Flag of Reunion

The Portuguese discovered the uninhabited island in 1513. From the 17th to the 19th centuries, French immigration, supplemented by influxes of Africans, Chinese, Malays, and Malabar Indians, gave the island its ethnic mix. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 cost the island its importance as a stopover on the East Indies trade route.
Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar
Geographic coordinates:

21 06 S, 55 36 E
total: 2,517 sq km
land: 2,507 sq km
water: 10 sq km
Land boundaries:
0 km
207 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
tropical, but temperature moderates with elevation; cool and dry (May to November), hot and rainy (November to April)
mostly rugged and mountainous; fertile lowlands along coast
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Piton des Neiges 3,069 m
Natural resources:
fish, arable land, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 13.94%
permanent crops: 1.59%
other: 84.47% (2005)
Irrigated land:
120 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:
periodic, devastating cyclones (December to April); Piton de la Fournaise on the southeastern coast is an active volcano
Geography - note:
this mountainous, volcanic island has an active volcano, Piton de la Fournaise; there is a tropical cyclone center at Saint-Denis, which is the monitoring station for the whole of the Indian Ocean
787,584 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 29.8% (male 120,147/female 114,589)
15-64 years: 64% (male 248,895/female 255,156)
65 years and over: 6.2% (male 19,847/female 28,950) (2006 est.)
Median age:
total: 26.9 years
male: 25.7 years
female: 28.1 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.34% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
18.9 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
5.49 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 7.63 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 8.37 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.85 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 74.18 years
male: 70.78 years
female: 77.75 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.45 children born/woman (2006 est.)
noun: Reunionese (singular and plural)
adjective: Reunionese
Ethnic groups:
French, African, Malagasy, Chinese, Pakistani, Indian
Roman Catholic 86%, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist (1995)
French (official), Creole widely used
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 88.9%
male: 87%
female: 90.8% (2003 est.)
Country name:
conventional long form: Department of Reunion
conventional short form: Reunion
local long form: none
local short form: Ile de la Reunion
former: Bourbon Island
Dependency status:
overseas department of France
Administrative divisions:
none (overseas department of France); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 4 arrondissements, 24 communes, and 47 cantons
none (overseas department of France)
National holiday:
Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
4 October 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system:
French law
18 years of age; universal
Legislative branch:
unicameral General Council (49 seats; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve six-year terms) and a unicameral Regional Council (45 seats; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve six-year terms)
elections: General Council - last held 15 and 22 March 1998 (next to be held NA); Regional Council - last held 28 March 2004 (next to be held in 2010)
election results: General Council - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - various right-wing candidates 13, PCR 10, PS 10, UDF 8, RPR 6, other left-wing candidates 2; Regional Council (second round) - percent of vote by party - PCR 44.9%, UMP 32.8%, PS-Greens 22.3%; seats by party - PCR 27, UMP 11, PS-Greens 7
note: Reunion elects three representatives to the French Senate; elections last held in 2001 (next to be held in 2006); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PRC 1, UDF 1, UMP 1; Reunion also elects five deputies to the French National Assembly; elections last held 9 June-16 June 2002 (next to be held in 2007); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 3, PS 1, independent 1
Judicial branch:
Court of Appeals or Cour d'Appel
Economy - overview:
The economy has traditionally been based on agriculture, but services now dominate. Sugarcane has been the primary crop for more than a century, and in some years it accounts for 85% of exports. The government has been pushing the development of a tourist industry to relieve high unemployment, which amounts to one-third of the labor force. The gap in Reunion between the well-off and the poor is extraordinary and accounts for the persistent social tensions. The white and Indian communities are substantially better off than other segments of the population, often approaching European standards, whereas minority groups suffer the poverty and unemployment typical of the poorer nations of the African continent. The outbreak of severe rioting in February 1991 illustrated the seriousness of socioeconomic tensions. The economic well-being of Reunion depends heavily on continued financial assistance from France.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$4.811 billion (2005 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
2.5% (2005 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$6,200 (2005 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 8%
industry: 19%
services: 73% (2000 est.)
Labor force:
309,900 (2000)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 13%
industry: 12%
services: 75% (2000)
Unemployment rate:
36% (1999 est.)
revenues: $1.26 billion
expenditures: $2.62 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (1998)
Agriculture - products:
sugarcane, vanilla, tobacco, tropical fruits, vegetables, corn
sugar, rum, cigarettes, handicraft items, flower oil extraction
Electricity - production:
1.19 billion kWh (2003)
Electricity - consumption: 1.107 billion kWh (2003)
Oil - consumption:
18,500 bbl/day (2003 est.)
$214 million f.o.b. (1997)
Exports - commodities:
sugar 63%, rum and molasses 4%, perfume essences 2%, lobster 3%
Exports - partners:
France 74%, Japan 6%, Comoros 4% (2004)
$2.5 billion c.i.f. (1997)
Imports - commodities:
manufactured goods, food, beverages, tobacco, machinery and transportation equipment, raw materials, and petroleum products
Imports - partners:
France 64%, Bahrain 3%, Germany 3%, Italy 3% (2004)
Economic aid - recipient:
$NA; note - substantial annual subsidies from France (2001 est.)
Currency (code):
euro (EUR)
Exchange rates:
euros per US dollar - 0.8041 (2005), 0.8054 (2004), 0.886 (2003), 1.0626 (2002), 1.1175 (2001)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Telephones - main lines in use:
300,000 (2001)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
579,200 (2004)
Telephone system:
general assessment: adequate system; principal center is Saint-Denis
domestic: modern open-wire and microwave radio relay network
international: country code - 262; radiotelephone communication to Comoros, France, Madagascar; new microwave route to Mauritius; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean); fiber optic submarine cable (SAT-3/WASC/SAFE) provides connectivity to Europe and Asia
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 2, FM 55, shortwave 0 (2001)
Television broadcast stations:
35 (plus 18 low-power repeaters) (2001)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
29 (2005)
Internet users:
200,000 (2005)
2 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2005)
total: 1,214 km (including 88 km of four-lane roads) (2001)
Ports and terminals:
Le Port
Military branches:
no regular indigenous military forces; French forces (includes Army, Navy, Air Force, and Gendarmerie) (2005)
Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of France