Mauritius (Mauritian Creole: Moris; French: Maurice, pronounced: [mɔˈʁis]), officially the Republic of Mauritius (Mauritian Creole: Republik Moris; French: République de Maurice) is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) off the south East coast of the African continent. In addition to the island of Mauritius, the Republic includes the islands of Cargados Carajos (St Brandon), Rodrigues and the Agalega Islands. Mauritius is part of the Mascarene Islands, with the French island of Réunion 170 km (110 mi) to the southwest and the island of Rodrigues 570 km (350 mi) to the east. The area of Mauritius is 2040 km2; its capital city is Port Louis.
The United Kingdom took control of the islands in 1810, from France during the Napoleonic Wars, and Mauritius became independent from the UK in 1968. It is a parliamentary republic and is a member of the United Nations, Southern African Development Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the African Union, La Francophonie and the Commonwealth of Nations.
Most Mauritians are multilingual. They use Mauritian Creole and French orally, while English—the language of administration and education—remains primarily a written language. Asian languages also form part of the linguistic mosaic. The country's populace is composed of several ethnicities, including Indian, African, Chinese and French. The first European explorers found no indigenous people living on the island. The island of Mauritius was the only home of the dodo (Raphus cucullatus). This bird was easy prey to settlers because of its weight and inability to fly, and became extinct fewer than eighty years after the initial European colonization.
Being dependent on sugar production since its independence, Mauritius has since developed to a diversified economy with important pillars in financial services, business process outsourcing, tourism and information technology. Mauritius is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank. It has been ranked as the best governed country in all of Africa, six years in a row, finishing on top of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. According to the Democracy Index, Mauritius is the only African country with “full” democracy.
The Mauritian Constitution is based on the Westminster model. The head of government is the President but constitutional power is vested by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. The main source of law remains British common law, with elements of France's Code Napoléon also being used, a legacy of pre-1810 French colonisation.