Réunion (French: La Réunion, [la ʁe.y.njɔ̃] (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]


La Réunion  (French)
Overseas department and region
Capital of Saint-Denis
Coat of arms
Florebo quocumque ferar
(I will flourish wherever I am brought)
Coordinates: 21°06′52″S 55°31′57″E
Country France
  President of Regional CouncilDidier Robert (LR)
  Total2,511 km2 (970 sq mi)
Area rank15th region
 (January 2021)[1]
  Density340/km2 (890/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+04:00 (RET)
ISO 3166 code
  • RE
  • FR-RE
GDP (nominal) (2019)[2]Ranked 13th
Total€19.7 billion (US$22.0 bn)
Per capita€22,970 (US$25,720)
Regional Council
Departmental Council

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 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.


When France took possession of the island in the seventeenth century, it was named Bourbon, after the dynasty that was then ruling the island. To break with this name, which was too attached to the Ancien Régime, the National Convention decided on March 23, 1793,[4] to rename the territory Reunion Island. This choice could have been made in homage to the meeting of the federates of Marseilles and the Parisian National Guards that preceded the insurrection of August 10, 1792 and the march on the Tuileries Palace, but no document justifies it and the meaning of the word "meeting" could have been purely symbolic.[5] The island changed its name to Reunion Island on March 23, 1791.

The island changed its name again in the 19th century: in 1806, under the First Empire, General Decaen named it Île Bonaparte, and in 1810 it became Île Bourbon again. It became Reunion Island once and for all after the fall of the July monarchy by a decree of the provisional government of March 7, 1848.[6]

In accordance with the original spelling and the classical spelling and typographical rules,[7] "la Réunion" was written with a lower case in the article, but during the end of the 20th century, the spelling "La Réunion" with a capital letter was developed in many writings to emphasize the integration of the article in the name. This last spelling corresponds to the recommendations of the Commission nationale de toponymy[8] and appears in the current Constitution of the French Republic in articles 72-3 and 73.


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 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.[9] Arab traders were familiar with it by the name Dina Morgabin, "Western Island".[10] The island is possibly featured on a map from 1153 AD by Al Sharif el-Edrisi. 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.[9]

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.[11] Réunion itself was dubbed Santa Apolónia after a favourite saint,[10] 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.

By the early 1600s, nominal Portuguese rule had left Santa Apolónia virtually untouched.[11] 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,[12] 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.[11]

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".[11]

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.

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.

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.[13] 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.[14]

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.[15] The neighbouring islands of Mauritius and Madagascar also suffered epidemics of this disease during the same year.[16][17] 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.


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.


Reunion is a department and an overseas region, governed by Article 73 of the Constitution of France, under which the laws and regulations are applicable as of right, as in metropolitan France.[18]

Thus, Réunion has a regional council and a departmental council. These territorial entities have the same general powers as the departments and regions of metropolitan France, albeit with some adaptations. Article 73 of the Constitution provides for the possibility of replacing the region and the department by a single territorial entity, but, unlike French Guiana or Martinique, there are currently no plans to do so.

Unlike the other DROMs, the Constitution explicitly excludes Réunion from the possibility of receiving authorization from Parliament to set certain rules itself, either by law or by the national executive.[18]

The State is represented in Réunion by a prefect. The territory is divided into four districts (Saint-Benoît, Saint-Denis, Saint-Paul, Saint-Pierre).

Réunion has 24 municipalities organized into 5 agglomeration communities.

From the point of view of the European Union, Reunion is an outermost region.


The positioning of Reunion Island has given it a more or less important strategic role depending on the period.

Already at the time of the India Route, Réunion Island was a French position located between Cape Town and the Indian trading posts, although far from the Mozambique Channel. The island of Bourbon (its name under the Ancien Régime) was not, however, the preferred position for trade and military.

