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La Réunion  (French)
Saint-Denis @ La Reunion.jpg
Capital of Saint-Denis
Florebo quocumque ferar
(I will flourish wherever I am brought)
Departement 974 in France (zoom).svg
Coordinates: 21°06′52″S55°31′57″E / 21.11444°S 55.53250°E / -21.11444; 55.53250 Coordinates: 21°06′52″S55°31′57″E / 21.11444°S 55.53250°E / -21.11444; 55.53250
CountryFlag of France.svg France
Prefecture Saint-Denis
Departments 1
   President of Regional Council Didier Robert (LR)
  Total2,511 km2 (970 sq mi)
Area rank15th region
 (January 2021) [1]
  Density340/km2 (890/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Réunionese
Time zone UTC+04:00 (RET)
ISO 3166 code
GDP (nominal) (2019) [2] Ranked 13th
Total€19.7 billion (US$22.0 bn)
Per capita€22,970 (US$25,720)
NUTS Region FRY4
Website Prefecture
Regional Council
Departmental Council

Réunion (French : La Réunion, [la ʁe.y.njɔ̃] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); Reunionese Creole : La Rénion; previously Île Bourbon) is an island in the Indian Ocean that is an overseas department and region of France. It is located approximately 550 km (340 mi) east of the island of Madagascar and 175 km (109 mi) southwest of the island of Mauritius. As of January 2021, it had a population of 858,450. [1]


Like the other four overseas departments, Réunion also holds the status of a region of France, and is an integral part of the French Republic. Réunion is an outermost region of the European Union and is part of the eurozone. [3] Réunion and the fellow French overseas department of Mayotte are the only eurozone regions located in the Southern Hemisphere.

Lo Maveli or Lo Mahaveli, the unofficial flag of Reunion from 2003 used officially by various local authorities, like Saint-Denis and Saint-Philippe. Proposed flag of Reunion (VAR).svg
Lo Mavéli or Lö Mahavéli, the unofficial flag of Réunion from 2003 used officially by various local authorities, like Saint-Denis and Saint-Philippe.

As in the rest of France, the official language of Réunion is French. In addition, a majority of the region's population speaks Réunion Creole.


The island has been inhabited since the 16th century, when people from France and Madagascar settled there. Slavery was abolished on 20 December 1848 (a date celebrated yearly on the island), when the French Second Republic abolished slavery in the French colonies. However, indentured workers continued to be brought to Réunion from South India, among other places. The island became an overseas department of France in 1946.

An 1816 ten-centime coin from Reunion, from when it was still called Isle de Bourbon 10-cent-1816-Isle-Bourbon.jpg
An 1816 ten-centime coin from Réunion, from when it was still called Isle de Bourbon

Not much is known of Réunion's history prior to the arrival of the Portuguese in the early 16th century. [4] Arab traders were familiar with it by the name Dina Morgabin, "Western Island". [5] The island is possibly featured on a map from 1153 AD by Al Sharif el-Edrisi.[ citation needed ] The island might also have been visited by Swahili or Austronesian (Ancient Indonesian–Malaysian) sailors on their journey to the west from the Malay Archipelago to Madagascar. [4]

The first European discovery of the area was made around 1507 by Portuguese explorer Diogo Fernandes Pereira, but the specifics are unclear. The uninhabited island might have been first sighted by the expedition led by Dom Pedro Mascarenhas, who gave his name to the island group around Réunion, the Mascarenes. [6] Réunion itself was dubbed Santa Apolónia after a favourite saint, [5] which suggests that the date of the Portuguese discovery could have been 9 February, her saint day. Diogo Lopes de Sequeira is said to have landed on the islands of Réunion and Rodrigues in 1509.[ citation needed ]

By the early 1600s, nominal Portuguese rule had left Santa Apolónia virtually untouched. [6] The island was then occupied by France and administered from Port Louis, Mauritius. Although the first French claims date from 1638, when François Cauche and Salomon Goubert visited in June 1638, [7] the island was officially claimed by Jacques Pronis of France in 1642, when he deported a dozen French mutineers to the island from Madagascar. The convicts were returned to France several years later, and in 1649, the island was named Île Bourbon after the French royal House of Bourbon. Colonisation started in 1665, when the French East India Company sent the first settlers. [6]

Statue of Mahe de La Bourdonnais in Saint-Denis MaheDeLaBourdonnais 2.JPG
Statue of Mahé de La Bourdonnais in Saint-Denis

Following the fall of the House of Bourbon during the French Revolution, the island was renamed "Île de la Réunion" in 1793 by a decree of the Convention Nationale (the elected revolutionary constituent assembly). This new name commemorates the union of revolutionaries from Marseille with the National Guard in Paris, which took place on 10 August 1792. In 1801, the island was renamed "Île Bonaparte", after First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte.

