Mauritius is an African island nation located in the Indian Ocean, to the east of Madagascar.
The island is 61 km long and 46 km wide (38 x 29 miles), with a total area of 1,865 square kilometres (720 sq. miles) and around 160 km of coastline (100 miles).
Mauritius is close to the island of Rodrigues, administered by the Mauritian government, and the French island of Réunion. The Seychelles islands are 2 and a half hour away by plane.
Mauritius has a population of 1.2 million inhabitants. The capital and largest city is Port Louis, with around 150,000 residents. Other settlements range from large towns with populations between 20,000 and 100,000 people, and over 100 small villages.
Mauritius is home to one international airport. The island also has a good road network, with over 2,000 km of roads in largely good condition (1242 miles), and a widespread bus network.
Discovered by the Portuguese in 1507, Mauritius was subsequently held by the Dutch, French, and British before independence was attained in 1968.
Mauritius has a stable democracy with regular free elections and a positive human rights record.
Once dependent on sugar exports, the island has built up a strong outsourcing and financial services sector and an important tourism industry, and now boasts one of Africa's highest per capita incomes.
The island is surrounded by white sandy beaches, protected from the open ocean by the coral reef. The inland is home to dense forests, waterfalls and mountains that reach 800 m in height (2600 ft).
The island enjoys a great tropical climate with mild temperature all year round. Winter lasts from May to September with a temperature range of 18 ºC to 26 ºC (64 - 79 ºF) and summer from October to April with temperatures ranging from 23 ºC to 30 ºC (73 - 86 ºF).
Mauritians are a mix of people of African, Chinese, Indian, Muslim, and European descent, creating a vibrant, multicultural society.
The language of Mauritius for official communication is English. Besides English, French is very widely-spoken. The day-to-day language of the locals is the Mauritian Creole, a French-based Creole language.