In fact, Governor Labourdonnais claimed that Ile de France (Mauritius) was a land of opportunity, thanks to its topography and the presence of two natural harbors. He considered that Bourbon was destined to be a depot or an emergency base for Ile de France.[19]

The opening of the Suez Canal diverted much of the maritime traffic from the southern Indian Ocean and reduced the strategic importance of the island. This decline is confirmed by the importance given to Madagascar, which was later colonized.[20]

Since the 2000s, a geopolitical subgroup tends to emerge under the name of the Southwest Indian Ocean.

Today, the island, the seat of a defense and security zone, hosts the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Southern Indian Ocean Zone (FAZSOI), which brings together French Army units stationed in La Réunion and Mayotte.

Reunion Island allows France to be a member of the Indian Ocean Commission.

Reunion Island is also a base that hosts the Frenchelon infrastructure and the mobile listening and automatic search unit.

Finally, Saint-Pierre is the headquarters of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (Taaf).

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.[21] 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)

Name Area (km2) Population Coat of Arms Arrondissement Map
Bras-Panon 88.55 12,768 Saint-Benoît
Cilaos 84.4 5,492 Saint-Pierre
Entre-Deux 66.83 6,914 Saint-Pierre
L'Étang-Salé 38.65 14,108 Saint-Pierre
La Plaine-des-Palmistes 83.19 6,568 Saint-Benoît
La Possession 118.35 32,633 Saint-Paul
Le Port 16.62 33,531 Saint-Paul
Le Tampon 165.43 79,385 Saint-Pierre
Les Avirons 26.27 11,246 Saint-Pierre
Les Trois-Bassins 42.58 7,076 Saint-Paul
Petite-Île 33.93 12,308 Saint-Pierre
Saint-André 53.07 56,747 Saint-Benoît
Saint-Benoît 229.61 37,274 Saint-Benoît
Saint-Denis 142.79 150,535 Saint-Denis
Saint-Joseph 178.5 37,517 Saint-Pierre
Saint-Leu 118.37 34,196 Saint-Paul
Saint-Louis 98.9 53,589 Saint-Pierre
Saint-Paul 241.28 103,492 Saint-Paul
Saint-Philippe 153.94 5,149 Saint-Pierre
Saint-Pierre 95.99 84,961 Saint-Pierre
Sainte-Marie 87.21 33,234 Saint-Denis
Sainte-Rose 177.6 6,296 Saint-Benoît
Sainte-Suzanne 58.84 23,718 Saint-Denis
Salazie 103.82 7,224 Saint-Benoît

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.


Piton des Neiges
3 071 m
Piton de la Fournaise
2 632 m
Rivière des Pluies
Rivière du Mât
Rivière des Galets
Rivière des Marsouins
Rivière de l'Est
Rivière des Remparts
Rivière Saint-Étienne
La Plaine-des-Palmistes
Le Port
La Possession
Les Trois-Bassins
Les Avirons
Le Tampon

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.[22] During another eruption in April 2007, the lava flow was estimated at 3,000,000 m3 (3,900,000 cu yd) per day.[23] 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.

Geology and Relief

Reunion Island is a volcanic island born some three million years ago[24] with the emergence of the Piton des Neiges volcano which is today, with an altitude of 3,070.50 m, the highest peak in the Mascarene Islands and the Indian Ocean. The eastern part of the island is constituted by the Piton de la Fournaise, a much more recent volcano (500,000 years old) which is considered one of the most active on the planet. The emerged part of the island represents only a small percentage (about 3%) of the underwater mountain that forms it.

In addition to volcanism, the relief of the island is very uneven due to active erosion. The center shelters three vast cirques dug by erosion (Salazie, Mafate and Cilaos) and the slopes of the island are furrowed by numerous rivers digging gullies, estimated at least 600,[25] generally deep and whose torrents cut the sides of the mountains up to several hundreds of meters deep.

The ancient massif of the Piton des Neiges is separated from the massif of La Fournaise by a gap formed by the plaine des Palmistes and the plaine des Cafres, a passageway between the East and the South of the island. Apart from the plains, the coastal areas are generally the flattest regions, especially in the north and west of the island. The coastline of the wild south is however steeper.

Between the coastal fringe and the Hauts, there is a steep transitional zone whose gradient varies considerably before arriving at the ridge lines setting the cirques or the Enclos, the caldera of the Piton de la Fournaise.


