Mauritius, officially the Republic of Mauritius, an Indian Ocean island nation, is known for its beaches, lagoons and reefs. The capital and largest city is Port Louis. The island of Mauritius was visited during the Middle Ages by the Arabs and then by the Portuguese, who named it Dina Arobiand Cirne, respectively. The island was uninhabited until the Dutch Republic established a colony in 1638, with the Dutch naming the island after Prince Maurice van Nassau. The Dutch colony was abandoned in 1710, and, five years later, the island became a French colony and was named Isle de France. Due to its strategic position, Mauritius was known as the "star and key" of the Indian Ocean.
The people of Mauritius are multiethnic, multi-religious, multicultural and multilingual. Along with the other Mascarene Islands, Mauritius is known for its varied flora and fauna, with many species endemic to the island. The island is widely known as the only known home of the dodo, which, along with several other avian species, was made extinct by human activities relatively shortly after the island's settlement. Mauritius is the only country in Africa where Hinduism is the largest religion.