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Throughout its history, Mauritius’s involvement in wars has been closely related to its geopolitical position within colonial empires. The island, lying about 900 kilometers east of Madagascar, was not involved in wars until the 18th century, when the Indian Ocean turned into an arena of imperial warfare between European maritime powers. Before 1638, when the Dutch Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) established a fort here to supply its East India fleet, the island had been visited by Arab traders, Portuguese explorers, and possibly also by Phoenician, Dravidian, and Malay ships but had not been permanently settled. The Dutch fort lost its strategic importance as a way station when the VOC created its colony at the Cape in 1652 and was gradually given up until 1710.

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