A French territory (colony) near Mauritius. Together they
form the Mascarene Islands.
The island was uninhabited when first discovered by the Portuguese
in early 16th century. Since then people have been brought from
East Africa as slaves; and from Malaya, Vietnam, China and Malabar
in India as indentured labor. There is therefore a varied population
They were brought to work sugar plantations, the main industry
which has unbalanced the economy to the extent that most food
has to be imported.
It is now the main French base for the Indian Ocean.
The population is increasing rapidly and many have to emigrate,
mainly to France.