The importance of Reunion island

Reunion may be a tiny island, but there some interesting things about it.

You probably have no idea where it is, so we start with its location:,47.5723779,6z

Its nearest neighbours are the similarly-sized Mauritius and the much larger Madagascar.

What makes it special is its legal status-it is thousands of km from the French mainland but is governed as a part of France (not as a French colony). France, like Britain, had a vast and complicated empire with various grades of colonies. While Britain never declared any faraway colony as a part of Britain, France has done this for the following:

Reunion (Indian Ocean)

French Guiana (South America)-known for Devil’s Island and Papillon, while its capital Cayenne gave its name to a variety of pepper

Guadeloupe (Caribbean)

Martininque (Caribbean)-known for the Mt Pelee volcanic disaster

Mayotte (Indian Ocean)

In all these places Marcon is the president and the Euro is the currency, and members are elected to the French parliament.

This gives rise to some interesting trivia-as one of the world’s longest domestic flights goes from Paris to Reunion (5809 miles/9352 km nonstop). One may say that it is not what one normally understands by a domestic flight. Similarly for flights between Hawaii, Alaska and the “Lower 48” states of the US. And the Netherlands has a similar non-stop flight to Bonaire in the Caribbean. The longest “genuine” domestic flight is between Adler and Khabarovsk in Russia (4287 miles/6902 km). For more on this topic:

Then there are other cases like the flights from Calcutta to Port Blair which used to stop at Rangoon up to the mid-70s.

Coming back to Reunion, it is a vacation spot of some importance to the French but it was in the news because of this:

This piece remains the only identifiable piece of debris from MH 370 ever found. Unfortunately, we are still far from any clue as to how the plane crashed or where more debris can be found. The French authorities seem to feel that the condition of this piece of the “flaperon” indicates that the aircraft ditched at sea rather than crashing at high speed (which would be expected if it ran out of fuel without anyone at the controls). More confusion. Meanwhile, the presence of several varieties of barnacles (not the blue blistering barnacles beloved of fans of Captain Haddock and Tintin) promise to give some indication of where the piece floated on its way to Reunion.

Those who want to keep up with developments in the story can refer to where the comments are generally more informative than the original posts.

An interesting point of coincidence (or deliberate manipulation, if you are a conspiracy theorist) is that this piece of debris reached the one spot in thousands of square km which is under the control of a technically advanced country which would thoroughly examine it.


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