Located far out in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, Reunion Island is a French overseas department, with exactly the same status as France's mainland regions. It has belonged to France since around 1640. The island is volcanic in origin and situated above a 'hotspot' in the Earth's crust. One of its peaks, Piton de la Fournaise has erupted more than 100 times during recorded history, the most recent eruption being in 2008. With its dramatic mountain and canyon landscape, rising to over 3000 metres at the summit of Piton des Neiges, Reunion Island is a fantastic trekking destination. There are numerous way-marked trails, leading through 'Creole' farmland and villages to heavily forested high valleys and remote mountain cirques, conveniently equipped with comfortable mountain refuges. The capital is St. Denis and there are also a number of pleasant coastal resorts, such as St. Gilles.