In 1810, during the Napoleonic Wars, the island was invaded by a British Royal Navy squadron led by Commodore Josias Rowley, and the British authorities used the old name of "Bourbon". When the island was restored to France by the Congress of Vienna in 1815, it retained the name of "Bourbon". This continued until the fall of the restored Bourbons during the French Revolution of 1848, when the island was once again given the name "Île de la Réunion". [6]

From the 17th to the 19th centuries, French colonisation, supplemented by importing Africans, Chinese and Indians as workers, contributed to ethnic diversity in the population. From 1690, most of the non-Europeans on the island were enslaved. The colony abolished slavery on 20 December 1848. Afterwards, many of the foreign workers came as indentured workers. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 reduced the importance of the island as a stopover on the East Indies trade route.[ citation needed ]

Hindu festival, 19th century Fete des travailleurs indiens.jpg
Hindu festival, 19th century

During the Second World War, Réunion was under the authority of the Vichy regime until 30 November 1942, when Free French forces took over the island with the destroyer Léopard.[ citation needed ]

Réunion became a département d'outre-mer (overseas département) of France on 19 March 1946. INSEE assigned to Réunion the department code 974, and the region code 04 when regional councils were created in 1982 in France, including in existing overseas departments which also became overseas regions.

Over about two decades in the late 20th century (1963–1982), 1,630 children from Réunion were relocated to rural areas of metropolitan France, particularly to Creuse, ostensibly for education and work opportunities. That program was led by influential Gaullist politician Michel Debré, who was an MP for Réunion at the time. Many of these children were abused or disadvantaged by the families with whom they were placed. Known as the Children of Creuse, they and their fate came to light in 2002 when one of them, Jean-Jacques Martial, filed suit against the French state for kidnapping and deportation of a minor. [8] Other similar lawsuits were filed over the following years, but all were dismissed by French courts and finally by the European Court of Human Rights in 2011. [9]

In 2005 and 2006, Réunion was hit by a crippling epidemic of chikungunya, a disease spread by mosquitoes. According to the BBC News, 255,000 people on Réunion had contracted the disease as of 26 April 2006. [10] The neighbouring islands of Mauritius and Madagascar also suffered epidemics of this disease during the same year. [11] [12] A few cases also appeared in mainland France, carried by people travelling by airline. The French government of Dominique de Villepin sent an emergency aid package worth €36 million and deployed about 500 troops in an effort to eradicate mosquitoes on the island.[ citation needed ]


Map of the European Union (pre January 31st 2020) in the world with overseas countries and territories and outermost regions EU OCT and OMR map en.png
Map of the European Union (pre January 31st 2020) in the world with overseas countries and territories and outermost regions

Réunion sends seven deputies to the French National Assembly and three senators to the Senate.

Administrative divisions

Administratively, Réunion is divided into 24  communes (municipalities) grouped into four arrondissements. It is also subdivided into 49  cantons, meaningful only for electoral purposes at the departmental or regional level. [13] It is a French overseas department, hence a French overseas region. The low number of communes, compared with French metropolitan departments of similar size and population, is unique: most of its communes encompass several localities, sometimes separated by significant distances.

Municipalities (communes)

