|About Reunion Island|
|The Réunion island is a small tropical French island located in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar and south west of Mauritius covering a land area of 2512 km². It is an integral part of the Republic of France and is one of the twenty six overseas department of France. Just like France, the currency used in Reunion island is the Euro.
Historically, Reunion Island was discovered by the Portuguese in 1513. In 1643 it was claimed by the French and named it Bourbon. The island was renamed Reunion in 1793, and it remained a French colony, except for a brief British occupation from 1810 to 1815. The first colony was established in 1662 and in the following years slaves from Africa were brought to work in sugar plantations.
Reunion has a population of about 753,812 inhabitants with approximately twenty percent being of Indian ancestry (mostly Tamil), and around five percent born in mainland France. Although French is the official language, Creole is the native language and commomnly used in the everyday life.
The island's economy is mainly based on sugarcane industry, and its main exports include sugar, seafood, rum, and vanilla. Tourism, especially from Europe, is a significant part of the economy with around 420,000 tourists visit the island every year.
Reunion Island is a volcanic island similar to the island Hawaii. Le Piton des Neiges is an extinct volcano with the highest point on the island at 3070 metres (10,069 feet) above sea level and it is the volcano that created the island. The island has the most active volcano in the world, Piton de La Fournaise ("The Furnace") which rises more than 2631 metres (8632 feet) 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's most recent eruption was on April 4, 2007. The islands experience a tropical climate, generally warm and humid, averaging 29ºC (84ºF) throughout the year. The best time to go to Reunion is May-November, when the trade winds keep the island temperatures moderate. The worst time to visit is December-February, when the temperatures are about 10 degrees F/5 C higher and it rains a lot. Cyclones are not vefry common but can hit any time between November-April.
Arab sailors formerly called the island Adna Al Maghribain (“Western Island”). The Portuguese were the first Europeans to visit, finding it uninhabited in 1513, and naming it Santa Apollonia, after Saint Apollonia. The island was then occupied by France and administered from Port Louis, Mauritius. Although the French flag was hoisted by François Cauche in 1638, Santa Apollonia 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
|Location:||Southern Africa in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar and south west of Mauritius|
|Area:||2,510 sq km (969 sq miles)|
|Climate:||Tropical, but temperature moderates with elevation; cool and dry from May to November, hot and rainy from November to April|
|Population:||287,032 (July 2009 est.)|
|Terrain:||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, Sugar cane, hydropower|
|Judicial System:||The laws of France, where applicable, apply. Court of Appeal or Cour d'Appel; Court of the First Instance or Tribunal de Premiere Instance; Court of Administrative Law or Tribunal Administratif|
|Land use:||arable land: 17%
permanent crops: 2%
permanent pastures: 5%
forests and woodland: 35%
other: 41% (1993 est.)
|Natural hazards:||Periodic, devastating cyclones (December to April); Piton de la Fournaise on the southeastern coast is an active volcano|
|Ethnic groups:||French, African, Malagasy, Chinese, Pakistani, Indian, Tamil|
|Religions:||Roman Catholic 86%, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist (1995)|
|Languages:||French (official), Creole widely used|
|Literacy:||definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.8%
female: 92.3% (2002 census)
|Legal system:||French law|
|Judicial branch:||Court of Appeals or Cour d'Appel|
|Driving||People in Reunion drive on the right-hand side of the road and give way to the left.|
|Economy - overview:||The economy has traditionally been based on agriculture. 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 more than 40% 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 illustrates the seriousness of socioeconomic tensions. The economic well-being of Reunion depends heavily on continued financial assistance from France.|
|GDP by sector:||Purchasing power parity - $3.4 billion (1998 est.)|
|Industries:||Sugar, rum, cigarettes, handicraft items, flower oil extraction|
|Electricity:||220 volts and 60 cycles with French style two-pin sockets so adapters are normally required for U.S. 110 volt appliances.|
|Credit Cards:||Credit cards are normally accepted by banks and most hotels, restaurants and tourist shops|
|Sales Tax:||Same as France, 19.6%|
|Emergency||Police : 17 (toll-free number), Fire-brigade : 18 (toll-free number), Emergency Ambulance Service : 15 (toll-free number), Casualties (accident and emergency department) (also via GSM) : 112 (toll-free number), Sea rescue : 0262 43 43 43, Moutain rescue : 0262 930 930|