October 2, 2014
1263 FRANCE (Réunion) - The map of the Réunion Island
Located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, about 200km southwest of Mauritius, Réunion island is one of the overseas departments of France. Similar to the Island of Hawaiʻi, as both are located above hotspots in the Earth's crust, it is 63km long and 45 km wide, and has a tropical climate. The terrain is mostly rugged and mountainous, with fertile lowlands along the coast. The Piton de la Fournaise, a shield volcano on the eastern end of the island, has erupted more than 100 times since 1640, most recently in 2010. The Piton des Neiges extinct volcano, the highest point on the island at 3,070m above sea level, is north west of the Piton de la Fournaise. Collapsed calderas and canyons are south west of the mountain. The slopes of both volcanoes are heavily forested. Offshore, part of the west coast is characterised by a coral reef system.
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 Dom Pedro Mascarenhas, who gave his name to the island group around Réunion, the Mascarenes. Over a century later, the island was occupied by France, which named it in 1649 Île Bourbon. Réunion was the name given to the island in 1793, with the fall of the House of Bourbon. In 1801, the island was renamed Île Bonaparte, in 1810 again Île Bourbon, in 1848 again Réunion. From the 17th to the 19th centuries, French immigration supplemented by influxes of Africans, Chinese, and Indians gave the island its ethnic mix. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 reduced the importance of the island as a stopover on the East Indies trade route.
Réunion is home to a variety of birds such as the White-tailed Tropicbird. Its largest land animal is the Panther chameleon, Furcifer pardalis. At least 19 species formerly endemic to Réunion have become extinct following human colonization. Réunion's natural resources are fish, arable land and hydropower. Sugar was traditionally the chief agricultural product and export, but tourism is now an important source of income. Unfortunately the unemployment is a major problem in Réunion, the rate stood at 30% in 2014. According to Le Monde, 42% of the population was living below poverty line in 2010. Ethnic groups present include people of African, Indian, European, Malagasy and Chinese origin. Local names for these are: Yabs, Cafres, Malbars and Zarabes (both ethnic groups of Indian origin) and Chinois (Réunion). As a result, Réunionese culture is a blend of European, African, Indian, Chinese and insular traditions.
Réunion - Wikipedia
Reunion, the Severe Island - The official website of France
Sent from Saint Denise (Réunion), on 14.08.2014