NameArea (km2)PopulationCoat of ArmsArrondissementMap
Bras-Panon 88.5512,768 Blason Ville Fr Bras-Panon (Reunion).svg Saint-Benoît Locator map of Bras-Panon 2018.png
Cilaos 84.45,492 Blason ville DomFr Cilaos (Reunion).svg Saint-Pierre Locator map of Cilaos 2018.png
Entre-Deux 66.836,914 Blason ville DomFr Entre-Deux (Reunion).svg Saint-Pierre Locator map of Entre-Deux 2018.png
L'Étang-Salé 38.6514,108 Blason ville DomFr Etang-Sale (Reunion).svg Saint-Pierre Locator map of L'Etang-Sale 2018.png
La Plaine-des-Palmistes 83.196,568 Saint-Benoît Locator map of La Plaine-des-Palmistes 2018.png
La Possession 118.3532,633 Blason ville DomFr La Possession (Reunion).svg Saint-Paul Locator map of La Possession 2018.png
Le Port 16.6233,531 LOGO LE PORT 2016.jpg Saint-Paul Locator map of Le Port 2018.png
Le Tampon 165.4379,385 Ville du Tampon (Reunion).png Saint-Pierre Locator map of Le Tampon 2018.png
Les Avirons 26.2711,246 Blason ville DomFr Les Avirons (La Reunion).svg Saint-Pierre Locator map of Les Avirons 2018.png
Les Trois-Bassins 42.587,076 Saint-Paul Locator map of Les Trois-Bassins 2018.png
Petite-Île 33.9312,308 Blason ville Fr Petite-Ile (Reunion).svg Saint-Pierre Locator map of Petite-Ile 2018.png
Saint-André 53.0756,747 Saint-Benoît Locator map of Saint-Andre 2018.png
Saint-Benoît 229.6137,274 Saint-Benoît Locator map of Saint-Benoit 2018.png
Saint-Denis 142.79150,535 Blason St-Denis Reunion DOM.svg Saint-Denis Locator map of Saint-Denis 2018.png
Saint-Joseph 178.537,517 Ville de Saint-Joseph (Reunion).png Saint-Pierre Locator map of Saint-Joseph 2018.png
Saint-Leu 118.3734,196 Blason ville DomFr Saint-Leu (Reunion).svg Saint-Paul Locator map of Saint-Leu 2018.png
Saint-Louis 98.953,589 Blason ville DomFr Saint-Louis (Reunion).svg Saint-Pierre Locator map of Saint-Louis - Reunion 2018.png
Saint-Paul 241.28103,492 Blason ville fr Saint-Paul (La Reunion).svg Saint-Paul Locator map of Saint-Paul 2018.png
Saint-Philippe 153.945,149 Saint-Pierre Locator map of Saint-Philippe 2018.png
Saint-Pierre 95.9984,961 Blason St-Pierre Reunion DOM.svg Saint-Pierre Locator map of Saint-Pierre 2018.png
Sainte-Marie 87.2133,234 Blason ville DomFr Sainte-Marie (Reunion).svg Saint-Denis Locator map of Sainte-Marie 2018.png
Sainte-Rose 177.66,296 Saint-Benoît Locator map of Sainte-Rose - Reunion 2018.png
Sainte-Suzanne 58.8423,718 Saint-Denis Locator map of Sainte-Suzanne 2018.png
Salazie 103.827,224 Blason DomFr Salazie (Reunion).svg Saint-Benoît Locator map of Salazie 2018.png

The communes voluntarily grouped themselves into five intercommunalities for cooperating in some domains, apart from the four arrondissements to which they belong for purposes of applying national laws and executive regulation. After some changes in the composition, name and status of intercommunalities, all of them operate with the status of agglomeration communities, and apply their own local taxation (in addition to national, regional, departmental, and municipal taxes) and have an autonomous budget decided by the assembly representing all member communes. This budget is also partly funded by the state, the region, the department, and the European Union for some development and investment programs. Every commune in Réunion is now a member of an intercommunality with its own taxation, to which member communes have delegated their authority in various areas.

Foreign relations

Although diplomacy, military, and French government matters are handled by Paris, Réunion is a member of La Francophonie, the Indian Ocean Commission, the International Trade Union Confederation, the Universal Postal Union, the Port Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa, and the World Federation of Trade Unions in its own right.


La Reunion department location map.svg
La Reunion department relief location map.jpg

The island is 63 km (39 mi) long; 45 km (28 mi) wide; and covers 2,512 km2 (970 sq mi). It is above a hotspot in the Earth's crust. The Piton de la Fournaise, a shield volcano on the eastern end of Réunion Island, rises more than 2,631 m (8,632 ft) above sea level and is sometimes called a sister to Hawaiian volcanoes because of the similarity of climate and volcanic nature. It has erupted more than 100 times since 1640, and is under constant monitoring, most recently erupting on 2 April 2020. [14] During another eruption in April 2007, the lava flow was estimated at 3,000,000 m3 (3,900,000 cu yd) per day. [15] The hotspot that fuels Piton de la Fournaise also created the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues.

