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Even with a stable population of 1.3 million, the 720 sq mile (1865 sq kms) island has happily preserved the gem-like quality of a recent birth from the sea. It is set in a striking-blue 260 sq km lagoon pencilled with stark-white reefs. The island relief is modest - peaking at 826 m- but vivid, with alternating volumes of granite and carvings said to have been chiselled in the times of Lemuria: Triple Breasts, Cat and Tortoise, Central Tit, The Thumb, and this peculiar Pieter Both head on its slender neck, named after a shipwrecked Dutch admiral (1615), inspiring the mythology of Petrusmok, the surrealist work of poet Malcolm de Chazal, and integrated into the design of the republic's branding.

The world of blue, with its waist girdled by 32 kms of coral sand beaches,glides easily into the world of green at the Black River Gorges or the forest of the Maccabees. The main island is surrounded by beads of islets of all sizes and manners of interest: Ile aux Benitiers, shaped like a font or perhaps a shell, Round Island (and its indigenous palm), Ile aux Serpents (and its unique species of reptiles), Ile aux Aigrettes (with its invocation to native flora), Ile d'Ambre (associated with the folkloric novel of B. de St,Pierre:Paul et Virginie, l'Ile de la Passe (guarding the channel into the Bay of Mahebourg,the historical port with propitious trade winds;where a glorious sea battle was won by the French - its name on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris - before the island was lost to the British (1810).

In this subtropical climate temperatures are mild and the light has clear feminine attributes.

The multicoloured population originates from successive waves of immigration: French, Madagascans,Africans, Indians and Chinese, all partial to their colourful cultural festivals and practices and active agents of the microcosm.

Rodrigues, the second largest island has a slightly different history. it lies 560 miles to the north-east of Mauritius at ninety minutes by air and prides itself of a specific identity,with slight to evident differences in accent, climate, culture, sea lore and unsophisticated tourism.          

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