Rodriguez or Rodrigues (rōdrēˈgəs) [key], 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. Most of the inhabitants are of African descent; some persons are of European, Indian, and Chinese descent. The population is largely French speaking and Roman Catholic. The main occupations are subsistence farming and fishing. Rodriguez was discovered in 1645 by the Portuguese, was briefly occupied (1691–93) by the Dutch, and was colonized (18th cent.) by the French from Mauritius. Britain took the island in 1810 and administered it as part of Mauritius, which became independent in 1968.