Arab sailors formerly called the island Adna Al Maghribain (Western Island). The Portuguese were the first Europeans to visit, finding it uninhabited in 1513, and naming it Santa Apollonia, after Saint Apollonia.
The island was then occupied by France and administered from Port Louis, Mauritius. Although the French flag was hoisted by François Cauche in 1638, Santa Apollonia was officially claimed by Jacques Pronis of France in 1642, when he deported a dozen French mutineers to the island from Madagascar. The convicts were returned to France several years later, and in 1649, the island was named Ile Bourbon after the royal house.
Map of Réunion
Réunion was the name given to the island in 1793 by a decree of the Convention with the fall of the House of Bourbon in France, and the name commemorates the union of revolutionaries from Marseille with the National Guard in Paris, which took place on August 10, 1792. In 1801, the island was renamed "Ile Bonaparte," after Napoleon Bonaparte. The island was taken by the British navy led by Commodore Josias Rowley in 1810, who used the old name of Bourbon. When it was restored to France by the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the island retained the name of "Bourbon" until 1848, when the fall of the restored Bourbons during the revolutions during that year meant that the island became Réunion once again.
From the 17th to the 19th centuries, French immigration supplemented by influxes of Africans, Chinese, Malays, and Indians gave the island its ethnic mix. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 cost the island its importance as a stopover on the East Indies trade route.
Reunion, infos taken from Wikipedia
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