President of the General Council: Nassimah Dindar
Land area: 9,633 sq mi (24,949 sq km); total area: 970 sq mi (2,511 sq km)
Monetary unit: Euro
Languages: The language in common use on the island is Réunion French Creole, and Tamil is also spoken by some people; French, however, is the official language.
Ethnicity/race: Ethnic groups present include people of African, Indian, European, Malagasy and Chinese origin. Local names for these are Yabs, Cafres, Malbars and Chinois.
Religions: About four-fifths of the population is Roman Catholic
Economic summary: In 2017, the GDP of Réunion at market exchange rates, not at PPP, was estimated at 19.7 billion euros (US$22.3 bn) and the GDP per capita (also at market exchange rates) was 22,900 euros (US$25,900). Economic growth has been at around +3.0% per year in real terms since 2014.
Sugar was traditionally the chief agricultural product and export. Tourism is now an important source of income. The island’s remote location combined with its stable political alignment with Europe makes it a key location for satellite receiving stations and naval navigation.
GDP sector composition in 2013 (contribution of each sector to the total gross value added)
Unemployment is a major problem on Réunion, although the situation has improved markedly since the beginning of the 2000s: the unemployment rate, which stood above 30% from the early 1980s to the early 2000s, declined to 24.6% in 2007, then rebounded to 29.8% in 2011 due to the 2008 global financial crisis and subsequent Great Recession, but declined again after 2011, reaching 22.4% in 2016, its lowest level in 40 years. Since 2016, the unemployment rate has risen again, and reached 24.3% in 2018, nonetheless the fourth lowest yearly figure in 40 years.
In 2014, 40% of the population lived below the poverty line (defined by INSEE as 60% of Metropolitan France’s median income; in 2014 the poverty line for a family of two parents and two young children was €2,064 (US$2,743) per month).
Rum distillation contributes to the island’s economy. A “Product of France”, it is shipped to Europe for bottling, then shipped to consumers around the world.