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Reunion Island

Reunion Island

Status

Overseas French region and department located in the Indian Ocean, 800 kilometers east of Madagascar and 175 kilometers southwest of Mauritius, it is an outermost region of the European Union. The population of Réunion was estimated at 872, 000 inhabitants in March 2017. The density of 338 inhabitants/km² is the highest of all French Overseas territories.

History

Previously named “Ile Bourbon” in 1649 after the French Royal House of Bourbon, Reunion Island was an important stopover on the East Indies trade route until the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 that modified navigation routes bridging the West to the East. From the 17th to the 19th centuries, French, Malagasy, East African, Chinese from Guangdong province and Indian from Gujarat and Tamil Nadu provinces settled on the island contributing to ethnic diversity in the population.

Geography

63 kilometers long and 45 kilometers wide, Reunion island covers a surface of 2,512 square kilometers. Often compared to Hawaii for its volcanic geology, Reunion Island stands above a hotspot in the Earth's crust. The Piton de la Fournaise, among the most active volcanoes on Earth, is located on the eastern end of the island and rises at more than 2,631 meters above sea level. The hotspot giving birth to the Piton de la Fournaise is also the one that created the great Piton des Neiges – the other extinct volcano of the island – as well as the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues.

Thanks to its geographical position, micro-climates and fertile ground, rich in volcanic sediments, Reunion’s soil provides the perfect conditions for exceptional fresh produce. Since 2010, 40% of the island's surface is listed as UNESCO World Heritage.

Cyclone / Typhoon season runs from December to April.

Fauna & Flora

Réunion is home to a variety of birds such as the white-tailed tropicbird (in French, the “paille en queue”). The vegetation of Reunion Island includes many endemic species and varies according to altitude and climate: from rainforest to dry savannah, sugar cane or fruit tree plantations. While forests are home to extraordinary tree ferns and botanical curiosities, the island is also populated of multi-colored birds.

Cuisine

The Reunionese cuisine reflects its people: colorful, spicy and friendly. It takes its roots in the culinary traditions of different ethnic groups that settled in Reunion Island: from the French to the Chinese, through the Malagasy, the Mauritian, the West and South Indian, and the East African. In the culinary tradition of Reunion, the "Aperitif" or Finger-Food Buffet holds an important place. One may enjoy fine Samosas, "Bouchons" - a derivative of Dim Sums brought by the Chinese, or "Bonbons piments" (Candy Peppers) to whet the appetite.

The typical dish of the Reunionese cuisine is the "Cari" - usually cooked with fish, pork or poultry - served with rice, beans, "brèdes" (edible leaves), "achards" (pickles), or tomato "rougail" (tomato chutney). Spices such as ginger, saffron or turmeric are also core ingredients. Sweets are enjoyed in the afternoon rather than in dessert. Fried or in cakes, Reunionese pastries are consumed at tea time. To end meals, delicious native fruits such as the Queen Victoria pineapple, Kwai-mi lychees or the Jose mangoes are never to be missed on Reunionese tables.