Mauritius, or Republic of Mauritius, an island country in the Indian Ocean 590 miles (950 km) east of Madagascar. With its dependencies of Rodrigues and other, smaller islands, Mauritius occupies 790 square miles (2,045 km 2 ). The island of Mauritius (720 square miles [1,865 km 2]) has hilly, fertile land crossed by numerous short rivers. The climate is tropical and rainy.
The mainstays of the Mauritian economy are textile manufacturing, sugar production, tourism, and offshore banking. Port Louis, the capital, is the leading port. Mauritius' basic currency unit is the Mauritian rupee. Most of the people are Asian Indian but there are also Chinese and Europeans. Mauritius has an elected president and an elected legislature, the National Assembly.
The Dutch, who named Mauritius for Prince Maurice of Nassau, began a colony here in 1638. France claimed the island in 1715, calling it Íle de France, but ceded it to Britain in 1814. In 1968, Mauritius became an independent nation within the British Commonwealth.