The Piton des Neiges volcano, the highest point on the island at 3,070 m (10,070 ft) above sea level, is northwest of the Piton de la Fournaise. Collapsed calderas and canyons are south west of the mountain. While the Piton de la Fournaise is one of Earth's most active volcanoes, the Piton des Neiges is dormant. Its name is French for "peak of snows", but snowfall on the summit of the mountain is rare. The slopes of both volcanoes are heavily forested. Cultivated land and cities like the capital city of Saint-Denis are concentrated on the surrounding coastal lowlands. Offshore, part of the west coast is characterised by a coral reef system. Réunion also has three calderas: the Cirque de Salazie, the Cirque de Cilaos and the Cirque de Mafate. The last is accessible only on foot or by helicopter.


Koppen climate classification map of Reunion Climat Reunion.jpg
Köppen climate classification map of Réunion

The climate in Réunion is tropical, but temperature moderates with elevation. The weather is cool and dry from May to November, but hot and rainy from November to April. Precipitation levels vary greatly within the island, with the east being much wetter than the west. More than 6 m of rain a year fall on some parts of the east and less than 1 m a year falls on the west coast. [16] Réunion holds the world records for the most rainfall in 12-, 24-, 72- and 96-hour periods. [17]


Réunion hosts many tropical and unique beaches. They are often equipped with barbecues, amenities, and parking spaces. Hermitage Beach is the most extensive and best-preserved lagoon in Réunion Island and a popular snorkelling location. [18] It is a white sand beach lined with casuarina trees under which the locals often organise picnics. La Plage des Brisants is a well-known surfing spot, with many athletic and leisurely activities taking place. Each November, a film festival is also organised in La Plage des Brisant's. Movies are projected on a large screen in front of a crowd. Beaches at Boucan Canot are surrounded by a stretch of restaurants that particularly cater to tourists. L'Étang-Salé on the west coast is a particularly unique beach as it is covered in black sand consisting of tiny fragments of basalt. This occurs when lava contacts water, it cools rapidly and shatters into the sand and fragmented debris of various size. Much of the debris is small enough to be considered sand. Grand Anse is a tropical white-sand beach lined with coconut trees in the south of Réunion, with a rock pool built for swimmers, a pétanque playground, and a picnic area. Le Vieux Port in Saint Philippe is a green-sand beach consisting of tiny olivine crystals, formed by the 2007 lava flow, making it one of the youngest beaches on Earth. [19]


Since 2010, Réunion is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site that covers about 40% of the island's area and coincides with the central zone of the Réunion National Park. [21] The island is part of the Mascarene forests terrestrial ecoregion. [22]


Réunion is home to a variety of birds such as the white-tailed tropicbird (French : paille en queue). [23] Its largest land animal is the panther chameleon, Furcifer pardalis. Much of the west coast is ringed by coral reef which harbours, among other animals, sea urchins, conger eels, and parrot fish. Sea turtles and dolphins also inhabit the coastal waters. Humpback whales migrate north to the island from the Antarctic waters annually during the Southern Hemisphere winter (June–September) to breed and feed, and can be routinely observed from the shores of Réunion during this season. At least 19 species formerly endemic to Réunion have become extinct following human colonisation. For example, the Réunion giant tortoise became extinct after being slaughtered in vast numbers by sailors and settlers of the island.

Between 2010 and 2017, 23 shark attacks occurred in the waters of Réunion, of which nine were fatal. [24] In July 2013, the Prefect of Réunion Michel Lalande announced a ban on swimming, surfing, and bodyboarding off more than half of the coast. Lalande also said 45 bull sharks and 45 tiger sharks would be culled, in addition to the 20 already killed as part of scientific research into the illness ciguatera. [25]

Migrations of humpback whales contributed to a boom of whale watching industries on Réunion, and watching rules have been governed by the OMAR (Observatoire Marin de la Réunion) and Globice (Groupe local d'observation et d'identification des cétacés).

Gardening and Bourbon roses

The first members of the "Bourbon" group of garden roses originated on this island (then still Île Bourbon, hence the name) from a spontaneous hybridisation between Damask roses and Rosa chinensis , [26] which had been brought there by the colonists. The first Bourbon roses were discovered on the island in 1817. [27]


Manapany in 2004 Manapany.jpg
Manapany in 2004
Cilaos town, high in the Cirque (2003) Cilaos.JPG
Cilaos town, high in the Cirque (2003)
People in Reunion (2018) Inauguration par les elus d'un panneau d'information concu par les eleves de l'AIre marine educative de Saint-Leu.jpg
People in Réunion (2018)
Sri Maha Kalakambal Temple in Saint-Denis, Reunion Temple-tamoul-saint-denis.JPG
Sri Maha Kalakambal Temple in Saint-Denis, Réunion

Historical population

Official data from INSEE by census or estimate; estimates shown in italics.

