Mauritius is a mountainous, volcanic island situated in the Indian Ocean. The island is approximately 800km east of Madagascar between longitudes 57 18 and 57 49 east and latitudes 19 59' and 20 32' south. Mauritius has a total land area of about 1 865 square kilometres and is 61km long and 46km wide at its most extreme points.
Although Mauritius is a volcanic island there has been no volcanic activity for over 100,000 years. The island is relatively young geologically speaking, with its creation caused by volcanic activity 12 million years ago.
Mauritius is encircled by a broken ring of mountain ranges, varying in height from 300 meters to 800 meters above sea level. Mountains cover about 18 percent of the island.
Streams and rivers speckle the island; a lot of them are formed in the cracks created by new and old lava flows. Heavy flows of water are common during the storms and cyclones. Mauritius has two natural lakes, both crater lakes. The biggest manmade body of water is Mare aux Vacoas.
Rodrigues Island, Mauritiuss sister island, was formed earlier but in a similar way. Its positioned lengthwise on an east-west axis, along which runs a mountain range about 600 meters above sea level.
The other dependencies of Mauritius are coralline rather than volcanic islands. The 2 Agalega islands are linked by a sandbar and covered with coconut palms trees. The Cargados Carajos Shoals are a collection of over twenty islands, none of which are more than one square kilometre in area, which are mainly fishing stations.