The island of Reunion is characterized by a humid tropical climate, tempered by the oceanic influence of the trade winds blowing from east to west. The climate of Reunion is characterized by its great variability, mainly due to the imposing relief of the island, which is at the origin of numerous microclimates.

As a result, there are strong disparities in rainfall between the windward coast in the east and the leeward coast in the west, and in temperature between the warmer coastal areas and the relatively cooler highland areas.

In Réunion there are two distinct seasons, defined by the rainfall regime:

  • a rainy season from January to March, during which most of the year's rain falls;
  • a dry season from May to November. However, in the eastern part and in the foothills of the volcano, rainfall can be significant even in the dry season;

April and December are transition months, sometimes very rainy but also very dry.

Pointe des Trois Bassins, located on the coast of the commune of Trois-Bassins (West), is the driest season, with a normal annual precipitation of 447.7 mm, while Le Baril, in Saint-Philippe (Southeast), is the wettest coastal season, with a normal annual precipitation of 4,256.2 mm.[26]

However, the wettest station is in the highlands of Sainte-Rose, with an average annual rainfall of almost 11,000 mm, making it one of the wettest places in the world.

Temperatures in Reunion are characterized by their great mildness throughout the year. In fact, the thermal amplitude from one season to another is relatively small (rarely exceeding 10°C), although it is perceptible:

  • In the warm season (November to April): average minimums usually range between 21 and 24°C, and average maximums between 28 and 31°C, on the coast. At 1,000 m, average minimums fluctuate between 10 and 14 °C and average maximums between 21 and 24 °C;
  • In the cold season (May to October): temperatures at sea level vary from 17 to 20 °C for average minimums and from 26 to 28 °C for average maximums. At 1,000 m, average minimums range from 8 to 10 °C and average maximums from 17 to 21 °C18.

In mountain towns, such as Cilaos or La Plaine-des-Palmistes, average temperatures range between 12 °C and 22 °C. The highest parts of the habitat and the natural areas at altitude may suffer some winter frosts. Snow was even observed on the Piton des Neiges and Piton de la Fournaise in 2003 and 2006.[27]

While a growing number of islands (including "non-sovereign" islands) in the world are concerned about the effects of climate change, the island of Reunion was chosen (along with Gran Canaria in Spain) as an example for a case study of an affected ultra-European peripheral territory,23 for a study on the adequacy of urban and regional planning tools to the needs and characteristics of these islands (including land use and population density and the regulatory framework).

This work confirmed that urban and peri-urban land use pressures are high, and that adaptation strategies are incompletely integrated into land use planning. According to the Institute of Island Studies, there is a dysfunction: "island planning tools often do not take climate change adaptation into account and there is too much top-down management in the decision-making process".[28] Réunion holds the world records for the most rainfall in 12-, 24-, 72- and 96-hour periods.[29]


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.[30] 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.[31]


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.[33] The island is part of the Mascarene forests terrestrial ecoregion.[34]


Réunion is home to a variety of birds such as the white-tailed tropicbird (French: paille en queue).[35] 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.[36] 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.[37]

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).


The tropical and insular flora of Reunion Island is characterized by its diversity, a very high rate of endemism and a very specific structure. The flora of Reunion presents a great diversity of natural environments and species (up to 40 tree species/ha, compared to a temperate forest which has an average of 5/ha). This diversity is even more remarkable, but fragile, as it differs according to the environment (coastal, low, medium and high mountain).