Migrations and ethnic groups

At the 2015 census, 83.1% of the inhabitants of Réunion were born on the island, 11.4% were born in Metropolitan France, 0.8% were born in Mayotte, 0.3% were born in the rest of Overseas France, and 4.4% were born in foreign countries (half of them children of French expatriates and settlers born in foreign countries, such as children of Réunionese settlers born in Madagascar during colonial times; the other half immigrants, i.e. people born in foreign countries with no French citizenship at birth). [28]

In recent decades, the number of Metropolitan Frenchmen living on the island of Réunion has increased markedly: 37,487 natives of Metropolitan France lived in Réunion at the 1990 census, but their numbers more than doubled in 25 years and by the 2015 census 97,239 natives of Metropolitan France lived in Réunion. [28] Native Réunionese, meanwhile, have emigrated increasingly to Metropolitan France: the number of natives of Réunion living in Metropolitan France rose from 16,548 at the 1968 census to 92,354 at the 1990 census to 121,489 at the 2015 census, by which date nearly 15% of the natives of Réunion lived outside of Réunion. [28]

Réunion has experienced extremely little immigration of foreigners since World War Two, and by the 2015 census only 2.2% of the inhabitants of Réunion were immigrants. This is in contrast to the situation that prevailed from the middle of the 19th century until World War Two when many migrants from India, Eastern Asia, and Africa came to Réunion to work in the plantation economy. Their descendants have now become French citizens.

Place of birth of residents of Réunion
(at the 1990, 1999, 2010, and 2015 censuses)
CensusBorn in
Born in
Metropolitan France
Born in
Born in the
rest of  Overseas France
Born in foreign
countries with French
citizenship at birth¹
¹Persons born abroad of French parents, such as Pieds-Noirs and children of French expatriates.
²An immigrant is by French definition a person born in a foreign country and who didn't have French citizenship at birth. Note that an immigrant may have acquired French citizenship since moving to France, but is still listed as an immigrant in French statistics. On the other hand, persons born in France with foreign citizenship (the children of immigrants) are not listed as immigrants.
Source: INSEE [28]

Ethnic groups present include people of African, Indian, European, Malagasy and Chinese origin. Local names for these are Yabs, Cafres, Malbars and Chinois. All of the ethnic groups on the island are immigrant populations that have come to Réunion from Europe, Asia and Africa over the centuries. There are no indigenous people on the island, as it was originally deserted. [29] These populations have mixed from the earliest days of the island's colonial history (the first settlers married women from Madagascar and of Indo-Portuguese heritage), resulting in a majority population of mixed race and of "Creole" culture.

It is not known exactly how many people of each ethnicity live in Réunion, since the French census does not ask questions about ethnic origin, [30] which applies in Réunion because it is a part of France in accordance with the 1958 constitution. The extent of racial mixing on the island also makes ethnic estimates difficult. According to estimates, Whites make up roughly one quarter of the population, [31] Malbars make up more than 25% of the population and people of Chinese ancestry form roughly 3%. [32] The percentages for mixed race people and those of Afro-Malagasy origins vary widely in estimates. Also, some people of Vietnamese ancestry live on the island, though they are very few in number. [33] [34] [35]

Tamils are the largest group among the Indian community. [36] The island's community of Muslims from north western India, particularly Gujarat, and elsewhere is commonly referred to as zarabes .

Creoles (a name given to those born on the island, regardless of ethnic origins) make up the majority of the population. Groups that are not Creole include people recently arrived from Metropolitan France (known as zoreilles ) and those from Mayotte and the Comoros as well as immigrants from Madagascar and Sri Lankan Tamil refugees.


Catholic church of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges in Cilaos Cilaos kirche.jpg
Catholic church of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges in Cilaos

Religious affiliation (2000 censuses) [37]

   Roman Catholicism (81.8%)
   Hinduism (4.5%)
   Protestantism (4.2%)
   Islam (4.2%)
  Other Christian (1.8%)
  No religion (1.7%)
  Other (1.8%)

The predominant religion is Christianity, notably Roman Catholicism, with a single (Latin Rite) jurisdiction, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint-Denis-de-La Réunion. Religious Intelligence estimates Christians to be 84.9% of the population, followed by Hindus (6.7%) and Muslims (2.15%). [35] Chinese folk religion and Buddhism are also represented, among others.

