Austral Islands

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Coordinates: 23°0′S150°0′W / 23.000°S 150.000°W / -23.000; -150.000

Geographic coordinate system Coordinate system

A geographic coordinate system is a coordinate system that enables every location on Earth to be specified by a set of numbers, letters or symbols. The coordinates are often chosen such that one of the numbers represents a vertical position and two or three of the numbers represent a horizontal position; alternatively, a geographic position may be expressed in a combined three-dimensional Cartesian vector. A common choice of coordinates is latitude, longitude and elevation. To specify a location on a plane requires a map projection.


Tuha'a Pae
Native name:
Îles Australes
Flag of the Austral Islands.svg
French Polynesia-CIA WFB Map.png
Location Pacific Ocean
Archipelago Polynesia
Total islands7
Major islands Tupua'i, Rūrutu, Ra'ivāvae, Rapa Iti
Area148 km2 (57 sq mi)
Overseas collectivity French Polynesia
Largest settlement Rūrutu (pop. 2,322)
Population6,820 [1] (2012)
Pop. density43 /km2 (111 /sq mi)
Map of the Austral Islands Karta FP Austral isl.PNG
Map of the Austral Islands

The Tuha'a Pae, or Austral Islands (French : Îles Australes or Archipel des Australes), are the southernmost group of islands in French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the South Pacific. Geographically, they consist of two separate archipelagos, namely in the northwest the Tupua'i islands (French : Îles Tubuaï) consisting of the Îles Maria, Rimatara, Rūrutu, Tupua'i Island proper and Ra'ivāvae, and in the southeast the Bass Islands (French : Îles basses) composed of the main island of Rapa Iti and the small Marotiri (also known as Bass Rocks or Îlots de Bass). Inhabitants of the islands are known for their pandanus fiber weaving skills. [2] 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 about 6,300 on almost 150 km2 (58 sq mi). The capital of the Austral Islands administrative subdivision is Tupua'i.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

French Polynesia French overseas country in the Southern Pacific ocean

French Polynesia is an overseas collectivity of the French Republic and the only overseas country of France. 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).

The French overseas collectivities, like the French regions, are first-order administrative divisions of France, but have a semi-autonomous status. The COMs include some former French overseas colonies and other French overseas entities with a particular status, all of which became COMs by constitutional reform on 28 March 2003. The COMs should not be confused with the overseas regions and overseas departments, which have the same status as Mainland France but are just located outside Europe. As integral parts of France, overseas collectivities are represented in the National Assembly, Senate and Economic and Social Council. Only one COM, Saint Martin, is part of the European Union and can vote to elect members of the European Parliament (MEPs). The Pacific COMs use the CFP franc, a currency pegged to the euro, whereas the Atlantic COMs use the euro directly. As of 31 March 2011, there were five COMs:


Whaling vessels were among the earliest and most consistent visitors to the islands in the 19th century. The first such vessel for which a record exists is the New Hazard in 1813. [3] These ships came for fresh drinking water, firewood and food provisions. Sometimes they also took aboard islanders to serve as crewmen on their ships.[ citation needed ]

Whaling hunting of whales

Whaling is the hunting of whales for their usable products such as meat and blubber, which can be turned into a type of oil which became increasingly important in the Industrial Revolution. It was practiced as an organized industry as early as 875 AD. By the 16th century, it had risen to be the principle industry in the coastal regions of Spain and France. The industry spread throughout the world, and became increasingly profitable in terms of trade and resources. Some regions of the world's oceans, along the animals' migration routes, had a particularly dense whale population, and became the targets for large concentrations of whaling ships, and the industry continued to grow well into the 20th century. The depletion of some whale species to near extinction led to the banning of whaling in many countries by 1969, and to a worldwide cessation of whaling as an industry in the late 1980s. The earliest forms of whaling date to at least circa 3000 BC. Coastal communities around the world have long histories of subsistence use of cetaceans, by dolphin drive hunting and by harvesting drift whales. Industrial whaling emerged with organized fleets of whaleships in the 17th century; competitive national whaling industries in the 18th and 19th centuries; and the introduction of factory ships along with the concept of whale harvesting in the first half of the 20th century. By the late 1930s more than 50,000 whales were killed annually. In 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling because of the extreme depletion of most of the whale stocks.


