The island of Réunion lies in the Indian
ocean, about five hundred miles east of Madagascar.
Geographically it was formed from two volcanos (of which one is still
active) that erupted some three million years ago. It is about 60 miles long and 40 miles
across, and rises to a central peak of 10,000 feet (nearly two miles) so everywhere on the
island seems to be on a slope (some steeper than others). Most of the population live on
the coast and lower slopes ("les Hauts"). There are some beaches on the western
side, formed by coral lagoons (see picture). The interior is spectacularly mountainous.
Racially there is a mixture of people originating from Europe, Africa,
Madagascar, India and China. They are happy to be thought of simply as
"créoles", and there is no appreciable racial prejudice. The local patois, also
called Créole, is widely spoken but most islanders also speak French. (People from
mainland France are still called "z'oreilles" because they didn't seem to be
able to hear properly what the islanders were saying.)
Economically there is still a moderate amount of sugar production (from
cane) and a little vanilla production, but most of the island's income derives from
Politically it is part of France, so you will be able to spend your euros
there shortly. Don't expect many people to understand English, though.
Photographs of la Réunion
Réunion Scrapbook Part One - some snapshots I took in
1998 during our Easter holiday, with a rural flavour. (79kb download)
Réunion Scrapbook Part Two - more snapshots, this time
of urban life. (91kb download)
Réunion web-sites elsewhere (in English)
Let's discover Réunion
island - general guide.
Réunion - île
intense - official tourism site.