French Polynesia

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French Polynesia

Polynésie française  (French)
Pōrīnetia Farāni  (Tahitian)
"Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité" (French)
(English: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity")
Territorial motto: "Tahiti Nui Māre'are'a" (Tahitian)
(English: "Great Tahiti of the Golden Haze")
Anthem: "La Marseillaise"
Territorial anthem: "Ia Ora 'O Tahiti Nui"
French Polynesia on the globe (French Polynesia centered).svg
Location of French Polynesia (circled in red)
Sovereign state France
Protectorate proclaimed9 September 1842
Territorial status27 October 1946
Collectivity status28 March 2003
Country status27 February 2004
Capital Papeete
17°34′S149°36′W / 17.567°S 149.600°W / -17.567; -149.600
Largest city Fa'a'ā
Official languages French
Recognised regional languages
Ethnic groups
66.5% Polynesians
16.4% Euronesians
11.9% Europeans
4.7% East Asians [1]
Demonym(s) French Polynesian
Government Devolved parliamentary dependency
Emmanuel Macron
Édouard Fritch
Dominique Sorain
Legislature Assembly of French Polynesia
4,167 km2 (1,609 sq mi)
3,521.2 km2 (1,359.5 sq mi)
 Water (%)
 2017 census
275,918 [2] (177th)
78/km2 (202.0/sq mi)(130th)
GDP  (nominal)2018 estimate
US$6.163 billion [3]
Currency CFP franc (XPF)
Time zone
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy
Mains electricity
  • 110 V–60 Hz
  • 220 V–60 Hz
Driving side right
Calling code +689
ISO 3166 code
Internet TLD .pf
A two-franc World War II emergency-issue banknote (1943), printed in Papeete, and depicting the outline of Tahiti on the reverse FRE-OCE-12-French Oceania-2 francs (1943).jpg
A two-franc World War II emergency-issue banknote (1943), printed in Papeete, and depicting the outline of Tahiti on the reverse

French Polynesia ( /ˈfrɛnpɒlɪˈnʒə/ ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); French : Polynésie française [pɔlinezi fʁɑ̃sɛːz] ; Tahitian : Pōrīnetia Farāni) 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).

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.

Tahitian is a Polynesian language, spoken mainly on the Society Islands in French Polynesia. It belongs to the Eastern Polynesian group.

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:


French Polynesia is divided into five groups of islands: the Society Islands archipelago, composed of the Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands; the Tuamotu Archipelago; the Gambier Islands; the Marquesas Islands; and the Austral Islands. Among its 118 islands and atolls, 67 are inhabited. Tahiti, which is located within the Society Islands, is the most populous island, having close to 69% of the population of French Polynesia as of 2017. Papeete, located on Tahiti, is the capital. Although not an integral part of its territory, Clipperton Island was administered from French Polynesia until 2007.

Society Islands archipelago of French Polynesia

The Society Islands are an archipelago located in the South Pacific Ocean. Politically, they are part of French Polynesia, an overseas country of the French Republic. Geographically, they form part of Polynesia.

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.

Leeward Islands (Society Islands) archipelago in French Polynesia

The Leeward Islands are the western part of the Society Islands in French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the South Pacific. They lie south of the Line Islands, east of the Cooks and north of the Austral Islands. Their area is 395 km² with a population of over 33,000. The islands to the west comprise a three atoll group: Manuae, Motu One atoll, lying most northerly of the Leeward Islands, and to the southeast Maupihaa atoll. More to the east lies a mainly high island cluster consisting of Maupiti, Tupai atoll, Bora Bora, the most known of the Leeward Islands in the western world due to its World War II United States naval base and subsequent tourism industry, Taha'a, lying just north of the largest island of the group, Raiatea which possesses the largest city and local capital of the Leeward Islands, namely Uturoa, as well as the highest elevation, the just over 1,000 m mount Tefatua, and finally the easternmost island of the group, Huahine which at high tide is divided into two: Huahine Nui to the north and Huahine Iti to the south.

Following the Great Polynesian Migration, European explorers visited the islands of French Polynesia on several occasions. Traders and whaling ships also visited. In 1842, the French took over the islands and established a French protectorate they called Établissements français d'Océanie (EFO) (French Establishments/Settlements of Oceania).

