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« Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #38 of 54: Nigeria | Main | Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #40 of 54: Rwanda »

August 10, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #39 of 54: Reunion

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) ---
Flag of Reunion

Formal Name: Reunion

Term for Citizens: Reunionnese.

Capital: Saint Denis.

Date of Independence: Not yet Independent from France.

Major Cities: Saint Denis.


Reunion is located in the Indian Ocean. It is an Island, 39 miles long and 28 miles wide, for a total of 970 square miles. The island is on top of hotspots in the earth’s crust. The Island has two active Volcanic Mountains: Piton de la fournaise and Piton des Neiges. Reunion has three Calderas. Though Reunion is located in the Indian Ocean, France considers it as part of itself and treats it as a department in France.


Reunion’s current population is estimated at 775, 000. Most of the people live in cities in the slopes of the two mountains that dominate the island.

Ethnic Groups:

Reunion was originally an uninhabited island until the Portuguese visited it in 1513. At present, it has an ethnic mix of Africans, Malays, French, Chinese, Tamil, and Indians.

Languages: French is the official language though each of the ethnic groups speaks its own language.

Religion: Christianity is the major religion although Hinduism, Buddhism. Islam and other religions are practiced.

Education: Reunion has France’s educational system: free elementary and secondary schooling for all children and competitive entry to universities in through out France for those able to do so.


The Island was originally devoted to sugar cane cultivation and Africans, Malays and Indians were brought in to work in the sugar cane plantations. Sugar export remains the main stay of the economy. However, in recent years, tourism is the key source of revenue for the Island. The European community in the island is better off than the poor Africans who work in the sugar cane fields and or perform menial jobs in the various tourism related industries.

History and Government:

Reunion was an uninhabited Island in the Indian Ocean until Portuguese sailors sighted it in 1513 and named it Santa Apollonia. In 1642, the Island was claimed by France and renamed IIe Bourbon in 1649, in recognition of the Bourbon king of France. With the fall of the Bourbons during the French revolution, the Island’s name was changed to Reunion in 1793. When Napoleon Bonaparte was in power, the Island was briefly named IIe Bonaparte in 1801. The Island was again renamed with the fall of Napoleon. After more changes in names, the name Reunion stock.
Reunion was settled by Frenchmen who owned sugar cane plantations on it and brought in slaves to work for them. The Island was considered French territory from the beginning although it was only in 1946 that it was officially made a French Department (a unit of French unitary form of government, sort of like a district or county).
The government of Reunion is essentially like the government of a local government unit in France, with the national government appointing a prefect who supervises the local government (a council elected locally to operate the local bureaucracy).

Reunion is divided into four arrondissements, twenty four communes, and forty seven cantons.


Reunion is an overseas French region. It is part of France and participates in French politics, with representatives in the French National Assembly. The politics of Reunion is the politics of France. Nevertheless, Reunion considers itself part of Africa and joined the African Union.

· The other African territories that are still controlled by European powers are British Indian Ocean Territory, St. Helena; France’s Mayotte (and Reunion); Portugal’s Madeira; Spain’s Canary islands, Plaza de Soberania.

Posted by Administrator at August 10, 2006 11:03 AM


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