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Mauritius, officially the Republic of Mauritius, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometres off the southeast coast of the African continent. The country includes the island of Mauritius, Rodrigues, the islands of Agalega and the archipelago of Saint Brandon. The islands of Mauritius, Rodrigues, and Réunion 170 km south west, form part of the Mascarene Islands. The capital and largest city is Port Louis.
The Republic of Mauritius also incorporates the island of Rodrigues, situated some 560 km to the east and is 104 km2 in area, the Agalega islands situated some 1,000 km to the north of Mauritius and Saint Brandon situated some 430 km to the north-east of Mauritius, both with total land area of 71.2 km2. Mauritius claim sovereignty over Tromelin islands, small islands that lie 430 km to the north-east of Mauritius. The nation's exclusive economic zone cover about 2.3 million km2 of the Indian Ocean, including approx. 400,000 km2 jointly managed with the Seychelles.
Situated near the tropic of Capricorn, Mauritius has a tropical climate. There are 2 seasons: a warm humid summer from November to April, with a mean temperature of 24.7° and a relatively cool dry winter from June to September with a mean temperature of 20.4°. The temperature difference between the seasons is only 4.3°. The warmest months are January and February with average day maximum temperature reaching 29.2° and the coolest months are July and August when average night minimum temperatures drops down to 16.4°.
Being both an English-speaking and French-speaking nation, Mauritius is a member of both the Commonwealth of Nations and the Francophonie. The Mauritian constitution makes no mention of an official language. It is only in the Parliament that the official language is English; any member of the National Assembly can also address the chair in French. However, English is generally accepted as the official language of Mauritius and as the language of government administration, the courts and business.
The government of Mauritius provides free education to its citizens from pre-primary to tertiary level. Since July 2005, the government introduced free transport for all students. For the year 2013, government expenditure on education was estimated at about Rs 13,5 million, representing 13% of total expenditure. The education system in Mauritius consists of pre-primary, primary, secondary and tertiary sectors.
The estimated resident population of the Republic of Mauritius was 1,259,838 as at 31 December 2013. The female population was 636,366 compared to a male population of 623,472. The population on the island of Mauritius is 1,218,060, and that of Rodrigues island is 41,504. Agalega and Saint Brandon had an estimated population of 274. Mauritius is a religiously diverse nation. It is a secular state and freedom of religion is a constitutional right.