census
618.24/km2 (1,601.2/sq mi) (21st)
GDP (PPP)2022 estimate
$31.720 billion[7] (144th)
 Per capita
$25,043[7] (66th)
GDP (nominal)2022 estimate
$11.263 billion[7] (150th)
 Per capita
$8,892[7] (101st)
Gini (2017)36.8[8]
HDI (2021) 0.802[9]
very high · 63rd
CurrencyMauritian rupee (MUR)
Time zoneUTC+4 (MUT)
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy (AD)
Driving sideleft
Calling code+230
ISO 3166 codeMU

Arab sailors were the first to discover the uninhabited island, around 975, and they called it Dina Arobi.[13][14] The earliest confirmed discovery was in 1507 by Portuguese sailors, who otherwise took little interest in the islands. The Dutch took possession in 1598, establishing a succession of short-lived settlements over a period of about 120 years, before abandoning their efforts in 1710. France took control in 1715, renaming it Isle de France. In 1810, the United Kingdom seized the island, and four years later, in the Treaty of Paris (1814), France ceded Mauritius and its dependencies to the United Kingdom. The British colony of Mauritius included Rodrigues, Agaléga, St. Brandon, Tromelin, the Chagos Archipelago, and, until 1906, the Seychelles.[10][15] Mauritius and France dispute sovereignty over Tromelin as the Treaty of Paris failed to mention it specifically.[16] Mauritius remained a primarily plantation-based colony of the United Kingdom until independence in 1968.

In 1965, three years before Mauritius became independent, the UK split off the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritian territory, and also split off the islands of Aldabra, Farquhar, and Desroches from the Seychelles, to form the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).[17] The local population was forcibly expelled and the largest island, Diego Garcia, was leased to the United States. The UK has restricted access to the Chagos Archipelago, barring entry to casual tourists, the media, and former inhabitants.[18] The sovereignty of the Chagos is disputed between Mauritius and the UK. In February 2019, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion ordering the UK to return the Chagos Islands to Mauritius as rapidly as possible to complete the decolonisation of Mauritius.

Owing to its geographic location and centuries of colonialism, the people of Mauritius are highly diverse in ethnicity, culture, language and faith. It is the only country in Africa where Hinduism is the most practised religion.[19][20] Indo-Mauritians make up the bulk of the population with significant Creole, Sino-Mauritian and Franco-Mauritian minorities. The island's government is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system and Mauritius is highly ranked for economic and political freedom along with being the only African country with full democracy.[21] Mauritius is also the continent's only country with "very high" Human Development Index. According to the World Bank, the country is classified as a high-income economy.[22] Mauritius is also ranked as the most competitive, and one of the most developed economies in the African region.[23] The country is a welfare state. The government provides free universal healthcare, free education up through the tertiary level and free public transportation for students, senior citizens, and the disabled.[24] In 2019, Mauritius was ranked the most peaceful African country by the Global Peace Index.[25]

Along with the other Mascarene Islands, Mauritius is known for its varied flora and fauna. Many species are endemic to the island. The island was the only known home of the dodo, which, along with several other avian species, was made extinct by human activities relatively soon after the island's settlement. There are other endemic animals like for example: the Mauritian parakeet, the kestrel, and the pink pigeon.[citation needed]

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