A chronology of key events:
10th century - Phoenicians, Malays, Swahili and Arab seamen visit island but do not settle. Island named Dina Robin by Arab mariners.
1498 - Portuguese explorers stumble upon Mauritius in the wake of Vasco da Gama's voyage around the Cape of Good Hope.
Mauritius has some of the world's most unspoilt beaches
1510 - Portuguese navigator Pedro Mascarenhas
visits the island and names it Cirn. It is used as a port of call, but
the Portuguese do not establish a permanent settlement.
1598 - Dutch claim the uninhabited island and rename it after their head of state, Maurice, Prince of Orange and Count of Nassau.
1638-58 - Dutch settlement begins, but colony soon fails.
1664-1710 - Second Dutch attempt at colonisation
fails. The Dutch withdraw permanently. By this time the dodo - a unique
bird found only on Mauritius - has become extinct. Pirates inhabit the
1715 - French East India Company claims Mauritius for France, renames it Ile de France.
1721-67 - Settlement begins; Port Louis founded as a base for attacking the British in India.
1767 - French East Indies Company sells Mauritius; control of island transferred to French government.
1796 - Settlers break away from French control when the government in Paris attempts to abolish slavery.
1810 - British forces land in Mauritius after defeating the French in battle at Cap Malheureux.
1812 - Colonel Draper founds the Mauritius Turf
Club, which opens the first racecourse in the southern hemisphere and
the second oldest in the world.
1814 - Mauritius, Seychelles and Rodrigues ceded to Britain under Treaty of Paris.
1834 - British abolish slavery. It is phased out on the island under a transition period known as "apprenticeship".
1835 - Indentured labour system introduced. In subsequent decades hundreds of thousands of workers arrive from India.
1847 - Incorrectly-worded Penny Black postage stamps issued; later become some of the most sought-after stamps in the world.
1866-68 - Malaria epidemic kills more than 40,000 people after Anopheles mosquito accidently introduced.
1876 - Indian rupee becomes official currency.
1912 - Mahatma Gandhi visits.
1910 - Indentured labour system abolished.
Between 1834-1910, 451,776 Indians were brought to Mauritius to work on
the sugar estates, of which 157,639 returned to India.
1926 - First Indo-Mauritians elected to government council.
1936 - Creole politician Dr Maurice Cure founds Mauritian Labour Party (MLP), or Parti Travailliste.
1937 - Rioters demand better economic conditions and participation in government.
1942 - Donald Mackenzie MacDonald becomes governor. Introduces
consultative committee which for the first time includes
representatives from all Mauritian communities.
Princess Alexandra is the first royal to visit after independence
1948 - New constitution gives the vote to many Indians and Creoles in an enlarged legislature.
1957 - Internal self-government introduced, with an electoral system based on the Westminster model.
1958 - New constitution - all adults over 21 can vote. Island divided into four single-member constituencies.
1959 - First elections under universal adult suffrage won by MLP, led by Dr Seewoosagur Ramgoolam.
1961 - Cyclone Carol devastates island, leaving thousands homeless and prompting a housing revolution.
1964 - Ethnic rioting; Hindus and Creoles clash.
1965 - Constitutional conference held in London to discuss independence.
1966 - Britain drives out some 2,000 residents of
the Chagos archipelago, in the Indian Ocean. Many are sent to
Mauritius. Britain leases the Chagos islands to the US for 50 years.
The US builds a military base on the largest island, Diego Garcia.
1968 - 12 March - Independence
1969 - Opposition Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM) founded, advocates socialism, led by Paul Berenger.
1971 - First Export Processing Zone created. Textiles sector develops. Between 1971-77, 64,000 jobs are created.
1971 - MMM, backed by unions, calls a series of
strikes. State of emergency declared, lasts until 1976. MMM party's
1979 - Cyclone Claudette devastates island.
1979 - Mauritius approaches IMF and World Bank for assistance. Country has deficit of $111 million.
1982 - Sir Anerood Jugnauth becomes prime minister.
1985 - Seesowagar Ramgoolam, father of nation, dies
1985 - Drugs scandal at Amsterdam airport; four
MPs arrested on charges of drug smuggling. Inquiry in 1986 implicates
three members of Legislative Assembly. Six more politicians are accused
in 1987 of involvement in the affair.
1989 - Stock Exchange opens in Port Louis.
1991 December - Legislative Assembly approves the transition of the nation to a republic within the Commonwealth.
President from 1992-2002
1992 March - Prime Minister Jugnauth declares
Mauritius a republic. Legislative Assembly redesignated National
Assembly and incumbent governor, General Ringadoo, becomes president.
1992 June - MMM member Cassam Uteem elected president.
1994- Cyclone Hollanda leaves 1,400 people homeless and causes $81million in damage.
1995 December - MLP leader Navin Ramgoolam becomes prime minister.
1999 February - Creole singer Kaya dies in police custody, prompting four days of rioting among Creole community.
Prime minister from 1995-2000
2000 - Mauritius secures a seat on the United Nations Security Council for the first time.
2000 - September - MSM leader Sir Anerood Jugnauth becomes prime minister.
2000 November - High Court in London rules that
Britain acted unlawfully in driving the inhabitants of the Chagos
archipelago from their homes in 1966. Many of the exiles settled in
2002 February - Cassam Uteem resigns as
president, refusing to sign controversial anti-terrorism bill. Vice
president also refuses to sign and resigns. Head of legislature becomes
acting president and passes legislation into law.
2002 - Karl Hoffman elected president by National Assembly.
2002 - "Cyber Cities" plan launched to create concentrations of hi-tech facilities and boost economy.
2003 - Anerood Jugnauth hands over leadership of MSM to his son, Pravind.