Mauritius ( (listen); French: Maurice), officially the Republic of Mauritius (French: République de Maurice), is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) off the southeast coast of the African continent. The country includes the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues, 560 kilometres (350 mi) east of Mauritius, and the outer islands of Agaléga and St. Brandon. The islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues form part of the Mascarene Islands, along with nearby Reunion island. The area of the country is 2,040 km2 (790 sq mi). The capital and largest city is Port Louis.
Formerly a French colony (1715–1810), Mauritius became a British colonial possession in 1810 and remained so until 1968, the year in which it attained independence. The British Crown colony of Mauritius once included the current territories of Mauritius, Rodrigues, the outer islands of Agaléga, St. Brandon, Chagos Archipelago, and Seychelles. The Mauritian territories gradually devolved with the creation of a separate colony of Seychelles in 1903 and the excision of the Chagos Archipelago in 1965. The sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago is disputed between Mauritius and the United Kingdom. The UK excised the archipelago from Mauritian territory in 1965, three years prior to Mauritian independence. The UK gradually depopulated the archipelago's local population and leased its biggest island, Diego Garcia, to the United States. Access to the Chagos Archipelago is prohibited to casual tourists, the media, and its former inhabitants. Mauritius also claims sovereignty over Tromelin Island from France.
The Mauritius campaign of 1809–1811 was a series of amphibious operations and naval actions fought to determine possession of the French Indian Ocean territories of Île de France and Île Bonaparte during the Napoleonic Wars. The campaign lasted from the spring of 1809 until the spring of 1811, and saw both the Royal Navy and the French Navy deploy substantial frigate squadrons with the intention of disrupting or protecting trade from British India. In a war in which the Royal Navy was almost universally dominant at sea, the campaign is especially notable for the local superiority enjoyed by the French Navy in the autumn of 1810 following the British disaster at the Battle of Grand Port, the most significant defeat for the Royal Navy in the entire conflict.
The Royal Navy had been planning an operation against Île de France since the capture of the Dutch East Indies in 1806, but was forced to act earlier than expected following the despatch from France of a powerful frigate squadron under Commodore Jacques Hamelin in late 1808. This force was able to capture a number of East Indiamen and disrupt trade routes across the Indian Ocean by raiding the convoys in which the merchant ships travelled. Forced to confront this enemy, Admiral Albemarle Bertie at the Cape of Good Hope ordered Commodore Josias Rowley to blockade the French islands and prevent their use as raiding bases.
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Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais (comte de La Bourdonnais) (Saint-Malo, 11 February 1699 – Paris, 10 November 1753) was a French naval officer and administrator, in the service of the French East India Company.
La Bourdonnais was born on 11 February 1699 in Saint-Malo, Brittany. He went to sea when a boy, and in 1718 entered the service of the French East India Company as a lieutenant. In 1724 he was promoted captain, and displayed such bravery in the capture of Mahé off the Malabar Coast that the name of the town was added to his own. For two years he was in the service of the Portuguese Viceroy of Goa, but in 1735 he returned to French service as governor of the Île de France (Mauritius) and the Île de Bourbon (Réunion). His first five years' administration of the islands was vigorous and successful. A visit to France in 1740 was interrupted by the outbreak of hostilities with Great Britain, and La Bourdonnais was put at the head of a fleet in Indian waters.
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