Reunion has a very high rate of endemic species, with more than 850 native plants (of natural origin and present before the arrival of man), of which 232 are endemic to the island of Reunion (only present on the island), as well as numerous species endemic to the Mascarene archipelago. Finally, the flora of Reunion is distinguished from that of equatorial tropical forests by the low height and density of the canopy, probably due to adaptation to cyclones, and by a very specific vegetation, in particular a strong presence of epiphytic plants (growing on other plants), such as orchids, bromeliads and cacti, but also ferns, lichens and mosses.[38]

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,[39] which had been brought there by the colonists. The first Bourbon roses were discovered on the island in 1817.[40]


Manapany in 2004
Cilaos town, high in the Cirque (2003)
People in Réunion (2018)
Sri Maha Kalakambal Temple in Saint-Denis, Réunion

Historical population

YearPopulation YearPopulation YearPopulation
167190 1830101,300 1961349,282
1696269 1848110,300 1967416,525
1704734 1849120,900 1974476,675
17131,171 1860200,000 1982515,814
17172,000 1870212,000 1990597,823
172412,550 1887163,881 1999706,300
176425,000 1897173,192 2008808,250
177735,100 1926182,637 2013835,103
178961,300 1946241,708 2018855,961
182687,100 1954274,370 2020858,450
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).[41]

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.[41] 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.[41]

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[41]

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.[42] 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,[43] 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,[44] Malbars make up more than 25% of the population and people of Chinese ancestry form roughly 3%.[45] 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.[46][47][48]

Tamils are the largest group among the Indian community.[49] 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

Religious affiliation (2000 censuses)[50]

  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%).[48] Chinese folk religion and Buddhism are also represented, among others.

Most large towns have a Hindu temple and a mosque.[51]


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.[52]

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.[49]


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.[53]



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:

  • Journal de l'île de La Réunion
  • Le Quotidien (Réunionese newspaper)


  • Adama (animated there)
  • Mississippi Mermaid (1969) (filmed there)



The east dock of Réunion's main seaport in Le Port (2006)
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.[55]

Sugar was traditionally the chief agricultural product and export. Tourism is now an important source of income.[56] The island's remote location combined with its stable political alignment with Europe makes it a key location for satellite receiving stations[57] and naval navigation.[58]

GDP sector composition in 2013 (contribution of each sector to the total gross value added):[59]

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,[60] its lowest level in 40 years.[61]

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).[62]

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.[63]


Reunion Island has its own education system. Chantal Manès-Bonnisseau, Inspector General of Education, Sport and Research, was appointed Rector of the Académie de la Réunion and Chancellor of Universities at the Council of Ministers on July 29, 2020.

She succeeds Vêlayoudom Marimoutou, who took office as secretary general of the Indian Ocean Commission on July 16.

The Rectorate is located in the main city, in the Moufia district of Saint-Denis. At the start of the 2012 school year, the island had 522 pre-school and/or primary schools, including 26 private schools, for 120,230 students at the primary level, 82 secondary schools, including six private schools, for 61,300 students, 32 general and technological high schools, including three private schools, for 23,650 students, and 15 vocational schools, including two private schools, for 16,200 students.

Reunion's priority education zones affect slightly more than half of the primary and secondary school students.[64]

Baccalaureate results are relatively close to the national average with a rate of 81.4% in 2012 compared to 82.4% in 2011 (respectively: 84.5% and 85.6% in the national average).

In higher education, the University of Reunion has 11,600 students spread across the various sites, especially in Saint-Denis and Le Tampon. A further 5,800 students are divided between the post-baccalaureate courses of secondary education and other higher studies.[65]

See also

  • Administrative divisions of France
  • Anchaing
  • Du battant des lames au sommet des montagnes
  • List of colonial and departmental heads of Réunion
  • List of islands
  • List of islands administered by France in the Indian and Pacific oceans
  • List of Réunionnais
  • Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
  • Scouting and Guiding in Réunion


