Mascarene Islands

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Mascarene Islands

(măskərēn`), in the Indian Ocean, E of Madagascar. They include MauritiusMauritius
, officially Republic of Mauritius, republic (2005 est. pop. 1,231,000), 790 sq mi (2,046 sq km), in the SW Indian Ocean. It is part of the Mascarene Islands, c.500 mi (800 km) E of Madagascar.
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, RéunionRéunion
, island and overseas department of France (2005 est. pop. 777,000), c.970 sq mi (2,510 sq km), one of the Mascarene Islands, in the Indian Ocean c.430 mi (690 km) E of Madagascar. Saint-Denis (the capital) and Le Port (the leading port) are the chief cities.
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, and RodriguezRodriguez
or Rodrigues
, island (1996 est. pop. 34,883), 42 sq mi (109 sq km), in the Indian Ocean, c.350 mi (560 km) E of Mauritius, of which it is a dependency. One of the Mascarene Islands, it is surrounded by coral reef. Port Mathurin is the chief town.
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. Apparently known to the Arabs, they were rediscovered by the Portuguese at the beginning of the 16th cent. The islands are named for Pedro Mascarenhas, who visited them c.1512.

Mascarene Islands

 

a group of islands in the Indian Ocean, east of the island of Madagascar. The group consists of three large islands: Reunion (a French possession), Mauritius, and Rodriguez (both part of the independent state of Mauritius). They are composed of volcanic rock and have elevations to 3,069 (on Reunion). There are active volcanos on the Mascarene Islands. The climate is tropical, trade-wind, and damp. The wind-ward slopes of the mountains have areas of evergreen tropical forests; on the leeward slopes there is savanna. The islands have sugarcane, coconut palm, tea, aloe, coffee, and vanilla plantations. The first European to reach the islands was the Portuguese Pedro de Mascarenhas in 1507.