World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide

Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

List of Countries

Reunion Travelling Guide
Reunion Travelling Guide

General background: The Portuguese discovered the uninhabited island in 1513. From the 17th to the 19th centuries, French immigration supplemented by influxes of Africans, Chinese, Malays, and Malabar Indians gave the island its ethnic mix. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 cost the island its importance as a stopover on the East Indies trade route.

Area comparative: Slightly smaller than Rhode Island

Climate: Tropical, but temperature moderates with elevation; cool and dry from May to November, hot and rainy from November to April.

Terrain: Mostly rugged and mountainous; fertile lowlands along coast.

Population: 743,981 (July 2002 est.)

Ethnic groups: French, African, Malagasy, Chinese, Pakistani, Indian

Religions: Roman Catholic 86%, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist (1995)

Language: French (official), Creole widely used

Government type: NA

Capital: Saint-Denis

Legal system: French law

Economic overview: The economy has traditionally been based on agriculture. Sugarcane has been the primary crop for more than a century, and in some years it accounts for 85% of exports. The government has been pushing the development of a tourist industry to relieve high unemployment, which amounts to more than 40% of the labour force. The gap in Reunion between the well-off and the poor is extraordinary and accounts for the persistent social tensions. The white and Indian communities are substantially better off than other segments of the population, often approaching European standards, whereas minority groups suffer the poverty and unemployment typical of the poorer nations of the African continent. The outbreak of severe rioting in February 1991 illustrates the seriousness of socio-economic tensions. The economic well-being of Reunion depends heavily on continued financial assistance from France.

Communication/Telephone system: Adequate system; principal center is Saint-Denis.

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