Mauritius (/məˈrɪʃəs/; French: Maurice), 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 island of Mauritius, Rodrigues (560 kilometres (350 mi) east), the islands of Agalega and the archipelago of Saint Brandon. The islands of Mauritius, Rodrigues, and Réunion 170 km (110 mi) south west, form part of the Mascarene Islands. The area of the country is 2040 km2. The capital and largest city is Port Louis.
Mauritius claims sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago from the United Kingdom and Tromelin island from France. The United Kingdom excised the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritian territory prior to Mauritian independence in 1965. The UK gradually depopulated the archipelago's indigenous population and leased its biggest island, Diego Garcia, to the United States. The US soon thereafter established a military base on Diego Garcia.
The island of Mauritius was visited during the medieval period by the Arabs and then by the Portuguese, who named it Dina Arobi and Cirne, respectively. The island was uninhabited until the Dutch Republic established a colony in 1638, with the Dutch naming the island after Prince Maurice van Nassau. The Dutch colony was abandoned in 1710, and, five years later, the island became a French colony and was renamed Isle de France. 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 in 1968, following the adoption of a new constitution. The country became a republic in 1992 and remains in the Commonwealth.
The people of Mauritius are multiethnic and multicultural. Most Mauritians are multilingual, Mauritian Creole, English, French, and Asian languages are used. The island's government is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system, and Mauritius is highly ranked for democracy and for economic and political freedom. Along with the other Mascarene Islands, Mauritius is known for its varied flora and fauna, with many species endemic to the island. The island is particularly known as the only home of the Dodo, which, along with several avian species, was made extinct by human activities relatively shortly after the island's settlement.