Estimate population 1,278,000 - Capital Port Louis
The beautiful island country of Mauritius comprises Mauritius and Rodrigues islands and two small groups of islands. It is volcanic in origin and mostly surrounded by coral reefs. It is located in the Indian Ocean 800 kilometres (500 miles) east of Madagascar and covers a total area of 2,040 square kilometres (788 square miles). The Grand River is the island's major river. English is the official language but French is also considered an official language as most Mauritians speak French, Creole is also widely spoken.
The Portuguese arrived in about 1505. Mauritius was occupied, successively, by the Dutch in 1598, the French in 1710, and the British in 1810. In 1968, it became an independent state within the Commonwealth of Nations. In 1992 it became a republic within the Commonwealth. Veerasamy Ringadoo became the country's first president.