  1. INSEE. "Estimation de population par région, sexe et grande classe d'âge – Années 1975 à 2021" (in French). Retrieved 22 March 2021.
  2. "Gross domestic product (GDP) at current market prices by NUTS 2 regions". Eurostat. Retrieved 22 March 2021.
  3. Réunion is pictured on all Euro banknotes, on the back at the bottom of each note, right of the Greek ΕΥΡΩ (EURO) next to the denomination.
  4. Jean Baptiste Duvergier, Collection complète des lois [...], éd. A. Guyot et Scribe, Paris, 1834, « Décret du 23 mars 1793 », p. 205
  5. Daniel Vaxellaire, Le Grand Livre de l'histoire de La Réunion, vol. 1 : Des origines à 1848, éd. Orphie, 2000, 701 p. (ISBN 978-2-87763-101-3 et 978-2877631013), p. 228 (avec fac-similé du décret).
  6. Nouveau recueil général de traités, conventions et autres transactions remarquables – Année 1848, éd. Librairie de Dieterich, 1854, « Arrêté du gouvernement provisoire portant changement du nom de l'île Bourbon, Paris, 7 mars », p. 76
  7. Lexique des règles typographiques en usage à l’Imprimerie nationale, Imprimerie nationale, 1990 (ISBN 978-2-11-081075-5) ; réédition 2002 (ISBN 978-2-7433-0482-9) ; réimpressions octobre 2007 et novembre 2008 (ISBN 978-2-7433-0482-9), p. 90 et 93.
  8. "Commission nationale de toponymie – Collectivités territoriales françaises".
  9. Allen, Richard B. (14 October 1999). Slaves, Freedmen and Indentured Laborers in Colonial Mauritius. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521641258.
  10. Tabuteau, Jacques (1987). Histoire de la justice dans les Mascareignes (in French). Paris: Océan éditions. p. 13. ISBN 2-907064-00-2. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  11. Moriarty, Cpt. H.A. (1891). Islands in the southern Indian Ocean westward of Longitude 80 degrees east, including Madagascar. London: Great Britain Hydrographic Office. p. 269. OCLC 416495775.
  12. "| Journal de l'île de la Réunion". Clicanoo.re. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  13. Jean-Jacques Martial (2003). Une enfance volée. Les Quatre Chemins. p. 113. ISBN 978-2-84784-110-7. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  14. Géraldine Marcon: CHRONOLOGIE : L'histoire des enfants réunionnais déplacés en métropole on francebleu.fr.
  15. "Island disease hits 50,000 people". BBC News. 2 February 2006. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  16. Beesoon, Sanjay; Funkhouser, Ellen; Kotea, Navaratnam; Spielman, Andrew; Robich, Rebecca M. (2008). "Chikungunya Fever, Mauritius, 2006". Emerging Infectious Diseases. 14 (2): 337–338. doi:10.3201/eid1402.071024. PMC 2630048. PMID 18258136.
  17. "Madagascar hit by mosquito virus". BBC News. 6 March 2006. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  18. "Collectivités d'Outre-mer de l'article 73 de la Constitution (Guadeloupe, Guyane, Martinique, La Réunion, Mayotte)". www.legifrance.gouv.fr. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  19. Guy Dupont, , Condé-sur-Noireau, L'Harmattan, juin 1990, 759 p. (ISBN 2-7384-0715-3) p. 27
  20. Raoul LUCAS et Mario SERVIABLE, , C.R.I p. 26
  21. "Insee – Code Officiel Géographique". Insee.fr. Retrieved 6 May 2009.
  22. Le Piton du Confinement on clicanoo.com
  23. Thomas Staudacher (7 April 2007). "Reunion sees 'colossal' volcano eruption, but population safe". AFP. Archived from the original on 9 April 2007. Retrieved 18 August 2007. (Web archive)
  24. Emmanuel Tessier, , Saint Denis, Thèse de doctorat sous la direction de Pascale Chabanet et Catherine Aliaume, 2005, 254 p
  25. Guy Dupont, , Condé-sur-Noireau, L'Harmattan, juin 1990, 759 p. (ISBN 2-7384-0715-3) p. 100.
  26. "CLIMAT LA REUNION - Informations, normales et statistiques sur le climat à La Réunion". www.meteofrance.re. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  27. "Exceptionnel : Il a neigé au volcan". Imaz Press Réunion : l'actualité de la Réunion en photos (in French). 10 October 2006. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  28. "European island outermost regions and climate change adaptation: a new role for regional planning" (PDF).
  29. "World Meteorological Organization: Global Weather & Climate Extremes". Arizona State University.
  30. "Lagon de l'Hermitage". Snorkeling Report. Retrieved 24 July 2020.
