Réunion: A world in miniature
Reunion is an island in the Indian Ocean with a population of mixed origin. The principal divisions in Reunion’s population are economic rather than social or ethnic. Metropolitan France governed Reunion as a colony until 1946, when it received full departmental status. The OAU has called for the independence of Reunion and condemned its occupation by a ‘colonial power’, but few people on the island advocate independence. The island has an advanced economy traditionally based on agriculture, especially sugar cane. However, it requires substantial food imports and has no mineral resources. Recently, efforts have been made to diversify the economy, with the local administration embarking on programmes to improve the infrastructure. The French government has also increased infrastructural spending, and launched a programme to enhance the island’s economic status. Trade is confined mostly to EEC countries, the franc zone, Madagascar and southern Africa. France is Reunion’s major trading partner, and South Africa the fourth biggest. Tourism is actively promoted. Unemployment has been the cause of major socio-economic hardship. Reunion receives economic assistance from the EEC and from arrangements under the Lome Convention. Its immediate economic future depends on France, who is committed to the island, contributing towards making Reunion a fascinating and complex world in miniature.