A protectorate, in its inception adopted by modern international law, is a dependent territory that has been granted local autonomy and some independence while still retaining the suzerainty of a greater sovereign state. In exchange for this, the protectorate usually accepts specified obligations, which may vary greatly, depending on the real nature of their relationship. Therefore, a protectorate remains an autonomous part of a sovereign state. They are different from colonies as they have local rulers and people ruling over the territory and experience rare cases of immigration of settlers from the country it has suzerainty of. However, a state which remains under the protection of another state but still retains independence is known as a protected state and is different from protectorates.

In 1946, the EFO became an overseas territory under the constitution of the French Fourth Republic, and Polynesians were granted the right to vote through citizenship. In 1957, the EFO were renamed French Polynesia. In 1983 French Polynesia became a member of the Pacific Community, a regional development organization. Since 28 March 2003, French Polynesia has been an overseas collectivity of the French Republic under the constitutional revision of article 74, and later gained, with law 2004-192 of 27 February 2004, an administrative autonomy, two symbolic manifestations of which are the title of the President of French Polynesia and its additional designation as an overseas country. [4]

The term overseas territory is an administrative division of France and is currently only applied to the French Southern and Antarctic Lands.

French Fourth Republic government of France between 1946 and 1958

The French Fourth Republic was the republican government of France between 1946 and 1958, governed by the fourth republican constitution. It was in many ways a revival of the Third Republic that was in place from 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War to 1940 during World War II, and suffered many of the same problems. France adopted the constitution of the Fourth Republic on 13 October 1946.

Pacific Community principal scientific and technical organisation in the Pacific region

The Pacific Community (SPC) is an international development organisation owned and governed by its 26 country and territory members. The organisation's headquarters are in Nouméa, New Caledonia, and it has regional offices in Suva, Fiji, and Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, as well as a country office in Honiara, Solomon Islands, and field staff in other Pacific locations. Its working languages are English and French.


The French frigate Floreal in November 2002, stationed in Bora Bora lagoon Floreal-Bora-Bora.jpg
The French frigate Floréal in November 2002, stationed in Bora Bora lagoon

Scientists believe the Great Polynesian Migration happened around 1500 BC as Austronesian peoples went on a journey using celestial navigation to find islands in the South Pacific Ocean. The first islands of French Polynesia to be settled were the Marquesas Islands in about 200 BC. The Polynesians later ventured southwest and discovered the Society Islands around AD 300. [5]

Austronesian peoples ethnic group

The Austronesian peoples, or more accurately Austronesian-speaking peoples, are a large group of various peoples in Southeast Asia, Taiwan, Oceania and Madagascar that speak the Austronesian languages. The nations and territories predominantly populated by Austronesian-speaking peoples are known collectively as Austronesia.

European encounters began in 1521 when Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, sailing at the service of the Spanish Crown, sighted Puka-Puka in the Tuāmotu-Gambier Archipelago. In 1606 another Spanish expedition under Pedro Fernandes de Queirós sailed through Polynesia sighting an inhabited island on 10 February [6] which they called Sagitaria (or Sagittaria), probably the island of Rekareka to the southeast of Tahiti. [7]

Ferdinand Magellan Portuguese explorer in the service of Spain

Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer who organised the Spanish expedition to the East Indies from 1519 to 1522, resulting in the first circumnavigation of the Earth, completed by Juan Sebastián Elcano.

Monarchy of Spain ruling monarchy in the Kingdom of Spain since the arrival of Felipe V

The monarchy of Spain, constitutionally referred to as The Crown, is a constitutional institution and the highest office of Spain. The monarchy comprises the reigning monarch, his or her family, and the royal household organization which supports and facilitates the monarch in the exercise of his duties and prerogatives. The Spanish monarchy is currently represented by King Felipe VI, Queen Letizia, and their daughters Leonor, Princess of Asturias, and Infanta Sofía.

Puka-Puka Commune in French Polynesia, France

Puka-Puka is a small coral atoll in the north-eastern Tuamotu Archipelago, sometimes included as a member of the Disappointment Islands. This atoll is quite isolated, the nearest land being Fakahina, located 182 km to the southwest.

Over a century later, British explorer Samuel Wallis visited Tahiti in 1767. French explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville also visited Tahiti in 1768, while British explorer James Cook arrived in 1769. [5] In 1772, the Spanish Viceroy of Peru Don Manuel de Amat ordered a number of expeditions to Tahiti under the command of Domingo de Bonechea who was the first European to explore all of the main islands beyond Tahiti. [8] A short-lived Spanish settlement was created in 1774, [5] and for a time some maps bore the name Isla de Amat after Viceroy Amat. [9] In 1772, Dutchman Jakob Roggeveen came across Bora Bora in the Society Islands. Christian missions began with Spanish priests who stayed in Tahiti for a year. Protestants from the London Missionary Society settled permanently in Polynesia in 1797.

