Record ID: 90

Site Name

Reunion

Type

Islands

Description

Fr. overseas department, (area: c.970 sq miles; 1990 pop. 602,315), one of the Mascarene Islands, in the Indian Ocean, c.430 miles E of Madagascar, at the S end of the Seychelles Ocean Ridge; (cap.) Saint-Denis and Le Port (the leading port) are the chief cities. Of primarily volcanic origin, the isl. is composed of several extinct volcanoes and Piton de la Fournaise (8,632 ft.) in the SE, which is still active. R�union was known to the Arabs and was visited by the Portuguese in the early 16th cent. The isl. was uninhabited until settled by the French c.1642; its present mixed population is descended from the French and their East Afr., Indian, and Indochinese slaves (and, after 1848 when slavery was abolished, indentured laborers). At first a penal colony, R�union became a post of the Fr. East India Company in 1665. In the 18th cent. the isl. was an exporter of coffee and a producer of cloves and manioc. It was held by Great Britain from 1810 to 1814. In 1848 the name of the isl. was changed from Bourbon to Reunion, and in 1947 the status of R�union was changed from that of a colony to an overseas department. In the 1980s, the citizens of R�union sought greater autonomy and better wages and working conditions.