La Réunion

The coast by St. Leu, island of RéunionThe 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 tourism.
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.

My mother-in-law's mango treePhotographs 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.

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