Most large towns have a Hindu temple and a mosque. [38]


Réunionese culture is a blend (métissage) of European, African, Indian, Chinese and insular traditions. The most widely spoken language, Réunion Creole, derives from French.


French is the sole official language of Réunion. Though not official, Réunion Creole is widely spoken alongside French. Creole is commonly used for informal purposes, whereas the official language for administrative purposes, as well as education, is French. [39]

Other languages spoken on Réunion include: Comorian varieties (especially Shimaore) and Malagasy, by recent immigrants from Mayotte and Madagascar; Mandarin, Hakka and Cantonese by members of the Chinese community; Indian languages, mostly Tamil, Gujarati and Urdu; and Arabic, spoken by a small community of Muslims. These languages are generally spoken by immigrants, as those born on the island tend to use French and Creole.

Cantonese, Arabic and Tamil are offered as optional languages in some schools. [36]


There are two music genres which originated in Réunion: sega, which originated earlier and is also traditional in Mauritius, Rodrigues and Seychelles, and maloya, which originated in the 19th century and is only found in Réunion.


Moringue is a popular combat/dance sport similar to capoeira.

There are several famous Réunionese sportsmen and women like the handballer Jackson Richardson, as well as the karateka Lucie Ignace.

Professional footballers include Dimitri Payet, Ludovic Ajorque, Florent Sinama Pongolle and Guillaume Hoarau. Laurent Robert and ex-Hibernian and Celtic player Didier Agathe have also featured in movies. Agathe appeared in A Shot at Glory , whilst Robert was in Goal! .

Réunion has a number of contributions to worldwide professional surfing. It has been home to notable pro surfers including Jeremy Flores, Johanne Defay and Justine Mauvin. Famous break St Leu has been host to several world surfing championship competitions.

Since 1992, Réunion has hosted a number of ultramarathons under the umbrella name of the Grand Raid. As of 2018, four different races compose the Grand Raid: the Diagonale des Fous, The Trail de Bourbon, the Mascareignes, and the Zembrocal Trail. [40]



Réunion has a local public television channel, Réunion 1ère, which now forms part of France Télévision, and also receives France 2, France 3, France 4, France 5 and France 24 from metropolitan France, as well as France Ô, which shows programming from all of the overseas departments and territories. There are also two local private channels, Télé Kréol and Antenne Réunion.

It has a local public radio station, formerly Radio Réunion, but now known as Réunion 1ère, like its television counterpart. It also receives the Radio France networks France Inter, France Musique and France Culture. The first private local radio station, Radio Freedom, was introduced in 1981. They broadcast daily content about weather and local services.


Two main newspapers:




The east dock of Reunion's main seaport in Le Port (2006) LePortEst.JPG
The east dock of Réunion's main seaport in Le Port (2006)
Man sorting Bourbon vanilla (2004) Trieur de vanille - La Reunion.jpg
Man sorting Bourbon vanilla (2004)

In 2019, the GDP of Réunion at market exchange rates, not at PPP, was estimated at 19.7 billion euros (US$22.0 bn) and the GDP per capita (also at market exchange rates) was 22,970 euros (US$25,720). [2] Economic growth was around +3.0% per year in real terms from 2014 to 2017, then it fell to +1.7% in 2018 and rebounded to +2.2% in 2019. [42]

Sugar was traditionally the chief agricultural product and export. Tourism is now an important source of income. [43] The island's remote location combined with its stable political alignment with Europe makes it a key location for satellite receiving stations [44] and naval navigation. [45]

GDP sector composition in 2013 (contribution of each sector to the total gross value added): [46]

Sector % of total GVA
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 1.5%
Agriculture and forestry1.1%
Fishing 0.3%
Mining and quarrying0.0%
Manufacturing 4.4%
Food manufacturing
(of which: sugar and rum)
Petroleum and coal products manufacturing0.0%
Non-food and non-petroleum/coal manufacturing 2.6%
Market services 51.1%
Wholesale and retail trade12.1%
Transportation and warehousing3.5%
Accommodation and food services1.6%
Information and communication3.6%
Finance and insurance3.9%
Real estate activities15.2%
Professional, scientific and technical services3.2%
Administrative and support services3.5%
Other (entertainment, repair, personal and laundry services) 4.4%
Non-market services 35.9%
Public administration and defense10.9%
Education, health care, elderly care, child day-care 24.9%