Society Island kingdoms Society kingdoms.svg
Society Island kingdoms

King Pōmare II of Tahiti was forced to flee to Mo'orea in 1803; he and his subjects were converted to Protestantism in 1812. French Catholic missionaries arrived on Tahiti in 1834; their expulsion in 1836 caused France to send a gunboat in 1838. In 1842, Tahiti and Tahuata were declared a French protectorate, to allow Catholic missionaries to work undisturbed. The capital of Papeetē was founded in 1843. In 1880, France annexed Tahiti, changing the status from that of a protectorate to that of a colony. The island groups were not officially united until the establishment of the French protectorate in 1889. [10]

After France declared a protectorate over Tahiti in 1840, the British and French signed the Jarnac Convention in 1847, declaring that the kingdoms of Raiatea, Huahine and Bora Bora were to remain independent from either powers and that no single chief was to be allowed to reign over the entire archipelago. France eventually broke the agreement, and the islands were annexed and became a colony in 1888 (eight years after the Windward Islands) after many native resistances and conflicts called the Leewards War, lasting until 1897. [11] [12]

In the 1880s, France claimed the Tuamotu Archipelago, which formerly belonged to the Pōmare Dynasty, without formally annexing it. Having declared a protectorate over Tahuata in 1842, the French regarded the entire Marquesas Islands as French. In 1885, France appointed a governor and established a general council, thus giving it the proper administration for a colony. The islands of Rimatara and Rūrutu unsuccessfully lobbied for British protection in 1888, so in 1889 they were annexed by France. Postage stamps were first issued in the colony in 1892. The first official name for the colony was Établissements de l'Océanie (Establishments in Oceania); in 1903 the general council was changed to an advisory council and the colony's name was changed to Établissements Français de l'Océanie (French Establishments in Oceania). [13]

In 1940, the administration of French Polynesia recognised the Free French Forces and many Polynesians served in World War II. Unknown at the time to the French and Polynesians, the Konoe Cabinet in Imperial Japan on 16 September 1940 included French Polynesia among the many territories which were to become Japanese possessions, as part of the "Eastern Pacific Government-General" in the post-war world. [14] However, in the course of the war in the Pacific the Japanese were not able to launch an actual invasion of the French islands.

In 1946, Polynesians were granted French citizenship and the islands' status was changed to an overseas territory; the islands' name was changed in 1957 to Polynésie Française (French Polynesia). In 1962, France's early nuclear testing ground of Algeria became independent and the Moruroa atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago was selected as the new testing site; tests were conducted underground after 1974. [15] In 1977, French Polynesia was granted partial internal autonomy; in 1984, the autonomy was extended. French Polynesia became a full overseas collectivity of France in 2003. [16]

In September 1995, France stirred up widespread protests by resuming nuclear testing at Fangataufa atoll after a three-year moratorium. The last test was on 27 January 1996. On 29 January 1996, France announced that it would accede to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and no longer test nuclear weapons. [17]

French Polynesia was relisted in the UN List of Non-Self Governing Territories in 2013, making it eligible for a UN-backed independence referendum. The relisting was made after the indigenous opposition was voiced and supported by the Polynesian Leaders Group, Pacific Conference of Churches, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Non-Aligned Movement, World Council of Churches, and Melanesian Spearhead Group. [18]


Under the terms of Article 74 of the French constitution and the Organic Law 2014-192 on the statute of autonomy 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 (the territorial assembly).

Political life in French Polynesia has been marked by great instability since the mid-2000s. On 14 September 2007, the pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru, was elected president of French Polynesia for the third time in three years (with 27 of 44 votes cast in the territorial assembly). [19] He replaced former president Gaston Tong Sang, opposed to independence, who lost a no-confidence vote in the Assembly of French Polynesia on 31 August after the longtime former president of French Polynesia, Gaston Flosse, hitherto opposed to independence, sided with his long enemy Oscar Temaru to topple the government of Gaston Tong Sang. Oscar Temaru, however, had no stable majority in the Assembly of French Polynesia, and new territorial elections were held in February 2008 to solve the political crisis.

