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About Reunion

For earlier issues, see Isle of Bourbon, and Isles of France and of Bourbon. A previously uninhabited island about 500 miles east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean was visited by Portuguese explorers in the early 1500s, then colonized by the French in the mid-1600s. In 1649, the French named it Isle de Bourbon (Bourbon Island) after the French royal House of Bourbon. During the French Revolution, on 19 March 1793, the Isle de Bourbon was renamed Isle de Réunion, presumably in honor of the meeting of the fédérés of Marseilles and the Paris National Guards that preceded the insurrection of 10 August 1792. On 26 September 1806, the island was renamed Isle de Bonaparte, in honor of Napoleon Bonaparte. During the Napoleonic wars, the Isle de Bonaparte (nee Réunion and Bourbon) was captured by British forces on 9 July 1809. When the island was restored to France by the Congress of Vienna in 1815, it reverted to the name of Isle de Bourbon. This continued until the fall of the restored Bourbons during the French Revolution of 1848, when the island was once again given the name Isle de Réunion. It subsequently became an overseas department of France in 1946.

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