Republic of Mauritius
1860 sq km
Indo-Mauritian (68%), Créole (27%), Sino-Mauritian (3%), Franco-Mauritian (2%)
English, Créole, French, Hindi, Urdu, Hakka, Bojpoori
Sir Anerood Jugnauth
Unlike neighboring Réunion, Mauritius has no active volcano, although remnants of volcanic activity - such as Trou Aux Cerfs Crater in Curepipe and millions of lava boulders - pepper the island. Mauritius is surrounded by a coral reef and lined by a few long stretches of white sand beach.
The abundant marine life found in Mauritian waters includes corals, molluscs,
turtles, dolphins, four types of whale and innumerable fish.
Of the island's 900 plant species, almost a third is endemic to Mauritius. Some of the most common examples are giant Indian banyans, beach-hugging casuarinas and brilliant red-flowering flamboyants.
Many hotels provide windsurfing and kayaking equipment for their guests,
and for those who prefer less strenuous communing, there's usually a glass-bottom
boat to be found.
For Jules Verne fans, lead-booted, bubble-headed 'undersea walks' can be arranged near Grand Baie reef, as can a ride on La Nessee, a semi-submersible boat - sort of like a submarine - that allows a close-up tour of the reefs without the nuisance of getting wet.
On Mauritius, the best dive sites are around Flic en Flac on the west coast. Snorkeling is a better proposition, with over-the-side boat trips running from most major hotels and from Grand Baie beach.
Serious anglers will love the superb deep-sea fishing in the waters off Mauritius, where there are healthy populations of blue and black marlin, bonita and yellowfin tuna, several species of shark and spectacular sailfish to hook into.