Reunion is a French overseas territory located in the Indian Ocean, east of the island of Madagascar. The Portuguese discovered the uninhabited island in 1513. From the 17th to the 19th centuries, French immigration supplemented by influxes of Africans, Chinese, Malays and Malabar Indians gave the island its ethnic mix. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 cost the island its importance as a stopover on the East Indies trade route. Although remote from mainland France (France métropolitaine), Réunion nonetheless officially forms an integral part of the Republic, representing its own département.