Reunion Island: Culture Cauldron

Cultural Diversity in Reunion Island

Vibrant multi-coloured Indian temples catering for the population's Hindu community shine like magnificent kaleidoscopic palaces from quiet street corners.

Vibrant multi-coloured Indian temples catering for the population’s Hindu community glow like magnificent kaleidoscopic palaces from quiet street corners.

Vibrant multi-coloured Indian temples catering for the population's Hindu community glow like magnificent kaleidoscopic palaces from quiet street corners.

Vibrant multi-coloured Indian temples catering for the population’s Hindu community glow like magnificent kaleidoscopic palaces from quiet street corners.

The tiny french overseas island of Reunion off the coast of Africa is just 45 km wide, yet boasts roaring waterfalls cascading from great stone-faced cliffs, fiery volcanoes seeped in molten scarlet lava, towering snow-capped mountain ranges looming amidst azure blue skies and gentle ocean waves that gambol onto white sand beaches. With a population as ethnically diverse as its geographical topography, Reunion Island seems to be the one place in the world where vastly differing cultures live side by side and harmoniously melt into one another.

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From French colonizers and Madagascan slaves to early 17th century Chinese, Indian and Arab settlers, throughout the island’s history immigrants have been diverse in descent, creating a predominantly mixed-race population that today largely comes from mixed French, Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Malay and African backgrounds. This diversity is reflected in the culture on numerous levels- the local language of Reunionnaise Creole is derived from French, Malagasy, Hindi, Portuguese, Gujurati and Tamil, the local Sega music that oftens recounts tales of slavery in Creole is a fusion of African, Malagasy and European music and the same cultural variety can also be said of the cuisine as the aroma of wild assortments of Indian, Mauritian, Chinese, French and Madagascan dishes waft from the doorways of local restaurants.

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However, there is trouble in paradise; the French flag rides high above universities and official colonial style government buildings like a constant reminder for Reunionnaise inhabitants of the atrocities of slavery suffered under the hands of French colonials and despite French being the mother tongue for only a small minority, it remains the official language. Unemployment levels are high, particularly among the younger population, the majority of which finish education early as French (rather than Creole) schooling proves to be a difficult a challenge to face in a second language. Heavily economically dependant on France, high unemployment levels have in turn lead to riots, alcohol abuse issues, crime and declining family values while threats of volcano eruptions and shark attacks have been inadequately dealt with, leading many to question whether a territory can really be effectively managed by a leader over 9000 km away.

Is Reunion Island able to construct a stable social structure whilst remaining a member of the French overseas territories? Is there a solution to increasingly worrying unemployment levels in Reunion? Are the sharks massacring us or are we massacring them? What effect will the French government’s proposal to poach 90 sharks have on the ecosystem?  For further reading you may like to consult the following sources on finding a stable social equilibrium , discussing the deaths due to shark attacks, plans to kill sharks for scienceeconomic dependency on France, unemployment solutions and the island’s efforts to form ties with India through the oil industry.

With tourism on the up, animal mistreatment comes  into light as exotic wildlife are beaton hourly with sticks for tourist amusement.

With tourism on the up for islands on the Indian Ocean, animal mistreatment comes into light as exotic wildlife are beaten with sticks for tourist amusement on neighbouring island Mauritius.

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Fresh Pitaya, licis, coconuts, bananas and dragon fruit are among some of the exotic fruits on offer at daily markets as local farmers reap the rewards of Reunion’s richly fertile volcanic soils.

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Covered in craters from recent eruptions, the island’s volcano Piton de la Fournaise is one of the most active in the world; having erupted over 170 times since 1640 it rivals even the Hawaiian volcanos in intensity.

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Have a browse of the following blogs if you want to know more on the pearl of the Indian ocean that is Reunion Island: Reunion Island Photography, Welcome to Reunion Island, Orson’s Travel Blog and Reunion Island Adventure.

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11 thoughts on “Reunion Island: Culture Cauldron

    • Hi Catharine, sorry perhaps I was being a bit extreme in saying that! I just felt it was a shame to see the way in which the animals are being treated. In fact it was taken at Mauritius not Reunion, my apologies!

  1. awesome place! I first heard about Reunion Island when I went to Mauritius, and our hotel was filled with motorbike riders who came from Reunion for an event in Mauritius. I would love to visit it someday.

  2. Thanks for letting me camp out in your blog for a little while today. I had a great time and tried to leave my campsite as good as when I arrived. I’ll be back!

    P.S. I would have left you a LIKE on six posts but LIKE buttons are not working for me on blogs with a URL that ends with wordpress.com……..:(

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