Mauritius country profile
- 4 January 2017
- From the section Africa
Mauritius, an Indian Ocean archipelago, is seen as a model of stability and economic prosperity in the region.
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.
Mauritius claims sovereignty over the Chagos islands, arguing that the archipelago was illegally detached from Mauritius before its independence.
The Chagos islands lie around 1,000 km to the north-east and are home to the US military base on Diego Garcia. Several hundred islanders were expelled to make way for the base.
The Republic of Mauritius
Capital: Port Louis
Population 1.3 million
Area 2,040 sq km (788 sq miles)
Major languages English (official), Creole, French, Indian languages
Major religions Hinduism, Christianity, Islam
Life expectancy 70 years (men), 77 years (women)
Currency Mauritian rupee
President: Ameenah Gurib
Ameenah Gurib was sworn in as president of Mauritius in June 2015, becoming the first woman to hold the ceremonial position.
She replaced Kailash Purryag, who was chosen by the previous Labour Party government in 2012 and resigned in May 2015 following the election victory of the alliance led by Sir Anerood Jugnauth in December 2014.
An internationally-renowned scientist and biologist, Mrs Gurib is an expert in biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
Prime minister: Sir Anerood Jugnauth
Sir Anerood Jugnauth has held the post of prime minister for longer than anyone since Mauritius gained independence from Britain in 1968.
Reappointed in December 2014, he previously served as prime minister between 1982 and 1995 and again between 2000 and 2003.
He has been credited by his supporters as the pioneer of Mauritius' economic miracle in the 1980s, when the island liberalised its economy and began the process of reducing its dependency on its sugar industry.
In late 2016, he announced he would step down before his term expires in 2019, with his son Pravind - leader of the governing Militant Socialist Movement and finance minister - seen as the favourite to succeed him.
State-owned Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) radio and TV generally reflect government thinking. MBC is funded by advertising and a TV licence fee.
Television is the most popular medium.
Some key dates in the history of Mauritius:
10th century - Island is known to the Arabs but they choose not to settle.
1507-1513 - Portuguese sailors come across the island.
1638 -1710 - The Dutch claim the island, naming it after Prince Maurice van Nassau.
1710-1810 - The French take possession, establishing a sugar industry based on slave labour.
1810-1968 - The British conquer the island. Abolition of slavery sees thousands of indentured labourers recruited, mainly from India.
1966 - Britain expels hundreds of residents of the Chagos archipelago to make way for a US military base on Diego Garcia. Many are sent to Mauritius.
1968 - Independence declared.
1992 - Mauritius becomes a republic.
2014 - Parliament dissolved to allow a constitutional amendment and provide for the direct election of the president