The Mascareignes Archipel is made up of Mauritius, Reunion island and Rodrigues. It obtained its name after the navigator Pedro Mascarenhas who was one of the first Europeans to indicate its existence at the beginning of the 16th century.
Mauritius is situated 890 km to the east of Madagascar, between 19°50' and 20°32' of South Latitude and 57°18' and 57°46' of East Longitude. Reunion, a French island, is 200 km south west from Mauritius and Rodrigues, an island forming part of the Mauritian territory, 600 km to the East North East from Mauritius.
Of volcanic origin, these islands separated by sea pits of 4,000 metres deep, have emerged from the abysses as a result of gigantic underwater volcanic eruptions that happened thousands of kilometres to the east of the continental block made up by Africa and Madagascar.
Regarding the age of these different islands, it is known that Mauritius has started to emerge some 8 million years ago whereas Reunion emerged some 5 million years later. Even if the plateau located under the lagoon surrounding Rodrigues may be much more ancient than the island itself, Rodrigues is only 1.5 million years old.
Mauritius has an area of 1,860 Km2 and is made up of a central plateau gradually rising towards the south west where it reaches its highest point of 828 metres at Piton de la Rivière Noire. This plateau is still surrounded with what is remaining from the primary crater in the form of a chain of mountains (Moka, Corps de Garde, Pieter Both) and some isolated peaks (Piton du Milieu, Motte à Thérèse).