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Saint-Philippe (Municipality, Reunion, France)

Last modified: 2009-06-06 by ivan sache
Keywords: saint-philippe | dolphin (white) | volcano | canvas (yellow) |
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[Flag of Saint-Philippe]

Flag of Saint-Philippe - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 15 July 2004

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Presentation of Saint-Philippe

Saint-Philippe (4,900 inhabitants; 15,400 hectares) is one of the 24 municipalities which constitutes the Reunion island. The municipality of Saint-Philippe stretches from the ocean to the volcano Piton de la Fournaise (2,632 m a.s.l., including the southern part of the island and most of the volcanic massif. Saint-Philippe is the southernmost French municipality.

Saint-Philippe was initially the easternmost part of the borough (quartier) of Saint-Joseph, created in 1785. The first settlement in Saint-Philippe seems to date to 1750. The municipality of Saint-Philippe was created in 1830, being the only municipality in the island to have been created before its parish, which was created in 1836.
In 1852, governor Hubert-Delisle inaugurated a boundary stone showing the border between the municipalities of Saint-Philippe and Sainte-Rose as well as the border between the districts au vent (windward) and sous le vent (leeward). The stone was located in the Grand-Brûlé (lit., the great burned [place]), the area periodically hit by lava flowing down from Piton de la Fournaise, and was destroyed during the 2001 eruption. The Grand Brûlé is crossed by the circular coastal road, which was achieved there only in 1968 and is often cut by the volcano. In 1986, the lava flows destroyed eight houses and hundreds of hectares of crops and forests, also contributing to an increase in the area of the municipality of Saint-Philippe and the Reunion island.

At the end of the 18th century, the botanist Joseph Hubert started in Saint-Philippe the cultivation of overpriced spicy plants such as nutmeg tree and clove tree, which were at that time grown only in the Moluccas islands (today in Indonesia).
The territory of the municipality is made of basaltic rocks of various age and fertility, which explains the great diversity of the vegetation. The primary forest has been preserved on the volcano and its foothills, whereas the coastal forests have been thinned out by human activities. Since the volcano is still active, some lands are made of recent lava flows, which harbour a specific vegetation. The western part of the municipality is devoted to agriculture, the two main productions being sugarcane and vanilla, which grows as a liana on beefwoods. The forest of Mare-Longue and the Garden of Perfumes and Spices are two botanical sites of main interest.
The climate of Saint-Philippe also favoured the introduction of the maritime tree vacoas. The leaves of the vacoas are locally used for weaving hats, baskets, mats etc..

The French navy set up a port between the villages of Le Baril and Saint-Philippe. This port was probably the second oldest port on the southern shore of the island after Saint-Pierre, the capital city of the Reunion.

Source: Mi-aime-a-ou website

Ivan Sache, 15 July 2004

Flag of Saint-Philippe

The municipal flag of Saint-Philippe is white with the municipal coat of arms in the middle and the name of the municipality written in black letters above the shield. It can be seen flying in front of the town hall of Saint-Philippe.
The municipal coat of arms of Saint-Philippe shows in dexter a white dolphin on white and blue waves, on sinister a black erupting volcano over the blue sea, and in point a yellow canvas on a green field, symbolizing the maritime history, the volcano and the vacoa weaving, respectively.

Source: Mi-aime-a-ou website

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 15 July 2004