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Although known to Arab and Malay sailors as early as the 10th century, Mauritius was first explored by the Portuguese in the 16th century and subsequently settled by the Dutch - who named it in honor of Prince Maurits van NASSAU - in the 17th century. The French assumed control in 1715, developing the island into an important naval base overseeing Indian Ocean trade, and establishing a plantation economy of sugar cane. The British captured the island in 1810, during the Napoleonic Wars. Mauritius remained a strategically important British naval base, and later an air station, playing an important role during World War II for anti-submarine and convoy operations, as well as the collection of signal intelligence. Independence from the UK was attained in 1968. A stable democracy with regular free elections and a positive human rights record, the country has attracted considerable foreign investment and has earned one of Africa's highest per capita incomes.


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Geography

Location
Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar

Geographic coordinates
20 17 S, 57 33 E

Map references
Africa

Area World Ranking: 181
Total 2,040 sq km
Land 2,030 sq km
Water 10 sq km
Note
Includes Agalega Islands, Cargados Carajos Shoals (Saint Brandon), and Rodrigues

Area - comparative
Almost 11 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries
0 km

Coastline
177 km

Maritime claims
Measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
Territorial sea 12 nm
Exclusive economic zone 200 nm
Continental shelf
200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin

Climate
Tropical, modified by southeast trade winds; warm, dry winter (May to November); hot, wet, humid summer (November to May)

Terrain
Small coastal plain rising to discontinuous mountains encircling central plateau

Elevation extremes
Lowest point Indian Ocean 0 m
Highest point Mont Piton 828 m

Natural resources
Arable land, fish

Land use
Arable land 49.02%
Permanent crops 2.94%
Other 48.04% (2005)

Irrigated land
210 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources
2.2 cu km (2001)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Total 0.61 cu km/yr (25%/14%/60%)
Per capita 488 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards
Cyclones (November to April); almost completely surrounded by reefs that may pose maritime hazards

Environment - current issues
Water pollution, degradation of coral reefs

Environment - international agreements
Party to
Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
Signed, but not ratified
None of the selected agreements

Geography - note
The main island, from which the country derives its name, is of volcanic origin and is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs; former home of the dodo, a large flightless bird related to pigeons, driven to extinction by the end of the 17th century through a combination of hunting and the introduction of predatory species


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  Mauritius (Port Louis):


  GPS points from Mauritius (Port Louis)

L'avenir Moka District

Recif Sandringham Riviere Du Rempart District

Mare Chicose Grand Port District

River Cere Flacq District

Lion Mountain Grand Port District

Trianon Plaines Wilhems District

Snail Mauritius (general)

Ebene Plaines Wilhems District




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