Mauritius, an archipelago off the coast of Africa, is located between the islands of Madagascar and Reunion. Mauritius’ official name is the Republic of Mauritius, and the capital city is called Port Louis. Mauritius did not have any permanent inhabitants until the second millennium AD, although some Phoenecian, Malay, and Arab explorers landed on the island a few centuries prior. During the European Age of Exploration, Portuguese and Dutch sailors occasionally resupplied at and landed on the island of Mauritius, although the island did not receive its current name until the year 1598. The first permanent settlement on Mauritius was established by the Dutch in the seventeenth century, although it eventually fell under the control of the French and the British. Mauritius gained its independence in the year 1968, and has become a fairly stable democracy over the last few decades. Although Mauritius’ largest city is Port Louis, the island nation is also home to the communities of Quatre Bornes, Vacoas, Phoenix, Beau-Bassin, Rose-Hill, and Curepipe. Mauritius has a generally tropical climate, and enjoys warm weather and consistent sunshine throughout the entire year. This outstanding weather has made the nation a hotspot for international tourism, especially in the most recent decade.
Mauritius has a diverse and scenic selection of tropical flora and fauna, both in the inland mountain highlands and along the tropical coast. The Rodrigues and Mauritius flying foxes are two species of bats which are found only on Mauritius, and there are also eight unique types of birds on the island nation. There are also hundreds of endemic plant species, such as the national flower of Mauritius, which is called the boucle d’oreille. Mauritius is perhaps best known in the ecological community for being home to an extinct species of bird called the dodo, which was endemic to the islands until they were hunted to extinction by European colonists. Mauritius is comprised of nine geographical districts, Port Louis, Savanne, Riviere du Rempart, Flacq, Black River, Grand Port, Moka, Pamplemousses, and Plaines Wilhems. There are also a few smaller offshore islands that fall under the jurisdiction of Mauritius, one of which, Rodrigues, was granted autonomy about ten years ago.
Mauritius’ economy has evolved rapidly since it gained independence from Britain, transitioning from a reliance on agriculture, to a diverse, multi-sector economy with significant emphases on tourism, industry, and finance. Mauritius has a relatively high per capita GDP for the continent of Africa, with most residents employed on plantations, in the service industry, and a number of other emerging industries such as information technology and textiles. Mauritius provides an impressive public education for its citizens, and boasts a primary school enrollment rate of nearly ninety five percent. Mauritius has a diverse population of more than one million two hundred thousand residents, representing an impressive cultural fusion of Indian, Chinese, European, and African backgrounds. Mauritius annually draws a number of tourists because of popular activities including surfing, swimming, deep sea fishing, boating, horseback riding, golfing, tennis, hunting, and even water skiing. Some notable recreational destinations on Mauritius include the Hindu temple at Triolet Shivala, the Labourdonnais Orchards, the Balaclava Ruins, and the beautiful Pereybere beach. There are also a wide variety of golf courses, shopping centers, and restaurants throughout the island.