Lying some 6,000km west of Perth and just above the Tropic of Capricorn, Mauritius is about 65km long and 48km wide.

The island has a central plateau with impressive mountains and is skirted by white sandy beaches. Offshore are coral reefs and crystal clear turquoise waters.

A Garden of Eden with a population of just over 1 million, Mauritius is unique for its diversity: Indians, Creoles, Muslims, French, Chinese and intoxicating mixtures - working together whilst still preserving their traditional cultures.

First known to Arab traders, the island was claimed by the Portuguese in 1510 and occupied by the Dutch between 1598 and 1710. It was colonized by the French in 1715 and the British in 1890, remaining a British colony until it became an independent, but sovereign, state within the Commonwealth in 1968 and (finally) a Republic in 1992.

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