Saint-Joseph is the southernmost commune of France, located in the extreme south of Reunion Island. It belongs to the district of Saint-Pierre. Saint-Joseph is the central town of the Deep South (Sud Sauvage), which consists of the neighbouring town councils of Petite-Ile and Saint-Philippe, where 67% of the population of the region is concentrated.

The town council of Saint-Joseph covers 17.850 hectares and has a population, according to the latest estimates, of more than 34.000 (the 1999 census counted 30 293 inhabitants - INSEE, RGP, 1999). The territory is bordered by the ravines of Manapany and Basse-Vallée and spreads “from the peaks of the mountains to the seashore” and is the gateway to the volcano. The landscape is deeply scarred by four riverbeds: the ravine of Manapany to the west, the Rivière des Remparts and the Rivière de Langevin in the centre, and the ravine of Basse-Vallée to the east. Between these riverbeds, the three plateaux which make up the territory are not connected : the only way to get from one to the other is along the coast road. The specific relief of the area means that Saint-Joseph suffers from internal as well as external isolation and the various mountain villages situated here are relatively remote.

Saint-Joseph has approximately thirty neighbourhoods, the main ones being: Manapany les Bains, Goyaves, Butor, Cayenne, Les Quais, Carosse, Bézaves, les Lianes, la Plaine des Grègues, le Centre-Ville (town centre), Les Jacques, Bois Noirs, Bas de Jean-Petit, Jean-Petit, Grand Coude, Langevin, la Passerelle, Grand Galet, Vincendo, Matouta, Parc à Moutons, Jacques Payet, La Crête, etc.

The remote character of Saint-Joseph, and of the Deep South generally, has made it possible to preserve the traditional way of life and the wild natural landscape. The inhabitants of the area are known for their sing-song accent and their welcoming nature.

Finally, from an economic point of view, approximately 52 % of the population of Saint-Joseph are unemployed, in spite of a thriving town centre and the presence of dynamic local businessmen. The area remains, however very rural and is well-known for its agricultural activity, in particular dairy and pig farming.



Three topics are proposed for the next European Rural University, which will take place on 7th, 8th and 9th September 2010 in Saint-Joseph :

- Europe at the service of the rural community and its inhabitants,
- Rural professions for women,
- Culture : between heritage and innovation.

16 November 2009