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MAURITIUS is a beautiful island republic that lies in the Indian Ocean some 800 kilometers or 497 miles east of Madagascar. The islands of Rodrigues and Agalega are also part of Mauritius.
Mauritius is a volcanic island with many craters surrounded by lava flows. The central plateau rises to over 800 meters or 2,625 feet, then drops sharply to the south and west coasts.
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The climate is hot and humid, with southwesterly winds bringing heavy rain in the uplands and the possibility of cyclones from December to April.
The island has well-watered fertile soil, ideal for the sugar plantations covering 45 percent of the island. Although molasses and sugar export still dominates the economy, diversification is being encouraged – other crops such as tea, tobacco, peanuts, and vegetables grown.
The clothing and electronic equipment industries are becoming increasingly essential, and tourism is now the third-largest foreign exchange source.
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Mauritius is a picturesque island nation with rugged volcanic features and a large fertile plain. The compact main island is the worn and eroded base of an extinct volcano. It stands on a mostly undersea feature called the Mascarene Plateau (a ridge that for much of its length now lies underwater in the Indian Ocean and runs from north to south). The Mascarene Plateau was once a land bridge between Asia and Africa. The island’s surface consists of a broad plateau that begins on the southern coastline, with elevations of approximately 670 meters (2,200 feet), and then slopes toward a northern coastal plain. Several low mountain groups and isolated peaks rise above the plateau’s level, forming a more rugged landscape. A coral reef nearly encircles the island. Mauritius sits on the African Tectonic Plate but not near enough to any plate boundaries or fault lines to experience any major earthquakes or tectonic activity.
The Indian Ocean surrounds Mauritius and its dependencies. Third-largest of the five oceans of the world, the Indian Ocean extends north to south from Asia to Antarctica and east to west from Africa to Australia. A large coral reef entirely surrounds Mauritius, except for a few small breaks along the coast. A large break in the reef occurs on the southern coast between Souillac and Le Bouchon, and a smaller gap occurs on the western coast at Flic-en-Flac.
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Mauritius’s designation as a tropical island is based on its location between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The Tropic of Cancer is the parallel of latitude located at 23°30’ north of the equator. The Tropic of Capricorn is located at the parallel of latitude that is 23°30’ south of the equator. These imaginary lines mark the boundaries of an area where the sun will appear to be directly overhead – or at a 90°-angle to the earth – at twelve o’clock noon. North or south of these lines, the sun’s angle at noon appears to be less than 90°. The lines were named after the constellations that the sun moves through during the winter and summer solstices (Capricorn on December 21 or 22 and Cancer on June 21 or 22).
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