A chronology of key events:
10th century - Phoenicians, Malays, Swahili and Arab seamen visit island but do not settle.
Island named Dina Robin by Arab mariners.
1498 - Portuguese explorers stumble upon Mauritius in the wake of Vasco da Gama's voyage around the Cape of Good Hope.
1510 - Portuguese navigator Pedro Mascarenhas visits the island and names it Cirné. It is used as a port of call, but the Portuguese do not establish a permanent settlement.
1598 - Dutch claim the uninhabited island and rename it after their head of state, Maurice, Prince of Orange and Count of Nassau.
1638-58 - Dutch settlement begins, but colony soon fails.
1664-1710 - Second Dutch attempt at colonisation fails. The Dutch withdraw permanently. By this time the dodo - a unique bird found only on Mauritius - has become extinct. Pirates inhabit the island.
1715 - French East India Company claims Mauritius for France, renames it Ile de France.
1721-67 - Settlement begins; Port Louis founded as a base for attacking the British in India.
1767 - French East Indies Company sells Mauritius; control of island transferred to French
1796 - Settlers break away from French control when the government in Paris attempts to abolish slavery.
1810 - British forces land in Mauritius after defeating the French in battle at Cap Malheureux.
1812 - Colonel Draper founds the Mauritius Turf Club, which opens the first racecourse in the
southern hemisphere and the second oldest in the world.
1814 - Mauritius, Seychelles and Rodrigues ceded to Britain under Treaty of Paris.
1834 - British abolish slavery. It is phased out on the island under a transition period known as "apprenticeship".
1835 - Indentured labour system introduced. In subsequent decades hundreds of thousands of workers arrive from India.
1847 - Incorrectly-worded Penny Black postage stamps are issued in Mauritius; later they become among the most sought-after stamps in the world.
1876 - Indian rupee becomes official currency.
1910 - Indentured labour system abolished. Between 1834-1910, 451,776 Indians were brought to Mauritius to work on the sugar estates, of which 157,639 returned to India.
1926 - First Indo-Mauritians elected to government council.
1937 - Rioters demand better economic conditions and participation in government.
1942 - Donald Mackenzie-Kennedy becomes governor. Introduces consultative committee which for the first time includes representatives from all Mauritian communities.
1948 - New constitution gives the vote to many Indians and Creoles in an enlarged legislature.
1958 - New constitution - all adults over 21 can vote. Island divided into four single-member constituencies.
1959 - First elections under universal adult suffrage won by MLP, led by Seewoosagur Ramgoolam.
1960 - Cyclone Carol devastates island, leaving thousands homeless and prompting a housing revolution.
1964 - Ethnic rioting; Hindus and Creoles clash.
1965 - Constitutional conference held in London to discuss independence.
1967 - A coalition composed of the Mauritian Labour Party (MLP), the Muslim Committee of Action (CAM) of Sir Abdool Razack Mohamed, and the Independent Forward Bloc (IFB) – a traditionalist Hindu party – won a majority in the 1967 Legislative Assembly election, despite opposition from Franco-Mauritian and Creole supporters of Sir Gaetan Duval QC's and Jules Koenig's Mauritian Social Democratic Party (PMSD).
1968 - 12 March - Independence.
1971 - First Export Processing Zone created. Textiles sector develops. Between 1971-77, 64,000 jobs are created.
1985 - Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, father of nation, dies.
1991 December - Legislative Assembly approves the transition of the nation to a republic within the Commonwealth.
1992 March - Prime Minister Jugnauth declares Mauritius a republic. Legislative Assembly redesignated National Assembly and incumbent governor, General Ringadoo, becomes president.
2018 - 12 March - Celebrates 50th Anniversary.