Reunion Facts | La Réunion

20 Facts about La Réunion

Here are some interesting La Réunion/ Reunion facts which were chosen and researched especially for kids.

Reunion Facts: La Réunion is a territory of France in the Indian OceanFlag of France

1. La Réunion is an island in the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean island is also referred to as Réunion or Reunion. From 1810 - 1848 Reunion was referred to as Île Bourbon. 

2. La Réunion is a territory of France as it is one of the five overseas departments of France. As such it is one of two French territories in the Indian Ocean - the other one is Mayotte. 

La Réunion landscape with volcanic peaksLa Réunion

3. La Réunion is the biggest island of the Mascarene islands. The Mascarenes include Réunion and the islands of Mauritius. La Réunion is located about 175 km/ 109 miles southwest of Mauritius and about 800 km/ 500 miles east of Madagascar. 

4. Reunion is located about 9,180 km/ 5,700 miles from Paris, the capital of France. This is as far as twice the distance from New York to Los Angeles!

5. About 860,000 people live on Réunion. This means  roughly as many people live on this island as on the islands of the independent country of the Comoros nearby. And compared to the smaller country of Mauritius, the population of Mauritius is much larger than that of Reunion.

6. The largest city of Réunion is called Saint-Denis and houses about 205,000 inhabitants. This is also the most populated city of all the French overseas departments.

Saint Denis the largest city of Reunion

7. Reunion island has its own airline which is called Air Austral. The headquarters of the Réunionais airline are located at Roland Garros airport near Saint-Denis.

8. The first European who explored the Mascarene islands is Portuguese explorer Diogo Fernandes Pereira in 1507. Prior to this Reunion was unpopulated. La Réunion is inhabited since the 16th century and was administered by the French from neighbouring Mauritius. Reunion officially belongs to France since 1642 and officially became an overseas department in 1946. 

9. As Réunion belongs to France, the island is part of the EU and the Eurozone. It is the territory most distanced from the continental European Union countries.

Market stall in La Reunion by Byvalet/shutterstock.comMarket stall in La Réunion

10. The main languages on the island are French and Créole. English is widely spoken as well. The official language is French, however, most locals speak Créole at home. The Réunion Créole is based on French and includes also many words from the Hindi, Malagasy, Portuguese, Tamil and Gujarati languages. 

Reunion Facts | Geography

11. The island of Réunion is of volcanic origin and sits above a hotspot of the earth's crust. Most people in Reunion live in the towns and villages along the circular coastal road as the centre of the island is sparsely populated.

12. La Réunion has two volcanos in the centre of the island. The highest peak of the La Réunion is the dormant volcano Piton des Neiges with 3,071 m/ 10,070 ft. The French name means 'peak of snows'.

Piton des Neiges in Reunion islandPiton des Neiges

13. The other volcano is Piton de la Fournaise with 2,631 m/ 8,632 ft. This 'Peak of Furnace' is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and erupts regularly. The last eruption of this shield volcano occurred in April 2020. There are three cauldron hollows, so-called calderas or cirques, which can be explored on hikes around the cirques and from the air.

Piton de La Fornaise as seen from the air.

14. The three cirques or calderas in La Réunion are called Mafate, Salazie and Cilaos. Salazie is the largest of the three cirques. One town situated in a caldera is Cilaos with a population of over 5,000 people. La cirque de Cilaos is located at an elevation of over 1,214 m/ 3,982 ft. and famous for its thermal springs. 

Cilaos

15. La Réunion has many waterfalls and even its own 'Niagara falls'. The Niagara falls on northern side of Reunion island are picturesque but only 25 m/ 82 ft high.

Niagara Falls on La Reunion, the tiny island in the Indian Ocean that belongs to FranceNiagara Falls on La Réunion

16. The largest land animal on Reunion is the panther chameleon. The name comes from the chameleon's markings. The panther chameleon is not endemic to La Réunion, but to Madagascar and has been introduced to the island from there.

Panther chameleon, the largest land animal in ReunionSleeping panther chameleon

17. Réunion is as known for its scenic beaches as much as for the sharks that inhabit the Indian ocean waters. Swimming in the lagoon and protected beaches is fine, but swimming in the open water is otherwise taboo as deadly shark attacks happen here every year. Make sure your beach is protected by a safety net like the beach at Saint Gilles you see below.

White sandy beach in Saint Gilles on La ReunionBeach in Saint Gilles

18. La Réunion predominantly has a tropical climate but moderate temperatures at the higher elevations. The cool and dry season lasts from May to November, which is winter in the southern hemisphere. Rainfalls can be heavy in summer and the island is occasionally hit by cyclones during February and March. The east coast in general is wetter than the western side of the island.

Reunion Facts | Economy and Food

19. Less than 40% of Reunion island have native vegetation due to the introduction of foreign plant species and agriculture.

The main agricultural products are sugarcane, vanilla, coconuts, tuna and other fish. Sugarcane is also used in Reunion to make rum. Raw sugar is the main export product from La Réunion.

Sugar cane

20. Typical dishes in Reunion include samosas, which are spicy triangular fried parcels with a range of savoury and spicy fillings. Spices such as chilli peppers and vanilla are often used in dishes. Traditional Réunionais food includes fresh fruits such as pineapples, papayas and guavas as well as vegetables such as chouchou or potatoes and not to forget, fish or chicken.

Cari is the Creole name and version of the Indian curry. The typical Creole curry uses plenty of spices such as saffron, thyme, curcuma (turmeric), ginger, onions and garlic.

If you would like to cook a typical Creole dish, try this Chicken curry recipe here.

Réunion Facts: Resources

Sources for Réunion Facts page:

  • Vanilla Islands - Indian Ocean. "La Reunion - France in Indian Ocean." The Vanilla Islands. Accessed 16 July 2020.
  • WorldWildlifeFund. "Islands of Réunion and Mauritius." WWF. Accessed 16 July 2020. 
  • Reunion Tourism. "Gastronomy réunionaise." La Réunion. Accessed 16 July 2020 
  • Lila. "Chicken Cari (Curry) Recipe." LaRéunion23 August 2018. Accessed 16 July 2020

Image Credits on Reunion Facts: photo stock from shutterstock and wikicommons, if not otherwise stated.

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