Réunion (French: La Réunion) is an island and overseas DOM) of France, located in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar, about 200 km southwest of Mauritius. Like the other DOMs, Réunion is also one of the 26 regions of France with much the same status as those situated on the European mainland. As part of France, Réunion is part of the European Union, and thus the currency used is the euro.
Main article: Politics of Réunion
Administratively, Réunion is divided into 4 arrondissements, 24 communes, and 47 cantons. It is a French overseas department as well as a French region. The low number of communes, compared to French metropolitan department of similar size and population, is an originality; most Réunionnese communes encompass several localities, sometimes separated by significant distances. Réunion is part of the Indian Ocean Commission.
Main article: Geography of Réunion
View from satelliteThe island is 39 miles (63 kilometers) long, is 28 miles (45 kilometers) wide, and covers 970 square miles (2512 square kilometres). The island is similar to the big island of Hawaii because both are located above hotspots in the Earth's crust.
Piton de la Fournaise, a shield volcano on the eastern end of Réunion Island, rises more than 8565 feet (2611 meters) above sea level and is sometimes called a sister to Hawaiian volcanoes because of the similarity of climate and volcanic nature, has erupted more than 100 times since 1640 and is under constant monitoring. It most recently erupted on December 26, 2005. La Fournaise is created by a hot spot volcano, which also created the Piton des Neiges and the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues.
Piton des Neiges volcano, the highest point on the island at 10069 feet (3070 meters) above sea level, is northwest of Piton de la Fournaise volcano. Collapsed calderas and canyons are southwest of the mountain. Like Mauna Kea on the big island of Hawaii, Piton des Neiges is extinct. Despite its name, snow 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.
Réunion also has three calderas: the Cirque de Salazie, the Cirque de Cilaos and the Cirque de Mafate. The latter is accessible only by foot or helicopter.
Main article: Economy of Réunion
Sugar is the chief agricultural product and export, and tourism is also an important source of income.
The territory traditionally had a large gap in income and standard of living between the wealthier communities of European and Indian descent, and the poorer African and other communities. This gap is closing with time. Metropolitan France provides substantial financial support to Réunion.
Some fishermen of Réunion also derive a certain amount of revenue from shark fishing.
Main article: Demographics of Réunion
Reunion has the same population of Malabars or Tamil, Indians (Hindu and Muslim), Vietnamese, African, Malagasy, Chinese and French as Mauritius but in different proportions. White French make up approximately one-quarter of the population.
Reunionese culture is a blend of European, African, Tamil, Chinese and insular traditions.
The most widely spoken language, Réunion Creole, derives from French, with many idiosyncracies. Though still rare, Réunion Creole is now taught in some schools, however, an official orthography has yet to be agreed upon.
Food and music blend influences from Africa, India, China and Europe.