Reunion Island is located in the Indian Ocean, benefiting of a tropical weather. It is at 800 km eastern Madagascar, part of the Mascareign Island archipelago alongside Mauritius and Rodrigues. Its environment, tropical forest, volcano massive and sugar cane plantations create its very lively atmosphere. The island has numerous assets, such as the melting-pot of its population (its history has been a permanent intermixing of people), its fauna and flora as well as its strategic pivot location in the south-west of the Indian Ocean. The island is French since 1638 and became a French integrated department in 1946.
Reunion Island has a surface of 2512km square and its coasts delimit a perimeter of 210 km.
The Island is made up of two volcano massive
In the north-west, the “Piton des Neiges” (3069 m) dominates the three “cirques” which surround it Cilaos, Slazie and Mafate. The last-mentioned, where 700 inhabitants live is inaccessible by car. They are the result of the collapse and erosion of the slopes of the former volcano. In the south east, the “Piton de la Fournaise” (2631m) is an active Hawaiian type volcano.
It is particularly active as it enters in eruption several times a year, which always constitutes a great attraction for the reunionese as well as for the tourists. Both volcanoes the snow peak and the piton de la fournaise are linked by the “Plaine des Palmistes” and the “Plaine des cafres” which meet together at the “Bellevue” pass.
Torrential rains during the wet season of the tropical weather is at the origin of numerous gullies and rivers going down from the summits, alternating deep throats and calmer areas, sometimes blocked up by rocks and decorated with waterfalls as well as natural pools.
Reunion Island erosion is one of the most characteristic world-wide; it is irreversible and structures the landscapes and the typical relief of the island. The oriental side known as the windward coast, having a high rainfall where several rivers such as the “rivière du mât”, the “marsoin” river or the “east river” are permanent spring is contrasting with the occidental leeward coast showing dry areas.