|Logo Link:||Logo of Réunion|
|National Anthem:||La Marseillaise (official)|
|Gdp Per Capita:||18,200|
|Gdp Cap Year:||2008|
Réunion (French: '''La Réunion''', ; previously Île Bourbon) is a French island with a population of about 800,000 located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, about 200km south west of Mauritius, the nearest island.
Administratively, Réunion is one of the overseas departments of France. Like the other overseas departments, Réunion is also one of the 27 regions of France (being an overseas region) and an integral part of the Republic with the same status as those situated on the European mainland.
Before the arrival of the Portuguese in the early sixteenth century, there is little to Réunion's recorded history. Arab traders were familiar with it by the name Dina Morgabin,. The island possibly features on a map from 1153 AD by Al Sharif el-Edrisi. The island may also have been visited by Swahili or Malay sailors.
The first European discovery of the area was made around 1507 by Portuguese explorers, but the specifics are unclear. The uninhabited island may have been first sighted by the expedition led by Don Pedro Mascarenhas, who gave his name to the island group around Réunion, the Mascarenes. Réunion itself was dubbed Santa Apolonia after a favorite saint., which suggests that the date of the Portuguese discovery may have been February 9th, her saint day. Diego Lopes de Sequeira is claimed to have landed on the island in 1509.
Over a century later, nominal Portuguese rule had left Santa Apolonia virtually untouched. 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, 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 royal house. Colonization started in 1665, when the French East India Company sent the first 20 settlers.
“Réunion” was the name given to the island in 1793 by a decree of the Convention with the fall of the House of Bourbon in France, and the 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 Napoleon Bonaparte. The island was invaded by a Royal Navy squadron led by Commodore Josias Rowley in 1810, who used the old name of “Bourbon”. When it was restored to France by the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the island retained the name of "Bourbon" until the fall of the restored Bourbons during the French Revolution of 1848, when the island was once again given the name “Réunion”.
From the 17th to the 19th centuries, French immigration supplemented by influxes of Africans, Chinese, Malays, and Indians gave the island its ethnic mix. Starting from 1690, most of the immigrants from outside Europe were enslaved until 20 December 1848 when slavery was abolished. Afterwards, a lot of them were 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.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.
Between 15 and 16 March 1952, Cilaos at the centre of Réunion received 1869.9mm of rainfall. This is the greatest 24-hour precipitation total ever recorded on earth. The island also holds the record for most rainfall in 72 hours, 3929mm at Commerson's Crater in March 2007 from Cyclone Gamede.
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. Madagascar had also been hit by this disease during the same year. A few cases also appeared in mainland France through airline travel. Then French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin sent an emergency aid package worth 36 million Euro ($57.6M U.S. dollars) and deployed approximately five hundred French troops in an effort to eradicate mosquitoes.
See main article: Arrondissements of the Réunion department, Cantons of the Réunion department and Communes of the Réunion department. Administratively, Réunion is divided into 4 arrondissements, 49 cantons, and 24 communes. It is a French overseas département as well as a French region. The low number of communes, compared to French metropolitan departments of similar size and population, is unique; most Réunionnaises communes encompass several localities, sometimes separated by significant distances. Réunion is part of the Indian Ocean Commission.
See main article: Geography of Réunion.
The Piton de la Fournaise, a shield volcano on the eastern end of Réunion Island, rises more than 2631m (8,632feet) 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. It most recently erupted on 2 January 2010. Before that, the most noticeable was during April 2007, when the lava flow was estimated at 3000000m2 per day. The Piton de la Fournaise is created by a hotspot volcano, which also created the Piton des Neiges and the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues.
The Piton des Neiges volcano, the highest point on the island at 3070m (10,070feet) above sea level, is north west of the Piton de la Fournaise. Collapsed calderas and canyons are south west of the mountain. Like Kohala on the Big Island of Hawaii, the Piton des Neiges is extinct. Despite its name, snow (French: neige) practically never falls on the summit.
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 in characterised by a coral reef system.
See main article: Economy of Réunion. Sugar was traditionally the chief agricultural product and export. Tourism is now an important source of income. In 2007, the GDP of Réunion was 18.7 billion US dollars at market exchange rates. The GDP per capita was 23,501 US dollars in 2007 (at market exchange rates, not at PPP), the highest in Africa.
See main article: Demographics of Réunion.
Ethnic groups present include people of European, African, Malagasy, Indian and Chinese origin as well as many of mixed race. Local names for these are used: Yabs, Cafres, Malbars and Zarabes (both ethnic groups of Indian origin) and Chinois (Réunion).
It is not known exactly how many people there are of each ethnicity since there is a ban on ethnic censuses in France, which applies in Réunion because it is a part of the 1958 constitution. According to estimates, Europeans make up approximately one-quarter of the population, Indians make up roughly a quarter, and people of Chinese ancestry form roughly 3%. The percentages for mixed race people and those of Afro-Malagasy origins vary widely in estimates. There are also some people of Vietnamese ancestry on the island, though they are very few in number.  
People of Tamil and Gujarati origin make up the majority of the Réunionnais of Indian origin; Bihari and other origins form the remainder of the population. The island's community of Muslims from North Western India, particularly Gujarat, and elsewhere is commonly referred to as Zarab.
Creoles (a name given to those born on the island, of various ethnic origins), make up the majority of the population. Groups that are not creole include people from Metropolitan France (known as zoreils) and those from Mayotte and the Comoros.
|Official data from INSEE by census or estimate; estimates shown in italics.|
See main article: Religion in Réunion.
Due to the diverse population, other languages such as Mandarin, Hakka and Cantonese are also spoken by members of the Chinese community, but fewer people speak these languages as younger generations start to converse in French. The number of speakers of Indian languages (mostly Urdu and Gujarati) is also dropping sharply. Arabic is taught in mosques and spoken by a small community of Muslims.
Local food and music blend influences from Africa, India, China and Europe, resulting in a unique, diverse culture.
See also: Réunion National Park.
See main article: Wildlife of Réunion.
See also: List of extinct animals of Réunion.
Réunion is home to a variety of birds such as the White-tailed Tropicbird (. Its largest land animal is the Panther chameleon, Furcifer pardalis. Much of the West coast is ringed by coral reef which harbours, amongst other animals, sea urchins, conger eels and parrot fish. Sea turtles also visit the coastal waters.
See main article: Transport in Réunion.
Le Quotidien http://www.lequotidien.re
Antenne Réunion http://www.antennereunion.fr
Réunion 1ière http://reunion.la1ere.fr/