| East of Madagascar lie the islands of Mauritius. The Dutch discovered the uninhabited islands in 1507 but never established settlements to any great extent. The French arrived in 1721, establishing plantations with slave labor from Africa. The British captured Mauritius in 1810. When the empire abolished slavery in 1834, laborers from india were brought in to work the sugar cane plantations. As a result, most of the population of Mauritius today is of Indian background. In 1968, the country became a parliamentary democracy within the British Commonwealth. Nearly a quarter of a century later, it became a republic; Caseem Uteem was elected as the first prime minster. The country has developed a strong economy, based on sugar, textiles and tourism.