Îles Maria

Last updated
Îles Maria
Native name:
Iles Maria (ISS013-E-5001).jpg
NASA picture of Îles Maria
Polynesie francaise collectivity location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Îles Maria
Location Pacific Ocean
Coordinates 21°48′S154°41′W / 21.800°S 154.683°W / -21.800; -154.683 Coordinates: 21°48′S154°41′W / 21.800°S 154.683°W / -21.800; -154.683
Archipelago Australes
Total islands4
Area1.9 km2 (0.73 sq mi)
Overseas collectivity French Polynesia
Administrative subdivision Australes
Commune Rimatara
PopulationUninhabited [1] (2012)

Îles Maria or simply Maria, also known as Hull Island, [2] is a small coral atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Its original name is Nororotu. The nearest island is Rimatara situated 205 kilometres (127 miles) to the ESE.

Pacific Ocean Ocean between Asia and Australia in the west, the Americas in the east and Antarctica or the Southern Ocean in the south.

The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south and is bounded by Asia and Australia in the west and the Americas in the east.

Rimatara Commune in French Polynesia, France

Rimatara is the westernmost inhabited island in the Austral Islands of French Polynesia. It is located 550 km (340 mi) south of Tahiti and 150 km (93 mi) west of Rurutu. The land area of Rimatara is 8.6 km2 (3.3 sq mi), and that of the Maria islets is 1.3 km2 (0.50 sq mi). Its highest point is 106 m (348 ft). Its population was 872 at the 2017 census.


The atoll consists of four islets (îles), with a dense atoll forest [3] and a very shallow lagoon, supporting numerous bird species. [4] The atoll is uninhabited now, but at one time was the site of a penal colony. [5] Copra is occasionally harvested at the island. [4]

Penal colony remote settlement used to house convicts from the general population

A penal colony or exile colony is a settlement used to exile prisoners and separate them from the general population by placing them in a remote location, often an island or distant colonial territory. Although the term can be used to refer to a correctional facility located in a remote location it is more commonly used to refer to communities of prisoners overseen by wardens or governors having absolute authority.


Copra is the dried meat or kernel of the coconut, which is the fruit of the coconut palm. Coconut oil is extracted from copra, making it an important agricultural commodity for many coconut-producing countries. It also yields de-fatted coconut cake after oil extraction, which is mainly used as feed for livestock.

The four islands are:

  1. Île du Sud
  2. Île Centrale
  3. Île de l' Ouest
  4. Île du Nordêt

The Îles Maria should not be confused with Maria Atoll in the Gambier Islands, also in French Polynesia, which is sometimes differentiated with the name "Maria Est" (East). [6] There is also another island once known as Hull Island in the Phoenix Islands, which is now known as Orona.

Maria Est island in French Polynesia

Maria Atoll is an uninhabited small atoll of the Tuamotu group in French Polynesia. It is located in the far southeast of the archipelago, about 72 km (45 mi) southwest from Marutea Sud. Maria's closest neighbour is the small atoll of Matureivavao of the Acteon Group, 56 km (35 mi) to the northwest.

Gambier Islands Islands in France

The Gambier Islands are a populated, small group of islands, remnants of a caldera along with islets on the surrounding fringing reef, in French Polynesia, located at the southeast terminus of the Tuamotu archipelago. They are generally considered a separate island group from Tuamotu both because their culture and language (Mangarevan) are much more closely related to those of the Marquesas Islands, and because, while the Tuamotus comprise several chains of coral atolls, the Gambiers are of volcanic origin with central high islands.

Phoenix Islands archipelago

The Phoenix Islands or Rawaki are a group of eight atolls and two submerged coral reefs, lying in the central Pacific Ocean east of the Gilbert Islands and west of the Line Islands. They are a part of the Republic of Kiribati. During the late 1930s, they became the site of the last attempted colonial expansion of the British Empire through the Phoenix Islands Settlement Scheme. The Phoenix Islands Protected Area, established in 2008, is one of the world's largest protected areas, and home to some 120 species of coral and more than 500 species of fish.


