Mauritius is an island in the Indian Ocean, and, together with various small islands, including Cargados Carajos, Rodrigues and Agalega, currently an independent Republic. It has been known to Arabs since the Middle Ages, and Europeans since a Portuguese landing in 1507. In 1598, the Dutch claimed it (and named it), but never settled it successfully. In 1715, the French took control of the island, which they re-named Île de France, and ruled it until surrendering to the British in 1810 - despite winning the Battle of Grand Port (the main port on the island), which was the worst defeat suffered by the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars]]. The British restored the name of Mauritius. It became independent, and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, in 1968.
Don't confuse the adjective Mauritian, used for Mauritius, with Mauritanian.
- Etymological note: Mauritius is formed from the Latin form (Mauritius) of the Dutch forename Maurits, equivalent of the English Maurice. In this case, it was the name of the Count of Nassau (1567-1625), Prince of Orange (1618-1625) and Stadtholder of the United Provinces (1585-1625), during whose government of the Netherlands the island was named by Dutch explorers (1598).