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By Out Links > Visit Detail > Country Facts for Reunion
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Map of Reunion
IntroductionTop
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.
GeographyTop
Location:Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar
Geographic coordinates:21 06 S, 55 36 E
Map references:World
Area:total: 2,517 sq km
land: 2,507 sq km
water: 10 sq km

Area - comparative:slightly smaller than Rhode Island
Land boundaries:0 km
Coastline:207 km
Maritime claims:territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

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
Elevation extremes:lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Piton des Neiges 3,069 m

Natural resources:fish, arable land, hydropower
Land use:arable land: 13.6%
permanent crops: 1.2%
other: 85.2% (2001)

Irrigated land:120 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:periodic, devastating cyclones (December to April); Piton de la Fournaise on the southeastern coast is an active volcano
Environment - current issues:NA
Geography - note:this mountainous, volcanic island has an active volcano, Piton de la Fournaise; there is a tropical cyclone center at Saint-Denis, which is the monitoring station for the whole of the Indian Ocean
PeopleTop
Population:776,948 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 30.4% (male 120,698/female 115,108)
15-64 years: 63.6% (male 243,668/female 250,143)
65 years and over: 6.1% (male 19,234/female 28,097) (2005 est.)

Median age:total: 26.72 years
male: 25.53 years
female: 27.92 years (2005 est.)

Population growth rate:1.38% (2005 est.)
Birth rate:19.26 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate:5.48 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate:0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.68 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2005 est.)

Infant mortality rate:total: 7.78 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 8.52 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.99 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:total population: 73.95 years
male: 70.55 years
female: 77.52 years (2005 est.)

Total fertility rate:2.47 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:NA%
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths:NA
Nationality:noun: Reunionese (singular and plural)
adjective: Reunionese

Ethnic groups:French, African, Malagasy, Chinese, Pakistani, Indian
Religions:Roman Catholic 86%, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist (1995)
Languages:French (official), Creole widely used
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 88.9%
male: 87%
female: 90.8% (2003 est.)

GovernmentTop
Country name:conventional long form: Department of Reunion
conventional short form: Reunion
local long form: none
local short form: Ile de la Reunion
former: Bourbon Island

Government type:NA
Capital:Saint-Denis
Administrative divisions:none (overseas department of France); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 4 arrondissements, 24 communes, and 47 cantons
Independence:none (overseas department of France)
National holiday:Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
Constitution:28 September 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system:French law
Suffrage:18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:chief of state: President Jacques CHIRAC of France (since 17 May 1995), represented by Prefect Laurent CAYREL (since 16 July 2005)
head of government: President of the General Council Jean-Luc POUDROUX (since NA March 1998) and President of the Regional Council Paul VERGES (since NA March 1993)
cabinet: NA
elections: French president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; prefect appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of the Interior; the presidents of the General and Regional Councils are elected by the members of those councils

Legislative branch:unicameral General Council (49 seats; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve six-year terms) and a unicameral Regional Council (45 seats; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve six-year terms)
elections: General Council - last held 15 and 22 March 1998 (next to be held NA); Regional Council - last held 28 March 2004 (next to be held NA 2010)
election results: General Council - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - various right-wing candidates 13, PCR 10, PS 10, UDF 8, RPR 6, other left-wing candidates 2; Regional Council (second round) - percent of vote by party - PCR 44.9%, UMP 32.8%, PS-Greens 22.3%; seats by party - PCR 27, UMP 11, PS-Greens 7
note: Reunion elects three representatives to the French Senate; elections last held NA 2001 (next to be held NA 2006); results - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA; Reunion also elects five deputies to the French National Assembly; elections last held 9 June-16 June 2002 (next to be held NA 2007); results - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - UMP-RPR 1, UMP 1, PCR 1

