The Most Common Surnames in Reunion Island, a Quick Overview

Reunion Island is a small yet diverse island situated in the Indian Ocean. It is home to a melting pot of cultures, resulting in a unique blend of traditions, languages, and surnames. In this article, we will explore the most common surnames found on Reunion Island and their origins, shedding light on the island's rich cultural heritage.

Ranking Last Name Incidence Letters

The Diversity of Reunion’s Most Common Surnames

Reunion, a French overseas department located in the Indian Ocean, is known for its vibrant culture and diverse population. The island nation is the perfect melting pot of African, Asian, and European heritage, which is reflected in its language, cuisine, and most importantly, its surnames. Here, we explore the most common surnames in Reunion and what they tell us about its rich history and people.

A Bit of History

Reunion Island was first discovered by Arab sailors in the 9th century, who named it Dina Morgabin, meaning the Western Island. It remained uninhabited until the arrival of the French East India Company in the 17th century, who claimed it as a colony and named it Bourbon Island. Slavery was introduced in the late 17th century, and thousands of African slaves were brought to the island to work on sugar plantations. This led to a significant influx of African heritage, which is still evident in many of the surnames today.

The Top Surnames

The most common surnames in Reunion Island include Hoarau, Payet, Fontaine, Nirlo, and Riviere. Hoarau is a surname of Malagasy origin and means “the child of royalty.” Payet comes from the French word “paye,” which means “salary” or “payment,” suggesting it may have been given to plantation workers who received payment for their labour. Fontaine means “fountain” in French and is likely derived from a location name. Nirlo is a Creole word meaning “hedgehog,” and Riviere means “river” in French.

Cultural Significance

Surnames in Reunion Island can reflect a person’s racial or ethnic background, religious affiliation, or even occupation. For example, surnames like Lebon or Lebreton are common among the French Creole community, while names like Patel or Subramanian are prevalent among the Indian community. Other surnames like Lauret, Bègue, or Hoarau are linked to specific regions or villages on the island and have deep cultural significance.

The Modern Era

Today, Reunion Island has become a hub for tourism and economic growth, attracting people from all over the world. As a result, new surnames have emerged with mixed heritage, reflecting the island’s diversity and cosmopolitanism. These names are a reminder of Reunion’s vibrant culture and rich history and will continue to evolve as the island continues to evolve.


In conclusion, a surname can tell us a lot about a person’s cultural identity and background. In Reunion Island, the most common surnames reflect a mix of African, Asian, and European heritage, and are a testament to the island’s rich history and diversity. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, take the time to appreciate these names and the stories behind them – you’re sure to learn something new.