Reunion island, with its 732 570 inhabitants (result of the 2001 census) and a density of 292.2 inhabitant/km2 is the most populated of the French overseas departments.
The publication of the 1999 census shows that the reunioneese demography is up to 1.72 % per year since 1990. The growth is due to a massive population movement but above all to a natural growth (surplus of birth on deceases): the birth rate reaches 20 0/00 (the birth rate is around 13 0/00 in the mother country France) whereas the mortality rate is around 5 0/00. The migratory sold 1990-1999 is positive as well. Should this rhythm remain unchanged reunion island population could reach 900 000 to one million inhabitants in 2025. The figures are underlining a definite ageing process of the population (51 400 are over 60 years old in 1990, 70 700 in 1999). By the same time, the number of persons below the age of 20 years old has gone down to 36% of the population when this rate was of 40% in 1990. The number of young adults (20 to 29 years old) got down to 15% of the population since 1990, whereas the number of persons from 30 to 39 years old is becoming the most important age bracket (17%).
One of the prominent reasons of this ageing process is definitely the longevity. The life expectancy reaches 70.4 years old for men and 78.6 for women, which represents a growth of 10 month since 1990.
On the first of January 2006 the number of inhabitants living in Reunion was estimated at 784 000 people. The combination of a natural excess and a slight migratory deficit (around 1000 persons) generate a rise of reunion island population of 9 400 individuals (+12.1 0/00) in the period between 2004 and 2005.
The birth rate is slightly going down for reaching 18.7 0 /00 but remains widely higher than in the mother country France (12.7 0 /00). The mortality rate is rising as well around 5.5 but remains much lower in Reunion Island than in the mother country France (8.7 0/00). The development of the mortality rate follows from the structure by age of the reunion Island population younger than the French one (continent).
Three centuries and half of history changed it all, for this empty island at first. Little by little, from diverse horizons people arrived and constituted a melting-pot society in which however six groups can be dissociated: