Department of Réunion is an overseas department of France. The island, 2,510 km2 in size, lies approximately 600 km east of Madagascar, 164 km south-west of Mauritius and 574 km west of Rodrigues. Two mountain ranges dominate the island, Cirques of Cilaos and Salazie and Mafate, the highest point being Piton des Neiges, an extinct volcano, at 3,069 m. Piton de la Fournaise at 2,631 m is an active volcano. There are two predominant seasons; October to March is characterised by hot, wet cyclonic conditions, while April to September is the cool, dry winter. The population is 766,153 (July 2004 estimate) and the languages are French (official) and Creole.
The Iles Eparses are widely scattered islands or archipelagos in the south-west Indian Ocean: four are in the Mozambique Channel (from north to south, the Glorieuses archipelago, Juan de Nova, Bassas da India and Europa, the largest at 3,000 ha) and one (Tromelin) lies east of Madagascar. They form a French overseas territory but are administered from La Réunion. The total population of these islands is only 40 military and meteorological station staff.