The Assembly of French Polynesia Assemblee de Polynesie.JPG
The Assembly of French Polynesia

The party of Gaston Tong Sang won the territorial elections, but that did not solve the political crisis: the two minority parties of Oscar Temaru and Gaston Flosse, who together have one more member in the territorial assembly than the political party of Gaston Tong Sang, allied to prevent Gaston Tong Sang from becoming president of French Polynesia. Gaston Flosse was then elected president of French Polynesia by the territorial assembly on 23 February 2008 with the support of the pro-independence party led by Oscar Temaru, while Oscar Temaru was elected speaker of the territorial assembly with the support of the anti-independence party led by Gaston Flosse. Both formed a coalition cabinet. Many observers doubted that the alliance between the anti-independence Gaston Flosse and the pro-independence Oscar Temaru, designed to prevent Gaston Tong Sang from becoming president of French Polynesia, could last very long. [20]

At the French municipal elections held in March 2008, several prominent mayors who are member of the Flosse-Temaru coalition lost their offices in key municipalities of French Polynesia, which was interpreted as a disapproval of the way Gaston Tong Sang, whose party French Polynesian voters had placed first in the territorial elections the month before, had been prevented from becoming president of French Polynesia by the last minute alliance between Flosse and Temaru's parties. Eventually, on 15 April 2008 the government of Gaston Flosse was toppled by a constructive vote of no confidence in the territorial assembly when two members of the Flosse-Temaru coalition left the coalition and sided with Tong Sang's party. Gaston Tong Sang was elected president of French Polynesia as a result of this constructive vote of no confidence, but his majority in the territorial assembly is very narrow. He offered posts in his cabinet to Flosse and Temaru's parties which they both refused. Gaston Tong Sang has called all parties to help end the instability in local politics, a prerequisite to attract foreign investors needed to develop the local economy.


Bora Bora Bora Bora, French Polynesia.jpg
Bora Bora

Between 1946 and 2003, French Polynesia had the status of an overseas territory ( territoire d'outre-mer , or TOM). In 2003, it became an overseas collectivity ( collectivité d'outre-mer , or COM). Its statutory law of 27 February 2004 gives it the particular designation of overseas country inside the Republic (pays d'outre-mer au sein de la République, or POM), but without legal modification of its status.

Relations with mainland France

High Commission of the French Fifth Republic Haut Commissariat a Papeete.JPG
High Commission of the French Fifth Republic

Despite a local assembly and government, French Polynesia is not in a free association with France, like the Cook Islands with New Zealand. As a French overseas collectivity, the local government has no competence in justice, university education, security and defense. Services in these areas are directly provided and administered by the Government of France, including the National Gendarmerie (which also polices rural and border areas in metropolitan France), and French military forces. The collectivity government retains control over primary and secondary education, health, town planning, and the environment. [21] The highest representative of the State in the territory is the High Commissioner of the Republic in French Polynesia (French : Haut commissaire de la République en Polynésie française).

French Polynesia also sends three deputies to the French National Assembly, one representing the Leeward Islands administrative subdivision and the south-western suburbs of Papeete, another one representing Papeete and its north-eastern suburbs, plus the commune (municipality) of Mo'orea-Mai'ao, the Tuāmotu-Gambier administrative division, and the Marquesas Islands administrative division, and the last one representing the rest of Tahiti and the Austral Islands administrative subdivision. French Polynesia also sends two senators to the French Senate.

French Polynesians vote in the French presidential elections. In the 2007 French presidential election, in which the pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru openly called to vote for the Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal while the parties opposed to independence generally supported the center-right candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, the turnout in French Polynesia was 69.12% in the first round of the election and 74.67% in the second round, both in favour of Sarkozy (as compared to Metropolitan France in the 2nd round: Nicolas Sarkozy 51.9%; Ségolène Royal 48.1%). [22]


Map of French Polynesia French Polynesia relief map.svg
Map of French Polynesia

The islands of French Polynesia make up a total land area of 3,521 square kilometres (1,359 sq mi), [23] scattered over more than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) of ocean. There are 118 islands in French Polynesia (and many more islets or motus around atolls). The highest point is Mount Orohena on Tahiti.

It is made up of six archipelagos. The largest and most populated island is Tahiti, in the Society Islands.

The archipelagos are :

Aside from Tahiti, some other important atolls, islands, and island groups in French Polynesia are: Ahē, Bora Bora, Hiva 'Oa, Huahine, Mai'ao, Maupiti, Meheti'a, Mo'orea, Nuku Hiva, Raiatea, Taha'a, Tetiaroa, Tupua'i, and Tūpai.

