(overseas department of France)
[Country Flag of Reunion]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Reunion] 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.



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Location: Southern Africa, island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar

Geographic coordinates: 21 06 S, 55 36 E

Map references: World

total: 2,512 sq km
land: 2,502 sq km
water: 10 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Rhode Island

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 207 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 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: 17%
permanent crops: 2%
permanent pastures: 5%
forests and woodland: 35%
other: 41% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 60 sq km (1993 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


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Population: 720,934 (July 2000 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 32% (male 119,291; female 113,741)
15-64 years: 62% (male 220,066; female 227,632)
65 years and over: 6% (male 16,336; female 23,868) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.63% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 21.84 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 5.55 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 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: 0.97 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 8.67 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.68 years
male: 69.28 years
female: 76.24 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.61 children born/woman (2000 est.)

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

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79%
male: 76%
female: 80% (1982 est.)


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Country name:
conventional long form: Department of Reunion
conventional short form: Reunion
local long form: none
local short form: Ile de la Reunion

Data code: RE

Dependency status: overseas department of France

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 four arrondissements, 24 communes, and 47 cantons

Independence: none (overseas department of France)

National holiday: National Day, Taking of the Bastille, 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 Robert POMMIES (since NA 1996)
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 seven-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 (47 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve six-year terms) and unicameral Regional Council (45 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve six-year terms)
elections: General Council - last held NA March 1994 (next to be held NA 2000); Regional Council - last held 15 March 1998 (next to be held NA 2004)
election results: General Council - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PCR 12, PS 12, UDF 11, RPR 5, others 7; Regional Council - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PCR 7, UDF 8, PS 6, RPR 4, various right-wing candidates 15, various left-wing candidates 5
note: Reunion elects three representatives to the French Senate; elections last held 14 April 1996 (next to be held NA 2001); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - RPR 1, PCR 2; Reunion also elects five deputies to the French National Assembly; elections last held 25 May and 1 June 1997 (next to be held NA 2002); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PCR 3, PS 1, and RPR-UDF 1

Judicial branch: Court of Appeals or Cour d'Appel

Political parties and leaders: Communist Party of Reunion or PCR [Paul VERGES]; France-Reunion Future or FRA [Andre THIEN AH KOON]; Mouvement des Radicaux de Gauche or MRG [Jean-Marie FINCK]; National Front or FN [Alix MOREL]; Rally for the Republic or RPR [Andre Maurice PIHOUEE]; Socialist Party or PS [Jean-Claude FRUTEAU]; Union for France or UPF (includes RPR and UDF) [leader NA]; Union for French Democracy or UDF [Gilbert GERARD]

International organization participation: FZ, InOC, WFTU

Diplomatic representation in the US: none (overseas department of France)

Diplomatic representation from the US: none (overseas department of France)

Flag description: the flag of France is used


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Economy - 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 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 - $3.4 billion (1998 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 3.8% (1998 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $4,800 (1998 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%

Population below poverty line: NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA%

Labor force: 261,000 (1995)

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 8%, industry 19%, services 73% (1990)

Unemployment rate: 42.8% (1998)

revenues: $1.2 billion
expenditures: $2.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $260 million (1995)

Industries: sugar, rum, cigarettes, handicraft items, flower oil extraction

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity - production: 1.11 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 54.05%
hydro: 45.95%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (1998)

Electricity - consumption: 1.032 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1998)

Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1998)

Agriculture - products: sugarcane, vanilla, tobacco, tropical fruits, vegetables, corn

Exports: $214.162 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% (1994)

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% (1994)

Debt - external: $NA

Economic aid - recipient: $NA; note - substantial annual subsidies from France

Currency: 1 French franc (F) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: euros per US$1 - 0.9867 (January 2000), 0.9386 (1999); French francs (F) per US$1 - 5.65 (January 1999), 5.8995 (1998), 5.8367 (1997), 5.1155 (1996), 4.9915 (1995)

Fiscal year: calendar year


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Telephones - main lines in use: 236,500 (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 42,000 (1998)

Telephone system: adequate system; principal center is Saint-Denis
domestic: modern open wire and microwave radio relay network
international: radiotelephone communication to Comoros, France, Madagascar; new microwave route to Mauritius; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 55, shortwave 0 (1998)

Radios: 173,000 (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 22 (plus 18 low-power repeaters) (1997)

Televisions: 127,000 (1997)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): NA


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Railways: 0 km

total: 2,784 km
paved: 2,187 km
unpaved: 597 km (1987 est.)

Ports and harbors: Le Port, Pointe des Galets

Merchant marine:
total: 1 ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 28,264 GRT/44,885 DWT
ships by type: chemical tanker 1 (1999 est.)

Airports: 2 (1999 est.)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (1999 est.)


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Military branches: French forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Gendarmerie)

Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 187,423 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 95,854 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 6,037 (2000 est.)

Military - note: defense is the responsibility of France

Transnational Issues

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Disputes - international: none