The World Factbook (1990)/Reunion

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Reunion (overseas department of France)

World Factbook (1990) Reunion.jpg

See regional map VII


Total area: 2,510 km²; land area: 2,500 km²

Comparative area: slightly smaller than Rhode Island

Land boundaries: none

Coastline: 201 km

Maritime claims:

Continental shelf: 200 meters or to depth of exploitation
Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

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: 20% arable land; 2% permanent crops; 4% meadows and pastures; 35% forest and woodland; 39% other; includes 2% irrigated

Environment: periodic devastating cyclones

Note: located 750 km east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean


Population: 595,583 (July 1990), growth rate 1.9% (1990)

Birth rate: 24 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 5 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 9 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 70 years male, 76 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 2.6 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Reunionese (sing. and pl.); adjective—Reunionese

Ethnic divisions: most of the population is of intermixed French, African, Malagasy, Chinese, Pakistani, and Indian ancestry

Religion: 94% Roman Catholic

Language: French (official); Creole widely used

Literacy: NA%, but over 80% among younger generation

Labor force: NA; 30% agriculture, 21% industry, 49% services (1981); 63% of population of working age (1983)

Organized labor: General Confederation of Workers of Reunion (CGTR)


Long-form name: Department of Reunion

Type: overseas department of France

Capital: Saint-Denis

Administrative divisions: none (overseas department of France)

Independence: none (overseas department of France)

Constitution: 28 September 1958 (French Constitution)

Legal system: French law

National holiday: Taking of the Bastille, 14 July (1789)

Executive branch: French president, Commissioner of the Republic

Legislative branch: unicameral General Council, unicameral Regional Council

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

Leaders: Chief of State—President François MITTERRAND (since 21 May 1981);

Head of Government—Commissioner of the Republic Daniel CONSTANTIN (since September 1989)

Political parties and leaders: Rally for the Republic (RPR), François Mas; Union for French Democracy (UDF), Gilbert Gerard; Communist Party of Reunion (PCR); France-Reunion Future (FRA), André Thien Ah Koon; Socialist Party (PS), Jean-Claude Fruteau; Social Democrats (CDS), other small parties

Suffrage: universal at age 18

Elections: Regional Council—last held 16 March 1986 (next to be held March 1991); results—RPR/UDF 36.8%, PCR 28.2%, FRA and other right wing 17.3%, PS 14.1%, other 3.6%; seats—(45 total) RPR/UDF 18, PCR 13, FRA and other right wing 8, PS 6;

French Senate—last held 24 September 1989 (next to be held September 1992); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(3 total) RPR-UDF 1, PS 1, independent 1;

French National Assembly—last held 5 and 12 June 1988 (next to be held June 1993); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(5 total) PCR 2, RPR 1, UDF-CDS 1, FRA 1

Communists: Communist party small but has support among sugarcane cutters, the minuscule Popular Movement for the Liberation of Reunion (MPLR), and in the district of Le Port

Member of: WFTU

Diplomatic representation: as an overseas department of France, Reunionese interests are represented in the US by 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 is pushing the development of a tourist industry to relieve a high unemployment rate that was over 30% in 1986. The economic well-being of Reunion depends heavily on continued financial assistance from France.

GDP: $2.4 billion, per capita $4,290 (1985); real growth rate 9% (1987 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.8% (1987)

Unemployment rate: 32.0%; high seasonal unemployment (1986)

Budget: revenues $358 million; expenditures $914 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1986)

Exports: $136 million (f.o.b., 1986); commodities—sugar 75%, rum and molasses 4%, perfume essences 4%, vanilla and tea 1%; partners—France, Mauritius, Bahrain, S. Africa, Italy

Imports: $1.1 million (c.i.f., 1986); 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%

Electricity: 245,000 kW capacity; 546 million kWh produced, 965 kWh per capita (1989)

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

Aid: Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $13.5 billion

Currency: French franc (plural—francs); 1 French franc (F) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: French francs (F) per US$1—5.7598 (January 1990), 6.3801 (1989), 5.9569 (1988), 6.0107 (1987), 6.9261 (1986), 8.9852 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Highways: 2,800 km total; 2,200 km paved, 600 km gravel, crushed stone, or stabilized earth

Ports: Pointe des Galets

Civil air: 1 major transport aircraft

Airports: 2 total, 2 usable; 2 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 1 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 1 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: adequate system for needs; modern open-wire line and radio relay network; principal center Saint-Denis; radiocommunication to Comoros, France, Madagascar; new radio relay route to Mauritius; 85,900 telephones; stations—3 AM, 13 FM, 1 (18 relays) TV; 1 Indian Ocean INTELSAT earth station

Defense Forces

Military manpower: males 15-49, 158,812; 82,400 fit for military service; 6,075 reach military age (18) annually

Note: defense is the responsibility of France