Top three largest communes
Fa'a'ā Tahiti 29,687
Punaauia Tahiti 27,613
Pape'ete Tahiti 25,769
Bora Bora, Leeward Islands BoraBora SEtienne.jpg
Bora Bora, Leeward Islands

Administrative divisions

French Polynesia has five administrative subdivisions (subdivisions administratives):


Tahitian girls, c. 1860-1879 Tahitiennes en robe mission.jpg
Tahitian girls, c. 1860–1879

Total population at the August 2017 census was 275,918 inhabitants. [2] At the 2017 census, 68.7% of the population of French Polynesia lived on the island of Tahiti alone. [2] The urban area of Papeete, the capital city, has 136,771 inhabitants (2017 census).

At the 2017 census, 89.0% of people living in French Polynesia were born in French Polynesia (up from 87.3% in 2007), 8.1% were born in metropolitan France (down from 9.3% in 2007), 1.2% were born in overseas France outside of French Polynesia (down from 1.4% in 2007), and 1.7% were born in foreign countries (down from 2.0% in 2007). [24] The population of natives of metropolitan France living in French Polynesia has declined in relative terms since the 1980s, but in absolute terms their population peaked at the 2007 census with 24,265 natives of metropolitan France living in French Polynesia that year (not counting their children born in French Polynesia). [25] With the local economic crisis, their population declined to 22,278 at the 2012 census, [25] and 22,387 at the 2017 census. [24]

Place of birth of residents of French Polynesia
(at the 1983, 1988, 1996, 2002, 2007, 2012, and 2017 censuses)
CensusBorn in
French Polynesia
Born in
Metropolitan France
Born in
Overseas France
Born in foreign
countries with French
citizenship at birth¹
¹Persons born abroad of French parents, such as Pieds-Noirs and children of French expatriates.
²An immigrant is by French definition a person born in a foreign country and who didn't have French citizenship at birth. Note that an immigrant may have acquired French citizenship since moving to France, but is still listed as an immigrant in French statistics. On the other hand, persons born in France with foreign citizenship (the children of immigrants) are not listed as immigrants.
Source: ISPF, [25] [24]

At the 1988 census, the last census which asked questions regarding ethnicity, 66.5% of people were ethnically unmixed Polynesians, 7.1% were ethnically Polynesians with light European and/or East Asian mixing, 11.9% were Europeans (mostly French), 9.3% were people of mixed European and Polynesian descent, the so-called Demis (literally meaning "Half"), and 4.7% were East Asians (mainly Chinese). [1]

Chinese, Demis, and the white populace are essentially concentrated on the island of Tahiti, particularly in the urban area of Papeete, where their share of the population is thus much greater than in French Polynesia overall. [1] Despite a long history of ethnic mixing, ethnic tensions have been growing in recent years, with politicians using a xenophobic discourse and fanning the flame of nationalism. [26] [27]

Historical population

Official figures from past censuses. [2] [28] [29] [30]



Cemetery in the Tuamotu TuamotuCemetery.jpg
Cemetery in the Tuāmotu

French is the only official language of French Polynesia. [31] An organic law of 12 April 1996 states that "French is the official language, Tahitian and other Polynesian languages can be used." At the 2017 census, among the population whose age was 15 and older, 73.9% of people reported that the language they spoke the most at home was French (up from 68.6% at the 2007 census), 20.2% reported that the language they spoke the most at home was Tahitian (down from 24.3% at the 2007 census), 2.6% reported Marquesan and 0.2% the related Mangareva language (same percentages for both at the 2007 census), 1.2% reported any of the Austral languages (down from 1.3% at the 2007 census), 1.0% reported Tuamotuan (down from 1.5% at the 2007 census), 0.6% reported a Chinese dialect (41% of which was Hakka) (down from 1.0% at the 2007 census), and 0.4% another language (more than half of which was English) (down from 0.5% at the 2007 census). [32]

At the same census, 95.2% of people whose age was 15 or older reported that they could speak, read and write French (up from 94.7% at the 2007 census), whereas only 1.3% reported that they had no knowledge of French (down from 2.0% at the 2007 census). [32] 86.5% of people whose age was 15 or older reported that they had some form of knowledge of at least one Polynesian language (up from 86.4% at the 2007 census but down from 87.8% at the 2012 census), whereas 13.5% reported that they had no knowledge of any of the Polynesian languages (down from 13.6% at the 2007 census but up from 12.2% at the 2012 census). [32]


French Polynesia came to the forefront of the world music scene in 1992,[ citation needed ] with the release of The Tahitian Choir's recordings of unaccompanied vocal Christian music called himene tārava, recorded by French musicologist Pascal Nabet-Meyer. This form of singing is common in French Polynesia and the Cook Islands, and is distinguished by a unique drop in pitch at the end of the phrases, which is a characteristic formed by several different voices; it is also accompanied by steady grunting of staccato, nonsensical syllables.


