Discovered by the Portuguese in 1505, Mauritius was subsequently held by the Dutch, French, and British before independence was attained in 1968. Mauritius is an independent island republic in the western Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The country includes the island of Mauritius, the island of Rodrigues to the east; the Agalega Islands to the north; and the Cargados Carajos Shoals to the northeast. The country has a total area of 2,040 sq km, with 330 kms of coastline almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs. The land gently rises to a central plateau which is about 600 meters above sea level.
The island of Mauritius is of volcanic origin. From a low-lying plain in the north, the terrain rises to a plateau that covers the central part of the island. The south is mostly mountainous, rising to a maximum elevation in Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire (828 m). Several lakes are located in the plateau region, and numerous streams rise in the highlands and radiate to the coast. The island is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs, but Port Louis, the capital, has a fine harbor, accessible to ships. It is situated in the South West Indian Ocean (20 degrees south, 57.5 degrees east) to the east of Madagascar. The highest mountains are Piton de la Rivière Noire (828 meters), Pieter Both (823 meters) and Le Pouce (812 meters).
In the central part of the island, at about 600 meters above sea level, the average maximum day time temperature varies from about 20 degrees centigrade in August to about 26 degrees in February. Along coastal regions, the temperatures are 3 to 5 degrees higher. The western and northern regions are warmer and drier than the East and the South.
Forested land area is 7.9% of the total land area. The total cultivatable land area is 49.02%.Among the main natural resources are arable land and fish. The density of population is 639.03 people per sq km.
Last Updated on: 19-04-2010