Another NASA image Iles Maria.JPG
Another NASA image

According to Polynesian legend, the uninhabited island was discovered by Chief Ama'itera'i of Rurutu in ancient times. [7] :558 It was made a place of exile by King Teuruarii IV and his mother and regent Taarouru. [8] :138 The island was also claimed by the neighboring island kingdom of Rimatara. The territorial dispute wouldn't be settled until 1937, when two of the four atolls were awarded to each party. [9] :108–109 This atoll is named for the whaler Maria, who sighted the island in 1824, [4] It was captained by George Washington Gardner, a Nantucket sea captain (1778-1838). [10]

Rurutu Commune in French Polynesia, France

Rurutu is the northernmost island in the Austral archipelago of French Polynesia, and the name of a commune consisting solely of that island. It is situated 572 km (355 mi) south of Tahiti. Its land area is 32.7 km2 (12.6 sq mi). It is 10.8 km long and 5.3 km wide. Its highest point (Manureva) is 389 m (1,276 ft). At the 2017 census it had a population of 2,466.

Teuruarii IV King of Rurutu

Teuruarii IV, born Epatiana a Teuruarii, was the last King of Rurutu, an island within the larger Austral Islands archipelago, who ruled from around 1886 until the annexation of the island to France in 1900. Proclaimed king upon his father's abdication while still a child, his mother ruled as regent. During this regency the Church of Moerari was consecrated and the death penalty was abolished.

Whaler specialized ship designed for whaling

A whaler or whaling ship is a specialized ship, designed, or adapted, for whaling: the catching or processing of whales. The former includes the whale catcher – a steam or diesel-driven vessel with a harpoon gun mounted at its bow. The latter includes such vessels as the sail or steam-driven whaleship of the 16th to early 20th centuries and the floating factory or factory ship of the modern era. There have also been vessels which combined the two activities, such as the bottlenose whalers of the late 19th and early 20th century, and catcher/factory ships of the modern era.


The atoll Îles Maria is administratively part of Rimatara commune (municipality) in the Tubuai (Austral Islands) division of French Polynesia.

French Polynesia French overseas country in the Southern Pacific ocean

French Polynesia is an overseas collectivity of the French Republic and its sole overseas country. It is composed of 118 geographically dispersed islands and atolls stretching over an expanse of more than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) in the South Pacific Ocean. Its total land area is 4,167 square kilometres (1,609 sq mi).

Related Research Articles

Tubuai Commune in French Polynesia, France

Tubuai or Tupua'i is the main island of the Tubuai Island group, located at 23°23′00″S149°27′00″W, 640 km (400 mi) south of Tahiti. In addition to Tubuai, the group of islands include Rimatara, Rurutu, Raivavae and the uninhabited Îles Maria. They are part of the Austral Islands in the far southwest of French Polynesia in the south Pacific Ocean. Tubuai island sustains a population of 2,217 people on 45 km² of land. Due to its southerly position, Tubuai has notably cooler weather than Tahiti.

Flag of French Polynesia flag

The flag of French Polynesia is the civil and state flag of the French overseas country French Polynesia. It was adopted in 1984.

Austral Islands archipelago

The Austral Islands are the southernmost group of islands in French Polynesia, an overseas country of the French Republic in the South Pacific. Geographically, they consist of two separate archipelagos, namely in the northwest the Tupua'i islands consisting of the Îles Maria, Rimatara, Rūrutu, Tupua'i Island proper and Ra'ivāvae, and in the southeast the Bass Islands composed of the main island of Rapa Iti and the small Marotiri. Inhabitants of the islands are known for their pandanus fiber weaving skills. The islands of Maria and Marotiri are not suitable for sustained habitation. Several of the islands have uninhabited islets or rocks off their coastlines. Austral Islands' population is 6,965 on almost 150 km2 (58 sq mi). The capital of the Austral Islands administrative subdivision is Tupua'i.

Hao (French Polynesia) Commune in French Polynesia, France

Hao, or Haorangi, is a large coral atoll in the central part of the Tuamotu Archipelago. It has c. 1000 people living on 35 km². It was used to house the military support base for the nuclear tests on Mururoa. Because of its shape, French explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville named it "Île de la Harpe".

Windward Islands (Society Islands) the eastern group of the Society Islands in French Polynesia

The Windward Islands are the eastern group of the Society Islands in French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the southern Pacific Ocean. These islands were also previously named the Georgian Islands in honor of King George III of the United Kingdom.

Anaa Commune in French Polynesia, France

Anaa, Nganaa-nui is an atoll in the Tuamotu archipelago, in French Polynesia. It is located in the north-west of the archipelago, 350 km to the east of Tahiti. It is oval in shape, 29.5 km in length and 6.5 km wide, with a total land area of 38 km² and a population of 504. The atoll is made up by eleven small barren islands with deeper and more fertile soil than other atolls in the Tuamotus. The lagoon is shallow, without entrance, and formed by three main basins. Although it does not have any navigable access, the water of the lagoon renews by several small channels that can be crossed walking.