The Tuha'a Pae or Austral Islands (French : Îles Australes or Archipel des Australes) are the southernmost group of islands in French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the South Pacific. Geographically, the Austral Islands consist of two separate archipelagos. From northwest to southeast they are:

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Oceania geographic region comprising Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia

Oceania is a geographic region comprising Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Spanning the eastern and western hemispheres, Oceania covers an area of 8,525,989 square kilometres (3,291,903 sq mi) and has a population of 40 million. Situated in the southeast of the Asia-Pacific region, Oceania, when compared to continental regions, is the smallest in land area and the second smallest in population after Antarctica.

Îles Maria archipelago in French Polynesia

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

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.

Rapa Iti Commune in French Polynesia, France

Rapa, sometimes called Rapa Iti, is the largest and only inhabited island of the Bass Islands in French Polynesia. An older name for the island is Oparo. The total land area including offshore islets is 40.5 km2 (15.6 sq mi). At the 2017 census it had a population of 507. The island rises to 650 metres (2,130 ft) elevation at Mont Perahu. Its main town is Ahuréi.

The islands of Maria and Marotiri are not suitable for sustained habitation. Several of the islands have uninhabited islets or rocks off their coastlines.

The chain is associated with the Macdonald hotspot. The only active volcano is the Macdonald seamount (40m depth). [4]

In administrative terms, the Austral Islands (including the Bass Islands) constitute an administrative subdivision, the Tuha'a Pae or Austral Islands (subdivision administrative des (Îles) Australes), one of French Polynesia's five administrative subdivisions (subdivision administratives). Geographically, the administrative subdivision of the Austral Islands is identical with the constituency of the Austral Islands (circonscription des Îles Australes), one of French Polynesia's six constituencies (circonscriptions électorales) for the Assembly of French Polynesia.

The capital of the Austral Islands administrative subdivision is Tupua'i.

See also

Related Research Articles

Politics of French Polynesia

Politics of French Polynesia takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic French overseas collectivity, whereby the President of French Polynesia is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Assembly of French Polynesia.

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 state flag of the French overseas collectivity French Polynesia. It was adopted in 1984.

Marotiri island in French Polynesia

Marotiri is a group of four uninhabited volcanic rocks protruding from the sea, forming the southeastern end of the Austral Islands of French Polynesia. Marotiri is also known as Bass Rocks, maybe according to the name of the European explorer George Bass. Marotiri is very isolated, located about 1,167 km (725 mi) west-south-westward of Pitcairn Island. The closest island is Rapa Iti, 75 km farther northwest, but separated from it by an ocean depth of more than 1,500 meters. The rocks are part of the municipality of Rapa.

Bass Islands (French Polynesia)

The Bass Islands consist primarily of Rapa Iti and Marotiri. They are usually considered to be the southernmost of the Austral Islands, although this classification is more one of geographic and political expediency than because of similarities between them and the rest of the Austral Islands. The Bass Islands, lying several degrees outside the tropics, are the southernmost islands in French Polynesia.

Air Tahiti is a French airline company which operates in French Polynesia, France. Its principal base is Faa'a International Airport.

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.

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.

Index of French Polynesia-related articles Wikimedia list article

This page list topics related to French Polynesia.

Robert Bollt was an American archaeologist, specializing in Pacific Archaeology.

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.

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.

Tamaeva IV Queen of Rimatara

Tamaeva IV was the reigning queen of the Polynesian island of Rimatara who ruled from 1876 until her death in 1892. French sources refer to her as Temaeva, and one Australian newspaper called her Te Maere, while her tombstone in Rimatara gives her name as Tamaeva.

Flag of the Austral Islands

The Flag of the Austral Islands is the flag of the Austral Islands of French Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean administered by France.


  1. Institut Statistique de Polynésie Française (ISPF). "Recensement de la population 2012" (in French). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-02-02. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
  2. "Australs Resorts". Tahiti Travel Planners. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  3. Rober Langdon (ed.), Where the whalers went: an index to the Pacific ports and islands visited by American whalers (and some other ships) in the 19th century, (1984), Canberra, Pacfic Manuscripts Bureau, p.1. ISBN   0-86784-471-X
  4. Gillespie, Rosemary G.; David A. Clague (2009). Encyclopedia of Islands. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. p. 342. ISBN   9780520256491 . Retrieved 7 May 2013.