The island of Réunion celebrates Abolition Day on 20 December each year. This holiday commemorates the day in 1848 when slavery was made illegal in the colony of Réunion by the French colonial government.
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Ever since Réunion was taken by France in 1642, it had become a major trade stop en route to India and the East Indies. It soon also became the site of many coffee plantations, and slaves were brought in to work those plantations. Although some came from Africa, China, and India under better terms than slavery, all non-European inhabitants were made slaves in 1690.
When slavery was ended on the island in 1848, it created a labour shortage, which then led to indentured servants immigrating from other lands. This further increased the ethnic diversity of an island already quite diverse. Today, all citizens of Réunion look back to abolition as a key moment in the country’s history, and there are many cultural celebrations held all over the island on Abolition Day.
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