Unemployment is a major problem on Réunion, although the situation has improved markedly since the beginning of the 2000s: the unemployment rate, which stood above 30% from the early 1980s to the early 2000s, declined to 24.6% in 2007, then rebounded to 30.0% in 2011 due to the 2008 global financial crisis and subsequent Great Recession, but declined again after 2011, reaching 21.5% in 2019, [47] its lowest level in 40 years. [48]

In 2014, 40% of the population lived below the poverty line (defined by INSEE as 60% of Metropolitan France's median income; in 2014 the poverty line for a family of two parents and two young children was €2,064 (US$2,743) per month). [49]

Rum distillation contributes to the island's economy. A "Product of France", it is shipped to Europe for bottling, then shipped to consumers around the world.

Brasseries de Bourbon is the main brewery of the island, with Heineken as shareholder.

Public services


In 2005–2006, Réunion experienced an epidemic of chikungunya, a viral disease similar to dengue fever brought in from East Africa, which infected almost a third of the population because of its transmission through mosquitoes. The epidemic has since been eradicated. See the History section for more details.


Roland Garros Airport serves the island, handling flights to mainland France, India, Madagascar, Mauritius, Tanzania, Comoros, Seychelles, South Africa, China and Thailand. Pierrefonds Airport, a smaller airport, has some flights to Mauritius and Madagascar. In 2019 a light rail system was proposed to link Le Barachois with the airport. [50]

See also

Related Research Articles

Saint-Denis, Réunion Prefecture and commune in Réunion, France

Saint Denis is the préfecture of the French overseas department and region of Réunion, in the Indian Ocean. It is located at the island's northernmost point, close to the mouth of the Rivière Saint-Denis.

Mascarene Islands Archipelago east of Madagascar

The Mascarene Islands or Mascarenes or Mascarenhas Archipelago is a group of islands in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar consisting of the islands belonging to the Republic of Mauritius as well as the French department of Réunion. Their name derives from the Portuguese navigator Pedro Mascarenhas, who first visited them in April 1512. The islands share a common geologic origin in the volcanism of the Réunion hotspot beneath the Mascarene Plateau and form a distinct ecoregion with a unique flora and fauna.

Piton de la Fournaise

Piton de la Fournaise is a shield volcano on the eastern side of Réunion island in the Indian Ocean. It is currently one of the most active volcanoes in the world, along with Kīlauea in the Hawaiian Islands, Stromboli and Etna in Italy and Mount Erebus in Antarctica. A previous eruption began in August 2006 and ended in January 2007. The volcano erupted again in February 2007, on 21 September 2008, on 9 December 2010, which lasted for two days, and on 1 August 2015. The most recent eruption began on 7 December 2020. The volcano is located within Réunion National Park, a World Heritage site.

Piton des Neiges

The Piton des Neiges is a massive 3,069 m (10,069 ft) shield volcano on Réunion, one of the French volcanic islands in the Mascarene Archipelago in the southwestern Indian Ocean. It is located about 800 kilometres (500 mi) east of Madagascar. Piton des Neiges is the highest point on Réunion and is considered to be the highest point in the Indian Ocean. The volcano was formed by the Réunion hotspot and emerged from the sea about two million years ago. Now deeply eroded, the volcano has been inactive for 20,000 years and is surrounded by three massive crater valleys, the Cirques. Piton des Neiges forms the northwestern two thirds of Réunion, with the very active Piton de la Fournaise comprising the rest. As its name suggests, snow is occasionally seen on its summit in winter.

Saint-Pierre, Réunion Subprefecture and commune in Réunion, France

Saint Pierre is the third-largest commune in the French overseas department and region of Réunion. Located on the southwest side of the island, it is the capital of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands. It developed from a port built from 1854 to 1882, which was used for the trade between Asia and Europe. Today, it features 400 sites for fishing and pleasure boats, while most of the commercial traffic moved north to Le Port.

Louis-Marie Aubert du Petit-Thouars

Louis-Marie Aubert du Petit-Thouars was an eminent French botanist known for his work collecting and describing orchids from the three islands of Madagascar, Mauritius and Réunion. The standard author abbreviation Thouars is used to indicate this person as the author when citing a botanical name.

