Economic Zones (EEZ) contiguous to these islands. The paperis an attempt to understand and analyse the French presence on theislands in the Indian Ocean.
France has a long-standing presence in the Indian Ocean especially in itssouth-west since the early days of colonialism in the 17th century. Rivaling withBritain for supremacy, it established trading and military posts on Indian Oceanlittoral with strong presence in Chandernagore, Pondicherry, Yemen, Mahe, andKarikal during 17
centuries. France founded its colonies in the islandsof Reunion in 1664, Mauritius in 1718, Seychelles in 1756, and Madagascar in1883. After a series of wars with Britain during the 18th century and the first half of 19th century, France lost many of its colonies and subsequently gave up itscolonial ambitions in the Indian Ocean region. The Region was dominated by theBritish Empire in 19
till the mid 20
century. After India‟s independence in
1947 France lost Pondicherry in 1954. It however retained the islands of Reunion,Mayotte, Comoros and the strategically located French scattered islands and itsSouthern and Antarctic Lands.
Having established its presence in the region for a long time, France has ahigh degree of influence in the western Indian Ocean and considers it of strategicimportance. Using its cultural-linguistic ties and military power, France hasintended to play a role in this area to protect its national interest and hasmaintained close co-operation with its former island colonies. Inspite of itslocational distance of some 9,000 km from the region, France is geographicallypresent in the islands of Réunion, Mayotte, the scattered Islands in theMozambique Channel, and the French Southern and Antarctic Territories. Francehas defence needs, sovereignty obligations and economic stakes in the ExclusiveEconomic Zones (EEZ) of about 2 700 000 sq km. contiguous to its islandpossessions.