Mauritius is surrounded by coral reefs. A central plateau is ringed by mountains of volcanic origin, which rise to c.2,700 ft (820 m) in the southwest. The island has a tropical, rainy climate. Mauritius is divided into nine districts.
Over two thirds of the population are of Indian descent, and over 25% are creole (of mixed French and African background). There are also small Chinese and French communities. About half of the people are Hindu, while 30% are Christian (mainly Roman Catholic), and most of the remainder are Muslim. English is the official language, although most of the people speak a creole dialect; other languages include Bojpoori, French, Hindi, Urdu, and Hakka.