President: Ameenah Gurib-Fakim (2015)
Prime Minister: Anerood Jugnauth (2014)
Land area: 714 sq mi (1,849 sq km); total area: 788 sq mi (2,040 sq km)
Population (2014 est.): 1,331,155 (growth rate: 0.66%); birth rate: 13.46/1000; infant mortality rate: 10.59/1000; life expectancy: 75.17
Capital and largest city (2011 est.): Port Louis, 151,000
Monetary unit: Mauritian rupee
Mauritius is a mountainous island in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar.
Parliamentary democracy within the British Commonwealth.
After a brief Dutch settlement, French immigrants who came in 1715 named the island Île de France and established the first road and harbor infrastructure, as well as the sugar industry, under the leadership of Gov. Mahe de Labourdonnais. Blacks from Africa and Madagascar came as slaves to work in the sugarcane fields. In 1810, the British captured the island and in 1814, by the Treaty of Paris, it was ceded to Great Britain along with its dependencies.
Indian immigration, which followed the abolition of slavery in 1835, rapidly changed the fabric of Mauritian society, and the country flourished with the increased cultivation of sugarcane. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 heralded the decline of Mauritius as a port of call for ships rounding the southern tip of Africa, bound for South and East Asia. The economic instability of the price of sugar, the main crop, in the first half of the 20th century brought civil unrest, then economic, administrative, and political reforms. Mauritius became independent on March 12, 1968.