The Indian Ocean island of La Reunion is regarded as a part of France, which is a polite way of saying it is a colonial remnant of the former French empire that still occupies bits and pieces of the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean. The main town and only airport is at St-Denis, on the north coast; however, the island’s main harbour is simply called Le Port, on the west coast. Most of the beaches are along the south coast. The road network is well-developed, with a circular highway more-or-less following the coastline around the edge of the island and a cross-island route bisecting the eastern third, between the towns of Sainte-Pierre and Saint-Benoit. Tourism is now the island’s major source of revenue after sugar exports, and hotels, resorts, and Oceanside resorts, hotels, and B&Bs abound.
Flights arrive directly from Europe, but also from Mauritius and Madagascar. The island is volcanic, like Hawaii, and the population is a mixture of Asian, African, and European settlers. There are no indigenous people. Reunion has gone through several changes of ‘ownership’ and name since the Portuguese first arrived in the early 1600s, but gained its current name to commemorate the meeting of two French revolutionary groups in 1793. Although the island opted for Vichy control during WW2, a small force of Free French arrived in late 1942 and the island switched to the allied side. Sugar has always been the main crop of the island, which is internally self-governing. It elects senators and Representatives to the parliament in Paris, as do other French overseas possessions.