Houses near the road on the N3 road to Piton de la Fournaise. Reunion is a French overseas territory located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, east of the island of Madagascar. This charming destination is blessed with a tropical climate and beautiful volcanic landscapes, with their appeal is as much for its white sandy beaches and mountain scenery. The Portuguese discovered the uninhabited island in 1513. From the 17th to the 19th centuries, French immigration supplemented by the influx of Africans, Chinese, Malagasy, and Malabar 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 trade route to the East Indies. It remained a colony until 1946, when it became a department of the French Republic. The locals take pride in marking the anniversary of the abolition of slavery (which occurred on December 20, 1848), in a festival known locally as "La Fête Kaffir" (a "Kaffir" is the name given to an indigenous inhabitant of the island, now widely used to address friends). This gesture toward the past is still very present in today's society, and as such, the word "slave" ("esclave") is a grave insult to Réunion. Today, the population of Reunion is very diverse in terms of ethnicity, each group inheriting their respective traditions.