Mauritius /məˈrɪʃəs/ (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, Rodrigues (560 kilometres (350 mi) east of the principal island), the islands of Agalega and the archipelago Saint Brandon. Mauritius claims sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago situated 1,287 kilometres (800 mi) to the north east; the United Kingdom excised the archipelago from Mauritian territory prior to Mauritius' independence and gradually depopulated it. The islands of Mauritius, Rodrigues and Réunion, 170 km (110 mi) south west, form part of the Mascarene Islands. The area of the country is 2040 km2. Its capital is Port Louis.The first Portuguese explorers found no indigenous people living on the island in 1507. The Dutch settled on the island in 1638 and abandoned it in 1710. Five years later, the island became a French colony and was renamed Isle de France. The British took control of Mauritius in 1810 during the Napoleonic Wars. The country remained under British rule until it became an independent Commonwealth realm on 12 March 1968 and a republic within the Commonwealth on 12 March 1992.The country is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural; most Mauritians are multilingual, and English, French, Creole and Asian languages are used. The government system is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system. Mauritius is highly ranked for democracy and for economic and political freedom.The island of Mauritius was the only home of the Dodo bird. The bird became extinct fewer than eighty years after its discovery.