Réunion Creole

Réunion Creole, or Reunionese Creole, is a French-based creole language spoken on Réunion. It is derived mainly from French and includes terms from Malagasy, Hindi, Portuguese, Gujarati and Tamil. In recent years, there has been an effort to develop a spelling dictionary and grammar rules. Partly because of the lack of an official orthography but also because schools are taught in French, Réunion Creole is rarely written. Notably, two translations of the French comic Asterix have been published.

La Possession Commune in Réunion, France

La Possession is a commune in the French overseas department of Réunion. It is located on the northwest side of the island of Réunion, between the capital of Saint-Denis and the commune of Le Port.

Hell-Bourg Human settlement

Hell-Bourg is a small village in the Salazie commune of the French overseas department of Réunion. It is the main community in the island's Cirque de Salazie, and is named for the respected former admiral and island governor Anne Chrétien Louis de Hell. Previously the village had been named Bémaho. It is located 1344 m (4412 ft) above sea level.

Saint-Philippe Commune in Réunion, France

Saint-Philippe is a commune in the French overseas department of Réunion. It is located in south-eastern Reunion.

Du battant des lames au sommet des montagnes

Du battant des lames au sommet des montagnes is a French expression that formerly served to define the geographic concessions accorded by the French East India Company to the colonists of the island of Réunion when it was still called île Bourbon. Since then, the expression has become a common phrase, indeed a "fixed formula". In its strictest meaning, it acts grammatically as an answer to the question "how?" and explains the way in which the land was cut into straight bands that stretch from the shore to the highest points without ever stretching horizontally. On the other hand, considered in its broader meaning, the expression substitutes for an adverb of place, being a synonym for "everywhere".

Terre-de-Haut Commune in Guadeloupe, France

Terre-de-Haut is a commune in the French overseas department of Guadeloupe, including Terre-de-Haut Island and a few other small uninhabited islands of the archipelago. It is the most populous island of the archipelago of the les Saintes. The Fort Napoléon is located in this commune.

Tourism in Réunion

Tourism is an important part of the economy of Réunion, an island and French overseas departement in the Indian Ocean. Despite its many tourism assets, the island's tourist attractions are not well known.

Yves Manglou

Yves Manglou is a Réunionese writer who writes in both French and Réunion Creole.

Réunion National Park French national park in Réunion

Réunion National Park is a National Park of France located on the island of Réunion, an overseas department in the western Indian Ocean. Established on 5 March 2007, the park protects the endemic ecosystems of Les Hauts, Réunion's mountainous interior, and covers around 42% of the island. Notable endemic species include the Réunion cuckooshrike and the Reunion Island day gecko.

Jean-Joseph Patu de Rosemont

Jean-Joseph Patu de Rosemont was a French painter. He is mostly known for watercolours depicting landscapes from La Réunion, where he lived from 1788. Some of his paintings show the Piton de la Fournaise, whose he was one of the first known explorators.

Overseas France Consists of all the French-administered territories outside Europe

Overseas France consists of all the French-administered territories outside Europe, mostly remains of the French colonial empire. It includes island territories in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, French Guiana on the South American continent, and several peri-Antarctic islands as well as a claim in Antarctica. Excluding the district of Adélie Land, where French sovereignty is effective de jure by French law, but where the French exclusive claim on this part of Antarctica is frozen by the Antarctic Treaty, overseas France covers a land area of 119,396 km2 (46,099 sq mi) and accounts for 18.0% of the French Republic's land territory. Its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 9,825,538 km2 (3,793,661 sq mi) accounts for 96.7% of the EEZ of the French Republic.

Cyclone Hyacinthe

Tropical Cyclone Hyacinthe was the wettest tropical cyclone on record worldwide. The eighth named storm of the season, Hyacinthe formed on January 15, 1980, to the northeast of Mauritius in the southern Indian Ocean. Initially it moved to the west-southwest, and while slowly intensifying it passed north of the French overseas department of Réunion. On January 19, Météo-France estimated that the storm had intensified to a tropical cyclone. Hyacinthe looped to the south of eastern Madagascar and weakened, although it restrengthened after turning to the east. The storm executed another loop to the southwest of Réunion, passing near the island for a second and later third time. Hyacinthe became extratropical on January 29 after turning southward, dissipating two days later.

Jean-Dominique-Philippe-Auguste Vinson was a French physician and naturalist. His father, François-Auguste Vinson (1791-1851), was a noted physician and politician.

Piton is a rock climbing tool


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General information