Introduction

Mauritius is an independent country in the Indian Ocean directly to the east of Madagascar. It is a paradise for people looking for a beach holiday, but it is also a fascinating place to visit to encounter other peoples and cultures.

The beaches are well protected by a coral reef, which runs around most of the island and is generally a few hundred metres out to sea. Within this reef the sea is warmer, there are no sharks and the waves, if any, are small.

The island is about 40 miles by 30 miles and has a land area of about 750 square miles. The population is quite large for such a small island at 1.2 million people. This makes it about the third most densely populated country in the world, but the Mauritians are heavily concentrated in the dormitory towns centred around Curepipe, Phoenix, Vacoas, Quatre Bornes and Rose Hill.

In contrast there are many very sparsely populated areas where agriculture or mountains predominate. 

The population is very mixed with about half being Hindu, about 25% being Catholic and around 20% Moslem. There is also a Chinese population of only 1-2% but they are high profile as they own and run so many of the shops. (How the unusual mix of people came to be here is described  in the History section.)

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