Africa > East Africa > Mauritius > Mauritius Geography Profile

Mauritius: Mauritius Geography Profile


 Indian ocean,Mauritius,Sugar Cane Plantation


The African island country of Mauritius is located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar. With a total area of about 1,860 square kilometers (718 square miles), the country is about eleven times the size of Washington, D.C. Mauritius is divided into nine districts and three dependencies.


Rodrigues Island, and the island groups of Agalega Islands and Cargados Carajos Shoals (as well called the St. Brandon group), are all dependencies of Mauritius. They as well are located in the Indian Ocean, north and east of Mauritius.


Mauritius has a maritime climate with temperatures that vary by altitude. At sea level temperatures range from 18°C to 30°C (64° to 86°F); at an elevation of 460 meters (1,500 feet), they range from 13°C to 26°C (55° to 79°F). Because it is in the tropics, Mauritius\'s climate is mostly humid, with prevailing southeast winds. The warmest months are October through April (summer) and the coolest are June through September (winter).

Due to the tradewinds, the central plateau and windward slopes experience heavy rains from October to March. These areas have an annual average rainfall of additional than 500 centimeters (200 inches). On the coast, yearly rainfall averages about 100 centimeters (40 inches). From April to September, daily showers occur; between December and April, occasional tropical cyclones strike Mauritius.


Mauritius is a picturesque island country, with rugged volcanic features and a large fertile plain. The compact major 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 presently 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 again slopes toward a northern coastal plain. Several low mountain groups and isolated peaks rise above the level of the plateau, forming a additional 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.


Seacoast and Undersea Features

The Indian Ocean surrounds Mauritius and its dependencies. Third-major 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.

Sea Inlets and Straits

The Grand River Bay lies just south of the Port Louis Harbor. Just north of the harbor is Tom-beau Bay. Grand Bay, located near the city of the same name, is situated in the far northwest shore. Tamarin Bay, by the city of Tamarin north of the Black River, is a popular spot for surfers. These, inclunding a lot of other small inlets along the Mauritius coast, boast beautiful coral sand beaches.

Islands and Archipelagos

The inhabited Rodrigues Island lies about 560 kilometers (350 miles) to the northeast of Mauritius. It has an area of about 110 square kilometers (42.5 square miles) and a people of about 34,000. An extra dependency, Agalega, lies 1,122 kilometers (697 miles) north of Mauritius and consists of two islands: North Island and South Island. Agalega has a combined area of 70 square kilometers (27 square miles).

Coral atolls surround Mauritius, inclunding the Cargados Carajos Shoals (St. Brandon Group). Nature preserves protect the natural habitat on neighboring Round Island (Île Ronde) and Serpents Island (Île aux Serpents), part others.

Coastal Features

A few long stretches of white sand beaches line the country on the north and east. A lagoon exists at Flic-en-Flac on the midwestern coast, south of Port Louis.



Grand Bassin and Bassin Blanc, both of which lie in craters of extinct volcanoes, are two of the country\'s natural lakes. Grand Bassin, about 6 kilometers (4 miles) southeast of Mare aux Vacoas in the southwest, is believed to be sacred by Hindus. Several reservoirs are as well located on the island, inclunding La Nicolière in the north, Piton du Milieu in the central area, and Mare aux Vacoas, the major reservoir, in the south.


Numerous rivers flow through Mauritius. The Grand River South East is the country\'s longest river, at 40 kilometers (25 miles) in length. It is located in the central-eastern region. The other major rivers are Black River (Rivière Noire), Post River (Rivière du Poste), Grand River North West, and Rempert River. Several waterfalls exist; the highest are the Tamarin Falls in the west at 293 meters (961 feet) in height.


There are no desert regions in Mauritius.


The coastal plains cover about 46 % of the country, and most of these are located in the north. Nearly 50 % of the land is arable, but only about 10 % of the economic output comes from agriculture. Sugarcane is a primary crop.


All island of Mauritius is of volcanic origin, having risen from the sea floor roughly ten million years ago. Three mountain ranges border the central plateau of Mauritius: Moka to the northwest, Grand Port to the east, and Black River to the southwest. The highest peak on the island, Black River Peak (Piton de la Rivière Noire), is in the southwest region of the country, in the Black River Mountain Range.


Caverne Patate, located in the southwest corner of the island of Rodrigues, is a series of coral rock and limestone caves popular with tourists that stretches for about 795 meters (2608 feet). The mainland of Mauritius contains several lava caves (often called cellars); a lot of of them are unexplored, however.

Canyons serve as the center point for the Black River Gorges National Park, created in 1994 as the country\'s initial national conservation area.


From elevations of approximately 670 meters (2,200 feet) near the southern coastline, a broad central plateau slopes toward a northern coastal plain. The country\'s mountain ranges surround the plateau.


There are ten man-made reservoirs in Mauritius. Earthfill dams created these reservoirs to retain fresh water for drinking and irrigation. Some of the dams as well provide hydroelectric power.


Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar

Geographic coordinates: 

20 17 S, 57 33 E

Map references: 


Area comparative: 

almost 11 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries Total: 

0 km

Land boundaries Note: 


tropical, modified by southeast trade winds; warm, dry winter (May to November); hot, wet, humid summer (November to May)


small coastal plain rising to discontinuous mountains encircling central plateau

Natural resources: 

arable land, fish

Natural hazards: 

cyclones (November to April); almost completely surrounded by reefs that may pose maritime hazards

Environment - current issues: 

water pollution, degradation of coral reefs

Geography note: 

the main island, from which the country derives its name, is of volcanic origin and is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs; home of the dodo, a large flightless bird related to pigeons, driven to extinction by the end of the 17th century through a combination of hunting and the introduction of predatory species