Country List | World Factbook Home
CIA Seal  World Factbook Seal Reunion
Flag of Reunion
Map of Reunion
Introduction Reunion
The Portuguese discovered the uninhabited island in 1513. From the 17th to the 19th centuries, French immigration supplemented by influxes of Africans, Chinese, Malays, and Malabar Indians gave the island its ethnic mix. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 cost the island its importance as a stopover on the East Indies trade route.
Geography Reunion
Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar
Geographic coordinates:
21 06 S, 55 36 E
Map references:
total: 2,517 sq km
water: 10 sq km
land: 2,507 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Rhode Island
Land boundaries:
0 km
207 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
tropical, but temperature moderates with elevation; cool and dry from May to November, hot and rainy from November to April
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, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 13.2%
permanent crops: 2%
other: 84.8% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
120 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
periodic, devastating cyclones (December to April); Piton de la Fournaise on the southeastern coast is an active volcano
Environment - current issues:
Geography - note:
this mountainous, volcanic island has an active volcano, Piton de la Fournaise; there is a tropical cyclone center at Saint-Denis, which is the monitoring station for the whole of the Indian Ocean
People Reunion
743,981 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 31.7% (male 120,864; female 115,251)
15-64 years: 62.5% (male 228,864; female 235,991)
65 years and over: 5.8% (male 17,459; female 25,552) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.52% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
20.7 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
5.51 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.68 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
8.31 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.18 years
female: 76.74 years (2002 est.)
male: 69.78 years
Total fertility rate:
2.55 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Reunionese (singular and plural)
adjective: Reunionese
Ethnic groups:
French, African, Malagasy, Chinese, Pakistani, Indian
Roman Catholic 86%, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist (1995)
French (official), Creole widely used
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79%
male: 76%
female: 80% (1982 est.)
Government Reunion
Country name:
conventional long form: Department of Reunion
conventional short form: Reunion
local short form: Ile de la Reunion
local long form: none
former: Bourbon Island
Dependency status:
overseas department of France
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
none (overseas department of France); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 4 arrondissements, 24 communes, and 47 cantons
none (overseas department of France)
National holiday:
Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
28 September 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system:
French law
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Jacques CHIRAC of France (since 17 May 1995), represented by Prefect Gonthier FRIEDERICI (since NA)
elections: French president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; prefect appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of the Interior; the presidents of the General and Regional Councils are elected by the members of those councils
head of government: President of the General Council Jean-Luc POUDROUX (since NA March 1998) and President of the Regional Council Paul VERGES (since NA March 1993)
cabinet: NA
Legislative branch:
unicameral General Council (49 seats; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve six-year terms) and a unicameral Regional Council (45 seats; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve six-year terms)
elections: General Council - last held 15 and 22 March 1998 (next to be held NA 2004); Regional Council - last held 15 March 1998 (next to be held NA 2004)
election results: General Council - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - various right-wing candidates 13, PCR 10, PS 10, UDF 8, RPR 6, other left-wing candidates 2; Regional Council - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PCR 19, UDF 9, RPR 8, various right-wing candidates 4, various left-wing candidates 5
note: Reunion elects three representatives to the French Senate; elections last held NA 2001 (next to be held NA 2006); results - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA; Reunion also elects five deputies to the French National Assembly; elections last held 9 June-16 June 2002 (next to be held NA 2007); results - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - UMP-RPR 1, UMP 1, PCR 1
Judicial branch:
Court of Appeals or Cour d'Appel
Political parties and leaders:
Communist Party of Reunion or PCR [Paul VERGES]; Rally for the Republic or RPR [Andre Maurice PIHOUEE]; Socialist Party or PS [Jean-Claude FRUTEAU]; Union for French Democracy or UDF [Gilbert GERARD]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (overseas department of France)
Diplomatic representation from the US:
none (overseas department of France)
Flag description:
the flag of France is used
Economy Reunion
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.
purchasing power parity - $3.4 billion (1998 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
3.8% (1998 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $4,800 (1998 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Labor force:
261,000 (1995) (1995)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 8%, industry 19%, services 73% (1990) (1990)
Unemployment rate:
42.8% (1998) (1998)
revenues: NA
expenditures: NA, including capital expenditures of $NA
sugar, rum, cigarettes, handicraft items, flower oil extraction
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
1.09 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 55%
hydro: 45%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
1.014 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
sugarcane, vanilla, tobacco, tropical fruits, vegetables, corn
$214 million f.o.b. (1997)
Exports - commodities:
sugar 63%, rum and molasses 4%, perfume essences 2%, lobster 3%, (1993)
Exports - partners:
France 74%, Japan 6%, Comoros 4% (1994)
$2.5 billion c.i.f. (1997)
Imports - commodities:
manufactured goods, food, beverages, tobacco, machinery and transportation equipment, raw materials, and petroleum products
Imports - partners:
France 64%, Bahrain 3%, Germany 3%, Italy 3% (1994)
Debt - external:
Economic aid - recipient:
$NA; note - substantial annual subsidies from France
euro (EUR); French franc (FRF)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
euros per US dollar - 1.1324 (January 2002), 1.1175 (2001), 1.0854 (2000), 0.9386 (1999); French francs per US dollar - 5.8995 (1998), 5.8367 (1997)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Reunion
Telephones - main lines in use:
268,500 (1999)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
197,000 (September 2000)
Telephone system:
general assessment: adequate system; principal center is Saint-Denis
domestic: modern open wire and microwave radio relay network
international: radiotelephone communication to Comoros, France, Madagascar; new microwave route to Mauritius; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 2, FM 55, shortwave 0 (2001)
173,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
35 (plus 18 low-power repeaters) (2001)
127,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2000)
Internet users:
10,000 (2000)
Transportation Reunion
0 km
total: 2,724 km
paved: 1,300 km (including 73 km of four-lane road)
note: 370 km of road are maintained by national authorities, 754 km by departmental authorities and 1,600 km by local authorities (1994)
unpaved: 1,424 km
Ports and harbors:
Le Port, Pointe des Galets
Merchant marine:
total: 1 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 28,264 GRT/44,885 DWT
note: includes a foreign-owned ship registered here as a flag of convenience: France 1 (2002 est.)
ships by type: chemical tanker 1
2 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2002)
Military Reunion
Military branches:
no regular indigenous military forces; French forces (including Army, Navy, Air Force, and Gendarmerie)
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 194,485 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 99,251 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 6,243 (2002 est.)
Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of France
Transnational Issues Reunion
Disputes - international:

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003