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Mauritius officially the Republic of Mauritius is an island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about 900 kilometres (560 mi) east of Madagascar. In addition to the island of Mauritius, the 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 (120 mi) to the southwest and the island of Rodrigues 570 km (350 mi) to the northeast.

Uninhabited by humans until the 17th century, the island was ruled first by the Dutch and then by the French after the former abandoned it. The British took control during the Napoleonic Wars and Mauritius became independent from the UK in 1968. Mauritius's area is 2040 km2 with Port Louis for capital. It 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. Mauritius has an upper middle income economy.

The main languages spoken in Mauritius are Mauritian Creole, French and English. English is the only official language but the lingua franca is Mauritian Creole and the newspapers and television programmes are usually in French. Ethnically, the majority of the estimated 1,300,000 people are of Indian descent but there are also many people of African descent on the island. There are also European and Chinese minorities. It is the only African nation where the majority religion is Hinduism although Christianity and Islam also have significant populations.

The island of Mauritius is renowned for having been the only known home of the dodo. First sighted by Europeans around 1600 on Mauritius, this bird was an easy prey to settlers due to its weight and inability to fly. It became extinct less than eighty years later.

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Additional Photos by maria varipati (maria-v1981) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1192 W: 30 N: 1940] (10966)
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