Mauritius (French: Maurice), officially the Republic of Mauritius (French: République de Maurice), is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometres off the southeast coast of the African continent. The country includes the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues, 560 kilometres east of Mauritius, and the outer islands of Agaléga and St. Brandon. The islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues form part of the Mascarene Islands, along with nearby Reunion island. The area of the country is 2,040 km2 (790 sq mi). The capital and largest city is Port Louis.
The island is widely known as the only known home of the dodo, which along with several other avian species, was made extinct by human activities relatively shortly after the island's settlement. Formerly a French colony (1715–1810), Mauritius became a British colonial possession in 1810 and remained so until 1968, the year in which it attained independence. The British Crown colony of Mauritius once included the current territories of Mauritius, Rodrigues, the outer islands of Agaléga, St. Brandon, Chagos Archipelago, and Seychelles. The Mauritian territories gradually devolved with the creation of a separate colony of Seychelles in 1903 and the excision of the Chagos Archipelago in 1965. Mauritius also claims sovereignty over Tromelin Island from France.
The people of Mauritius are multiethnic, multicultural and multilingual. The island's government is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system, and Mauritius is highly ranked for democracy and for economic and political freedom. The Human Development Index of Mauritius is the highest in Africa. Along with the other Mascarene Islands, Mauritius is known for its varied flora and fauna, with many species endemic to the island. Mauritius is the only country in Africa and outside of South Asia where Hinduism is the majority religion. The administration uses English as its main language. Tourism is one of the main industries of the island nation.
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