Austral is an endangered Polynesian language that is spoken by approximately 8,000 people (1987). It is spoken only on the Austral Islands and the Society Islands of French Polynesia. The language is also referred to as Tubuai-Rurutu, Tubuai, Rurutu-Tupuai, or Tupuai. In structure, it is similarly compared to Tahitian.

Glochidion raivavense, also known by its synonym Phyllanthus raivavense or by the local name mahame on the island of Tubuai, is a species of plant in the Phyllanthaceae family. It is endemic to the Austral Islands in French Polynesia, where it is native to the islands of Rurutu, Tubuai, and Raivavae.

Maupiti (commune) Commune in French Polynesia, France

Maupiti is a commune of French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. The commune is in the administrative subdivision of the Leeward Islands.

Arutua Commune in French Polynesia, France

Arutua, or Ngaru-atua is an atoll in the Tuamotu group in French Polynesia. It is located 40 km SW of Rangiroa. The closest land is Apataki Atoll, only 16 km to the East.

Tatakoto Commune in French Polynesia, France

Tatakoto is an atoll in the Tuamotu group in French Polynesia.

Anuanuraro island in French Polynesia

Anuanuraro is an atoll in French Polynesia, Pacific Ocean. It is part of the Duke of Gloucester Islands, a subgroup of the Tuamotu group. Anuanuraro's nearest neighbor is Anuanurunga, which is located about 29 km to the southeast.

Nukutepipi island in French Polynesia

Nukutepipi, or Nuku-te-pipi is an atoll in French Polynesia, Pacific Ocean. It is part of the Duke of Gloucester Islands, a subgroup of the Tuamotu group. Nukutepipi's nearest neighbor is Anuanurunga, which is located about 22 km to the WNW.

Tamaeva V politician

Tamaeva V or Temaeva V, formally Heimataura Tamatoa Tamaeva V, was the Arii vahine no Rimatara or queen of the island kingdom of Rimatara from 1892 to 1901. Her reign came to an end with the formal annexation of Rimatara to France. She was responsible for saving the Rimatara lorikeet from extinction during the early 20th century.

Fakarava (commune) Commune in French Polynesia, France

Fakarava is a commune of French Polynesia in the archipelago of the Tuamotu Islands. The commune is in the administrative subdivision of the Îles Tuamotu-Gambier. The commune includes seven islands. The chef-lieu is the village Rotoava.

Gambier (commune) Commune in French Polynesia, France

Gambier is a commune of French Polynesia in the archipelago of the Tuamotu Islands. The commune includes the Gambier Islands and several nearby groups of islands, including the Acteon Group, and the nearby atolls of Maria Est, Morane, Marutea Sud and Temoe, mostly uninhabited, and are sometimes mistakenly included among the Gambier Islands themselves. Its population was 1,535 at the 2017 census. Its total land area is 46.0 km2.


  1. "Population". Institut de la statistique de la Polynésie française. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  2. "13. South and Southeast". Vikings of the Sunrise. New Zealand Electronic Text Center. Retrieved 2007-09-06.
  3. "Tubuai tropical moist forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved 2007-09-06.
  4. 1 2 3 Hilary Rodgers; Tony Wheeler; Jean-Bernard Carillet (2003). Tahiti & French Polynesia. Lonely Planet. ISBN   1-74059-229-8.
  5. "Îles Maria". UN Systemwide Earthwatch Site . United Nations Environment Programme . Retrieved 2007-09-06.
  6. "Tuamotu Archipelago - Maria". Oceandots.com. Archived from the original on 2010-12-23. Retrieved 2009-03-14.
  7. Patrick O'Reilly, ed. (1975). Tahitiens: répertoire bio-bibliographique de la Polynésie Française. Musée de l'Homme. pp. 557–558.
  8. Michel Brun; Edgar Tetahiotupa (2007). Eteroa: mythes, légendes et traditions d'une île polynésienne. Gallimard. ISBN   2070777081.
  9. Pierre Vérin (1964). "Notes socio-économiques sur l'île de Rurutu (Polynésie Française)". In Institut de science économique appliquée l (ed.). Cahiers: Humanités, économie, ethnologie, sociologie, Issue 7. Presses Universitaires de France. pp. 99–133.
  10. Dunmore, John (1992); Who's Who in Pacific Navigation, Australia:Melbourne University Press, ISBN   0-522-84488-X, pp114-115
Wayback Machine Web archive service

The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the World Wide Web and other information on the Internet. It was launched in 2001 by the Internet Archive, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California, United States.