Mauritius became an important base connecting the trade routes from Europe to the Far East. Thus, before the opening of the Suez canal, the island was named " the star and the key of the Indian Ocean". In 1810 the British took over the island after a five day battle. The French surrendered to the British and a treaty was signed by the French and the British pursuant to which the French occupiers of the island were allowed occupation of their property, the use of their language and customs and the prevailing laws, especially the Code Napoleon, the Code de Commerce and the Code penale.
Mauritius became independent in 1968 and a republic in 1992. It is a democratic state and elections are held every five years. Despite its accession to the status of a republic, Mauritius has maintained its membership in the Commonwealth and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as its court of final appeal.