  31. Ocean, Indian. "The beaches of Réunion Island". Snorkeling Report. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  32. "Lunch at Plage de Boucan Canot". Flickr. 23 October 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  33. "Pitons, cirques and remparts of Reunion Island". UNESCO. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  34. Dinerstein, Eric; et al. (2017). "An Ecoregion-Based Approach to Protecting Half the Terrestrial Realm". BioScience. 67 (6): 534–545. doi:10.1093/biosci/bix014. ISSN 0006-3568. PMC 5451287. PMID 28608869.
  35. (in French) L'Île de la Réunion.com: Le paille en queue
  36. Gilibert, Laurence (1 March 2018). "Crise requin: Les causes scientifiques sous les projecteurs de la revue "Nature"" via ZINFO974.
  37. "Big Read: Reunion Island beset by shark controversy". News Corp Australia. 30 August 2013.
  38. "Flore de La Réunion". Habiter La Réunion (in French). Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  39. ADUMITRESEI, LIDIA; STĂNESCU, IRINA (2009). "Theoretical Considerations upon the origin and nomenclature of the present rose cultivars". Journal of Plant Development. 16.
  40. "History of Roses: Bourbon Roses" (PDF). American Rose Society.
  41. INSEE. "Données harmonisées des recensements de la population 1968–2015" (in French). Retrieved 22 March 2021.
  42. Bollée, Annegret (2015). "French on the Island of Bourbon (Réunion)". Journal of Language Contact. 8 (1): 91. doi:10.1163/19552629-00801005.
  43. Oppenheimer, David B. (20 August 2008). "SSRN-Why France Needs to Collect Data on Racial Identity – In a French Way by David Oppenheimer". Papers.ssrn.com. SSRN 1236362. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  44. Holm, John A. (1989). Pidgins and Creoles: References survey. Cambridge University Press. p. 394. ISBN 0-521-35940-6.
  45. "Réunion" (PDF). The Indian Diaspora. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 August 2010.
  46. Clicanoo. "La Réunion Métisse".
  47. Tarnus, Evelyne; Bourdon, Emmanuel (2006). "Anthropometric evaluations of body composition of undergraduate students at the University of La Réunion". Advances in Physiology Education. 30 (4): 248–253. doi:10.1152/advan.00069.2005. PMID 17108254.
  48. "Country Profile: Reunion (Department of Reunion)". Archived from the original on 13 October 2007. Retrieved 13 October 2007.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  49. "NRI" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 August 2010. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
  50. https://www.britannica.com/place/Reunion
  51. Peoples of Africa: Réunion-Somalia. Marshall Cavendish. 2001. pp. 412–. ISBN 978-0-7614-7166-0.
  52. "Ethnologue report (language code:rcf)". Ethnologue.com. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
  53. "The Grand Raid: 25 years of madness!". La Réunion. 12 October 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
  54. "Réunion Island (@visitreunion) • Instagram photos and videos". www.instagram.com. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  55. CEROM. "Comptes économiques rapides de La Réunion en 2019" (PDF). Retrieved 22 March 2021.
  56. "Insel La Réunion Reisen & Urlaub buchen | Reiseveranstalter Elefant Tours". Elefant Tours.
  57. "SEAS-OI, VIGISAT international success Réunion Island acquires an acquisition and processing system for high-resolution satellite images". Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  58. "Surveillance of maritime and terrestrial activities by radar". Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  59. "Comptes économiques définitifs de La Réunion" (in French). INSEE. 2017. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  60. "Moins de chômage, plus d'inactivité". INSEE. Retrieved 22 March 2021.
  61. Célimène, Fred; Legris, André (2011). De l'économie coloniale à l'économie mondialisée – Aspects multiples de la transition (XXe et XXIe siècles). Paris: Publibook. p. 179. ISBN 978-2-7483-7225-0.
  62. "Quatre Réunionnais sur dix vivent sous le seuil de pauvreté" (in French). INSEE. 2017. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  63. "Consultation begins on Réunion tram project". International Railway Journal. 27 August 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  64. "Éducation prioritaire".
  65. "Site de l'Université de la Réunion 2020/2021".



General information

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.