Reunion Island – 19 Fascinating Facts, Land, Economy, and History

Reunion Island is an outlying French region and department in the Indian Ocean. It is a unique destination with unsurpassed natural beauty and diversity. Here’s a brief overview of Reunion Island’s history, from formation through discovery to colonization.


Reunion is a volcanic island. It consists mainly of rugged mountains that torrential waters have eroded. The west-central region contains three mountain massifs with summits above 9,000 feet (2.740 meters), which includes the Piton des Neiges (height of 10.069 feet [3,069 meters]). Several large basins and smaller plateaus enclose the mountain massif. The eastern portion of the island contains an area of recent volcanism. The volcano Le Volcan is situated in the far east. Piton de la Fournaise, one of its craters, has been active on many occasions since 1925. There are no natural harbors on the coast of Reunion.

The moisture-laden south-eastern trade winds bring rain to the island from April through October. However, the east and north sides receive as little as 25 inches (63 mm) of rainfall per year. The tropics are cooler than the rest of the country, particularly at higher elevations. However, the lowlands can be hot and humid in summer. There are often tropical cyclones.


For more than 100 years, Reunion’s economy has almost been entirely dependent on sugar. Most of the land is suitable for cane production, but vanilla beans, some fruits, vegetables, tobacco, and geraniums are also grown. About a dozen large estates produce most of the cane crop with milling facilities. Reunion’s largest exports are food products. Sugar and its by-products, rum, and molasses, account for a large portion of this total. Reunion trades a lot with France. Unemployment is still a problem. There are a few roads that connect the main cities of the island. Le Port is able to handle large ships via artificial port facilities. Near Saint-Denis is an international airport.


The Reunion was uninhabited when Portuguese navigators around the 1500s first discovered it. Only when the French East India Company set up a station at the Cape of Good Hope for ships en route to India did Reunion become habitable. To work in sugar and coffee plantations, enslaved Africans were first imported. Indentured laborers from India, mainland Southeast Asia, and Eastern Africa were imported after abolishing slavery in 1848. Reunion was an independent colony of France until 1946 once it became an foreign département of France. In 1974 it was given the status of a region. The Reunion was the site of the French military headquarters in the Indian Ocean. It was established in 1973 by personnel from Madagascar. The Organization of African Unity (that is now called the African Union) insisted that Reunion be given full independence in the late 1970s. However, this proposal was rejected by most of Reunion’s residents and was therefore not pursued with much zeal.

Persistent social-economic unrest, fuelled by the growing gap between the wealthy and the poor, occasionally erupted into violence and demonstrations during the 1990s 2000s. In February 1991, 11 people were killed in riots. Proposed civil service reforms were also the subject of protests in 1997. Proposals by the French government to divide the island into two parts sparked protests in 2000. The proposal was later rejected.

19 Fascinating Facts

La Reunion, an Indian Ocean island, is also known as Reunion or Reunion. Reunion and Reunion are other names for the Indian Ocean island. The Reunion was also known as Ile Bourbon between 1810 and 1848.
One of five French overseas departments, La Reunion, is considered a territory. It is, therefore, one of the two French territories located in the Indian Ocean. The other is Mayotte.
La Reunion is the largest island in the Mascarene Islands. The Mascarenes also include Mauritius and Reunion. La Reunion can be found approximately 175 km/109 miles southwest Mauritius and 800 km/500 miles east Madagascar.
Reunion is approximately 9,180 km / 5,700 mi from Paris, France's capital. This distance is twice that of Los Angeles to New York!
Reunion is home to approximately 860,000 people. It is home to roughly the same number of people as the Comoros Islands. The population of Mauritius is larger than the one in Reunion, a smaller country.
Saint-Denis is the largest city in Reunion and home to approximately 205,000 people. It is also home to the largest inhabitants in all French overseas regions.
Air Austral is the name of the airline that operates on Reunion island. The headquarters of Reunionais is at Roland Garros Airport, nearby Saint-Denis.
In 1507, Portuguese traveler Diogo Fernandes Pereira was the first European to explore the Mascarene Islands. Before this, the Reunion was not inhabited. La Reunion has been inhabited since the 16 century. French nationals administered it from Mauritius. Reunion is officially part of France and was made an overseas sector in 1946.
Reunion is France's territory. The island is, therefore, part of the EU and the Eurozone. It is the most distant territory from the countries of the continental European Union.
Creole and French are the main languages spoken on the island. English is also widely spoken. Although French is the official language, most residents widely speak Creole at home. Reunion Creole is based upon French but includes many words from Hindi, Malagasy and Tamil languages.
Reunion, an island of volcanic origin, is located above the Earth's crust. Reunion's population consists mainly of those living along the coastal road. The island's center is very sparsely populated.
Two volcanoes are located in the middle of La Reunion. The Piton des Neiges, a dormant volcano at 3,071m/10,070ft, is the highest peak on La Reunion. French for "peak of snows."
Piton de la Fournaise is the other volcano, at 2,631m/ 8,632ft. The 'Peak of Furnace,' also known as the 'Peak of Furnace, is one of the most active volcanoes worldwide and erupts frequently. This shield volcano last erupted in April 2020. Three cauldron hollows are known as calderas and cirques. These can be accessed by hiking around the cirques or from the air.
Mafate, Salazie, and Cilaos are the names of the three cirques (or calderas) in La Reunion. Salazie is the largest cirque. Cilaos, a town located in a caldera, has a population of more than 5,000. Le Cirque de Cilaos, located at an elevation over 1,214m/ 3,982ft., is known for its thermal springs.
The panther chameleon is the Reunion's largest land animal. It was named after the chameleons' markings. The panther-chameleon isn't endemic to La Reunion but is found in Madagascar. It was introduced to the island by Madagascar.
Reunion is known as much for its beautiful beaches for the Indian Ocean sharks. You can swim in the protected lagoons and beaches, but it is not recommended to swim in open water as many shark attacks every year.
La Reunion has a tropical climate, but it is also able to withstand moderate temperatures at higher elevations. The cool, dry season runs from May to November in the southern hemisphere. In summer, the island can get heavy rains, and cyclones sometimes hit it in February and March. The eastern side of the island is generally wetter than its western counterpart.
Due to the introduction and cultivation of new plant species and agriculture, less than 40% of Reunion island is covered in native vegetation.
Samosas are a popular dish in Reunion. They are a spicy, triangular-shaped fried parcel with various spicy fillings. Many dishes use spices such as vanilla and chili peppers. Reunionais traditional food often includes fresh fruits like papayas and pineapples.