Status: Overseas Department
Prefect: Pierre-Henry Maccioni (2006)
Land area: 968 sq mi (2,507 sq km); total area: 972 sq mi (2,517 sq km)
Population (2006 est.): 787,584 (growth rate: 1.3%); birth rate: 18.9/1000; infant mortality rate: 7.6/1000; life expectancy: 74.2; density per sq mi: 816
Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Saint-Denis, 142,600
Other large cities: Saint-Paul, 95,100; Saint-Pierre, 74,700; Le Tampon, 65,400
Monetary unit: Franc
Languages: French (official), Creole
Ethnicity/race: French, African, Malagasy, Chinese, Pakistani, Indian
Religions: Roman Catholic 86%, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist (1995)
Literacy rate: 89% (2003 est.)
Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2005 est.): $4.811 billion; per capita $6,200. Real growth rate: 2.5%. Inflation: n.a. Unemployment: 36% (1999 est.). Arable land: 14%. Agriculture: sugarcane, vanilla, tobacco, tropical fruits, vegetables, corn. Labor force: 309,900 (2000); agriculture 13%, industry 12%, services 75% (2000). Industries: sugar, rum, cigarettes, handicraft items, flower oil extraction. Natural resources: fish, arable land, hydropower. Exports: $214 million (f.o.b., 1997): sugar 63%, rum and molasses 4%, perfume essences 2%, lobster 3%, (1993). Imports: $2.5 billion (c.i.f., 1997): manufactured goods, food, beverages, tobacco, machinery and transportation equipment, raw materials, and petroleum products. Major trading partners: France, Japan, Comoros, Bahrain, Germany, Italy (2004).
Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 300,000 est. (2001); mobile cellular: 489,800 (2002). Radio broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 55, shortwave 0 (2001). Television broadcast stations: 35 (plus 18 low-power repeaters) (2001). Internet hosts: n.a. Internet users: 150,000 (2002).
Transportation: Railways: 0 km. Highways: total: 1,214 km (including 88 km of four-lane roads) (2001). Ports and harbors: Le Port. Airports: 2 (2004 est.).
International disputes: none.
Of volcanic origin, Réunion consists mostly of rugged mountains and short torrential rivers. It is located about 450 mi (724 km) east of Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean. First explored by Portuguese navigators in the 16th century, the island of Réunion, then uninhabited, was taken as a French possession in 1642. African slaves were imported first to work coffee and then sugar plantations; with the abolition of slavery in 1848, indentured laborers from Indochina, India, and East Africa were brought in. In 1947, Réunion became an overseas department of France.
See also Encyclopedia: Reunion.