Piton des Neiges at sunrise, Réunionhttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:R%C3%A9union_PitonDesNeiges_Sunrise.jpg
is a small island in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Madagascar. Covering 2,512 sq km (969.9 sq mi), Réunion is one of the overseas départements of France, and is regarded as a part of the French Republic. It has a population of 830,000 (2011 estimate). Its capital and biggest town is Saint-Denis. The island is located 200 km (120 mi) to the southwest of Mauritius, its nearest neighbor.
Cap Méchant in Saint-Philippe, Réunionhttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cap-M%C3%A9chant-R%C3%A9union.JPG
Réunion is four hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC-4). Being part of France, it uses the euro as its official currency. It is also regarded as part of the European Union - the most distant. Réunion is 63 km (39 mi) long and 44 km (28 mi) wide. Its highest peak is an active volcano, Piton des Neiges, which is 3,070 m (10,070 ft) in height. While Piton des Neiges is an extinct volcano, 2,631-meter (8,632-ft) Piton de la Fournaise is very active, having erupted over a hundred times since 1640, the most recent in 2010.
The economy of Réunion is based on agriculture, although tourism has become an increasingly important source of revenue. In 2008, it had an estimated nominal GDP of $14.7 billion, equivalent to per capita nominal GDP of $17,700, among the highest in Africa.
Saint-Denis Town Hall, Réunion
Réunion was historically called Dina Morgabin by ancient Swahili and Arab seafarers. The Portuguese may have been the first Europeans to have sighted it. They had called it Santa Apollonia. Réunion was claimed by France in 1638. In 1649, the French renamed it Île Bourbon, and it became a French colony in 1665.
Île Bourbon was renamed to Réunion in 1793, following the overthrow of the House of Bourbon in the French Revolution a year earlier. The name commemorates the reunion of the revolutionaries from Marseille with the National Guard in Paris. In 1801, it was renamed Île Bonaparte.
In 1810, the British invaded Île Bonaparte, which they called Bourbon. In 1815, the island was returned to France as Bourbon - at that time the House of Bourbon was restored. When the House of Bourbon was overthrown again in 1848, the island was once again renamed Réunion. Réunion became an overseas département of France on 19 March, 1946.
Forêt des Hauts-sous-le-Vent, Réunion
Planning your visit to Réunion
Although Réunion is part of France, it is not within the Schengen Area. So it has its own immigration and visa requirements. You will have to check with the French embassy if you are planning a trip there.
The Roland Garros International Airport (RUN) is the main gateway to Réunion. Located near Saint-Denis, it receives flights from Paris, Mauritius, Sydney and Bangkok, among others.
Major Towns in Réunion
Places of Interest in Réunion
Members of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France
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