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Mauritius, officially the Republic of Mauritius (French: République de Maurice) is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) off the southeast coast of the African continent. The country includes the islands of Mauritius, Rodrigues, 560 kilometres (350 mi) east of the principal island, the islands of Agaléga and Saint Brandon. The islands of Mauritius, Rodrigues and the French department of Réunion 170 km (110 mi) form part of the Mascarene Islands. The area of the country is 2040 km2, its capital is Port Louis.
The first Portuguese explorers found no indigenous people living on the island in 1507. The Dutch settled on the island in 1598 and abandoned it in 1710. Five years later, the island became a French colony and was renamed the Isle de France. The French developed extensive sugar plantations on the island, and the Mauritian Creole language came into existence during their rule. The British took control of Mauritius in 1810 during the Napoleonic Wars. The country remained under British rule until it became an independent Commonwealth realm on 12 March 1968 and a republic within the Commonwealth on 12 March 1992.
The country's populace is composed of several ethnicities, mostly people of Indian, African, French, and Chinese descent. Most Mauritians are multilingual; English, French, Creole and Chinese languages are used.
The Mauritian Constitution is based on the Westminster model. The head of state is the President but constitutional power is vested in the Prime Minister who is the head of government. Mauritius is highly ranked for democracy, economic and political freedom.
The island of Mauritius was the only home of the Dodo bird. The bird became extinct fewer than eighty years after its discovery.