The Republic of Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometers off the southeast coast of the African continent. The country includes the island of Mauritius, Rodrigues and the outer islands. Mauritius was a British colonial possession from 1810 to 1968, the year of its independence. Due to its strategic position, Mauritius was known as the "star and key" of the Indian Ocean.
Mauritius is highly ranked for democracy and for economic and political freedom. Along with the other Mascarene Islands such as Reunion, Mauritius is known for its varied flora and fauna, with many species endemic to the island. The island is widely known as the only home of the dodo, a large walking bird which was made extinct by human activities relatively shortly after the island's settlement.