Réunionese culture is a blend (métissage) of European, African, Indian, Chinese and insular traditions. The most widely spoken language, Réunion Creole, derives from French.
French is the only official language of Réunion. Although not official, Réunion Creole is the native language of a large part of the population and is spoken alongside French. Creole is used informally and orally in some administration offices whereas the official language of any administration office as well as education is French.
Because of the diverse population, other languages are also spoken such as Comorian language varieties (especially Shimaore), Malagasy by recent immigrants from Mayotte and Madagascar, Mandarin, Hakka and Cantonese by members of the Chinese community, but fewer people speak these languages as younger generations start to converse in French and Réunion Creole. There are significant number of speakers of Indian languages mostly Tamil, Gujarati and Urdu. Arabic is taught in mosques and spoken by a small community of Muslims. English is a compulsory second language as part of the French school curriculum, but as in mainland France, English fluency is rare. German and Spanish are offered as a third language. Tamil is also taught as an optional language in some schools.
There are two music genres which originated in Réunion: sega, which originated earlier and is also traditional in Mauritius, Rodrigues and Seychelles and maloya, which originated in the 19th century and is only found in Réunion.
Moringue is a popular combat/dance sport similar to capoeira.
There are several famous Réunionese sportsmen and women like the handballer Jackson Richardson, as well as the karateka Lucie Ignace.
Professional footballers include Dimitri Payet, Florent Sinama Pongolle and Guillaume Hoarau. Laurent Robert and ex-Hibernian and Celtic player Didier Agathe have also featured in movies. Agathe appeared in A Shot at Glory, whilst Robert was in Goal!.
Réunion has a number of contributions to worldwide professional surfing. It has been home to notable pro surfers including Jeremy Flores, Johanne Defay and Justine Mauvin. Famous break St Leu has been host to several world surfing championship competitions.
The predominant religion is Christianity, notably Roman Catholicism, with a single (Latin Rite) jurisdiction, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint-Denis-de-La Réunion. Religious Intelligence estimates Christians to be 80.9% of the population, followed by Hindus (10.7%) and Muslims (2.2%). Chinese folk religion and Buddhism are also represented, among others.
Most large towns have a Hindu temple and a mosque.
The climate in Réunion is tropical, but temperature moderates with elevation. The weather is cool and dry from May to November, but hot and rainy from November to April. Precipitation levels vary greatly within the island, with the east being much wetter than the west. There is more than 6 m of rain a year on some parts of the east and less than 1 m a year on the west coast. Réunion holds the world records for the most rainfall in 12-, 24-, 72- and 96-hour periods.
Réunion hosts many tropical and unique beaches. These beaches are often equipped with barbecues, amenities, and parking spaces. Hermitage Beach is the most extensive and best preserved lagoon in Réunion Island and a popular snorkelling location. It is a white sand beach that’s lined with casuarina trees under which the locals organise picnics. La Plage des Brisants is a well-known surfing spot, with many athletic and leisurely activities taking place. Each November, a film festival is also organised in La Plage des Bristants. Movies are projected on a large screen in front of a large crowd. Beaches at Boucan Canot are surrounded by a stretch of restaurants that particularly cater to tourists. L’Etang-Salé is a unique beach. It is covered in black sand consisting of tiny fragments of basalt. This occurs when lava contacts water, it cools rapidly and shatters into sand and fragmented debris of various size. Much of the debris is small enough to be considered sand. Grand Anse is a tropical white sand beach lined with coconut trees in the south of Réunion, with a rock pool built for swimmers, a petanque playground, and a picnic area.