Judicial branch:Court of Appeals or Cour d'Appel
Political parties and leaders:Communist Party of Reunion or PCR [Paul VERGES]; Rally for the Republic or RPR [Andre Maurice PIHOUEE]; Socialist Party or PS [Jean-Claude FRUTEAU]; Union for French Democracy or UDF [Gilbert GERARD]; Union for a Popular Movement or UMP [leader NA]
Political pressure groups and leaders:NA
International organization participation:InOC, UPU, WFTU
Flag description:the flag of France is used
EconomyTop
Economy - overview:The economy has traditionally been based on agriculture, but services now dominate. 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 one-third of the labor 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 socioeconomic tensions. The economic well-being of Reunion depends heavily on continued financial assistance from France.
GDP:purchasing power parity - $4.57 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:2.5% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:purchasing power parity - $6,000 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:agriculture: 8%
industry: 19%
services: 73% (2000 est.)

Labor force:309,900 (2000)
Labor force - by occupation:agriculture 13%, industry 12%, services 75% (2000)
Unemployment rate:36% (1999 est.)
Population below poverty line:NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share:lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices):NA%
Budget:revenues: $1.26 billion
expenditures: $2.62 billion, including capital expenditures of NA (1998)

Agriculture - products:sugarcane, vanilla, tobacco, tropical fruits, vegetables, corn
Industries:sugar, rum, cigarettes, handicraft items, flower oil extraction
Industrial production growth rate:NA%
Electricity - production:1.166 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - production by source:fossil fuel: 55.5%
hydro: 44.5%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - consumption:1.084 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - exports:0 kWh (2002)
Electricity - imports:0 kWh (2002)
Oil - production:0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:18,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:NA
Oil - imports:NA
Exports:$214 million f.o.b. (1997)
Exports - commodities:sugar 63%, rum and molasses 4%, perfume essences 2%, lobster 3%, (1993)
Exports - partners:France 74%, Japan 6%, Comoros 4% (2000)
Imports:$2.5 billion c.i.f. (1997)
Imports - commodities:manufactured goods, food, beverages, tobacco, machinery and transportation equipment, raw materials, and petroleum products
Imports - partners:France 64%, Bahrain 3%, Germany 3%, Italy 3% (2000)
Debt - external:$NA
Currency (code):euro (EUR)
Currency code:EUR
Exchange rates:euros per US dollar - 0.8054 (2004), 0.886 (2003), 1.0626 (2002), 1.1175 (2001), 1.0854 (2000)
Fiscal year:calendar year
CommunicationsTop
Telephones - main lines in use:300,000 est (2001)
Telephones - mobile cellular:489,800 (2002)
Telephone system:general assessment: adequate system; principal center is Saint-Denis
domestic: modern open-wire and microwave radio relay network
international: country code - 262; radiotelephone communication to Comoros, France, Madagascar; new microwave route to Mauritius; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean); fiber optic submarine cable (SAT-3/WASC/SAFE) provides connectivity to Europe and Asia

Radio broadcast stations:AM 2, FM 55, shortwave 0 (2001)
Radios:173,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:35 (plus 18 low-power repeaters) (2001)
Televisions:127,000 (1997)
Internet country code:.re
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):1 (2000)
Internet users:150,000 (2002)
TransportationTop
Highways:total: 1,214 km (including 88 km of four-lane roads) (2001)
Ports and harbors:Le Port, Pointe des Galets
Merchant marine:total: 1 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 28,264 GRT/44,885 DWT
by type: chemical tanker 1
foreign-owned: 1 (France 1)
registered in other countries: 1 (2005)

Airports:2 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:total: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2004 est.)

MilitaryTop
Military branches:no regular indigenous military forces; French forces (includes Army, Navy, Air Force, and Gendarmerie)
Military manpower - military age and obligation:18 years of age (2004)
Military manpower - availability:males age 18-49: 183,421 (2005 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:males age 18-49: 142,578 (2005 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:males: 7,339 (2005 est.)
Military note:defense is the responsibility of France
Transnational IssuesTop
Disputes - international:none



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