[Country map of Reunion]


(overseas department of France)


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

Map references: World

total area: 2,510 sq km
land area: 2,500 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than Rhode Island

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 201 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: none

Climate: tropical, but 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

Natural resources: fish, arable land

Land use:
arable land: 20%
permanent crops: 2%
meadows and pastures: 4%
forest and woodland: 35%
other: 39%

Irrigated land: 60 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues: NA
natural hazards: periodic, devastating cyclones (December to April); Piton de la Fournaise on the southeastern coast is an active volcano
international agreements: NA


Population: 666,067 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 32% (female 104,924; male 109,972)
15-64 years: 62% (female 210,762; male 203,774)
65 years and over: 6% (female 21,606; male 15,029) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.98% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 24.59 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 4.79 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 7.7 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 74.46 years
male: 71.39 years
female: 77.67 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.75 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Reunionese (singular and plural)
adjective: Reunionese

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

Religions: Roman Catholic 94%

Languages: French (official), Creole widely used

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

Labor force: NA
by occupation: agriculture 30%, industry 21%, services 49% (1981)


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

Digraph: RE

Type: overseas department of France

Capital: Saint-Denis

Administrative divisions: none (overseas department of France)

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 Francois MITTERRAND (since 21 May 1981)
head of government: Prefect of Reunion Island Hubert FOURNIER (since NA)
cabinet: Council of Ministers

Legislative branch: unicameral General Council and unicameral Regional Council
General Council: elections last held March 1994 (next to be held NA); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (47 total) PCR 12, PS 12, UDF 11, RPR 5, others 7
Regional Council: elections last held 25 June 1993 (next to be held NA); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (45 total) UPF 17, Free-Dom Movement 13, PCR 9, PS 6
French Senate: elections last held 24 September 1992 (next to be held NA); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (3 total) RPR 1, FRA 1, independent 1
French National Assembly: elections last held 21 and 28 March 1993 (next to be held NA 1998); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (5 total) PS 1, PCR 1, UPF 1, RPR 1, UDF-CDS 1

Judicial branch: Court of Appeals (Cour d'Appel)

Political parties and leaders: Rally for the Republic (RPR), Alain DEFAUD; Union for French Democracy (UDF), Gilbert GERARD; Communist Party of Reunion (PCR), Elie HOARAU;; France-Reunion Future (FRA), Andre THIEN AH KOON; Socialist Party (PS), Jean-Claude FRUTEAU; Social Democrats (CDS), leader NA; Union for France (UPF - including RPR and UDF); Free-Dom Movement, Marguerite SUDRE

Member of: FZ, WFTU

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

US diplomatic representation: none (overseas department of France)

Flag: the flag of France is used


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 recently amounted 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 indigenous 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.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $2.5 billion (1993 est.)

National product real growth rate: NA%

National product per capita: $3,900 (1993 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA%

Unemployment rate: 35% (February 1991)

revenues: $358 million
expenditures: $914 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1986 est.)

Exports: $166 million (f.o.b., 1988)
commodities: sugar 75%, rum and molasses 4%, perfume essences 4%, lobster 3%, vanilla and tea 1%
partners: France, Mauritius, Bahrain, South Africa, Italy

Imports: $1.7 billion (c.i.f., 1988)
commodities: manufactured goods, food, beverages, tobacco, machinery and transportation equipment, raw materials, and petroleum products
partners: France, Mauritius, Bahrain, South Africa, Italy

External debt: $NA

Industrial production: growth rate NA%; about 25% of GDP

capacity: 180,000 kW
production: 1 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 1,454 kWh (1993)

Industries: sugar, rum, cigarettes, several small shops producing handicraft items

Agriculture: accounts for 30% of labor force; dominant sector of economy; cash crops - sugarcane, vanilla, tobacco; food crops - tropical fruits, vegetables, corn; imports large share of food needs

Economic aid:
recipient: Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $14.8 billion

Currency: 1 French franc (F) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: French francs (F) per US$1 - 5.2943 (January 1995), 5.5520 (1994), 5.6632 (1993), 5.2938 (1992), 5.6421 (1991), 5.4453 (1990)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 0 km

total: 2,800 km
paved: 2,200 km
unpaved: gravel, crushed stone, stabilized earth 600 km

Ports: Le Port, Pointe des Galets

Merchant marine: none

total: 2
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 1


Telephone system: 85,900 telephones; adequate system; principal center Saint-Denis
local: NA
intercity: modern open-wire and microwave network
international: radiocommunication to Comoros, France, Madagascar; new microwave route to Mauritius; 1 INTELSAT (Indian Ocean) earth station

broadcast stations: AM 3, FM 13, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 1 (repeaters 18)
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

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

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 173,693; males fit for military service 89,438; males reach military age (18) annually 5,781 (1995 est.)

Note: defense is the responsibility of France