Christianity is the main religion of the islands. A majority of 54% belongs to various Protestant churches, especially the Maohi Protestant Church, which is the largest and accounts for more than 50% of the population. [33] It traces its origins to Pomare II, the king of Tahiti, who converted from traditional beliefs to the Reformed tradition brought to the islands by the London Missionary Society.

Latin rite Roman Catholics constitute a large minority with 30% of the population, which has its own ecclesiastical province, comprising the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Papeete and its only suffragan, the Diocese of Taiohae. [34] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had 25,841 members as of 2017. [35] Community of Christ, another denomination within the Latter-Day Saint tradition, claimed 7,990 total French Polynesian members as of 2015 [36] including Mareva Arnaud Tchong who serves in the church's governing Council of Twelve Apostles. There were about 3,000 Jehovah's Witnesses in Tahiti as of 2014. [37]


Va'a (traditional Polynesian outrigger canoe) during the Hawaiki Nui Va'a race Hawaiki Nui Va'a 4.jpg
Va'a (traditional Polynesian outrigger canoe) during the Hawaiki Nui Va'a race


The Polynesian traditional sport va'a is practiced in all the islands. French Polynesia hosts the Hawaiki nui va'a  [ fr ] an international race between Tahiti, Huahine and Bora Bora.


French Polynesia is famous for its reef break waves. Teahupo'o is probably the most renowned, regularly ranked in the best waves of the world. [38] This site hosts the annual Billabong Pro Tahiti surf competition, the 7th stop of the World Championship Tour.


There are many spots to practice kitesurfing in French Polynesia, with Tahiti, Moorea, Bora-Bora, Maupiti and Raivavae being among the most iconic. [39]

Fakarava atoll, south pass Fakarava Atoll Passe Sud.jpg
Fakarava atoll, south pass


French Polynesia is internationally known for diving. Each archipelago offers opportunities for divers. Rangiroa and Fakarava in the Tuamotu islands are the most famous spots in the area. [40]

Economy and infrastructure

Tourism is an important source of income for French Polynesia. DSC00033 Polynesia Morea island Haapiti Beach (8076090305).jpg
Tourism is an important source of income for French Polynesia.

The legal tender of French Polynesia is the CFP Franc which has a fixed exchange rate with the Euro. The nominal gross domestic product (or GDP) of French Polynesia in 2014 was 5.623 billion U.S. dollars at market local prices, the sixth-largest economy in Oceania after Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, New Caledonia, and Papua New Guinea. [41] The GDP per capita was $20,098 in 2014 (at market exchange rates, not at PPP), lower than in Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia, but higher than all the independent insular states of Oceania. Both per capita and total figures were significantly lower than those recorded before the financial crisis of 2007–08. [41]

French Polynesia has a moderately developed economy, which is dependent on imported goods, tourism, and the financial assistance of mainland France. Tourist facilities are well developed and are available on the major islands. Main agricultural productions are coconuts (copra), vegetables and fruits. French Polynesia exports noni juice, a high quality vanilla, and the famous black Tahitian pearls which accounted for 55% of exports (in value) in 2008. [42]

French Polynesia's seafloor contains rich deposits of nickel, cobalt, manganese, and copper that are not exploited. [43]

In 2008, French Polynesia's imports amounted to 2.2 billion U.S. dollars and exports amounted to 0.2 billion U.S. dollars. [42]


There are 53 airports in French Polynesia; 46 are paved. [16] Fa'a'ā International Airport is the only international airport in French Polynesia. Each island has its own airport that serves flights to other islands. Air Tahiti is the main airline that flies around the islands.


In 2017, Alcatel Submarine Networks, a unit of Nokia, launched a massive project to connect many of the islands in French Polynesia with underwater fiber optic cable. The project, called NATITUA will improve French Polynesian broadband connectivity by linking Tahiti to 10 islands in the Tuamotu and Marquesas archipelagos. [44] In August 2018, a celebration was held to commemorate the arrival of a submarine cable from Papeete to the atoll of Hao, extending the network by about 1000 kilometres. [45]

Notable people

Painting of Two Women of Tahiti by Paul Gauguin Paul Gauguin 144.jpg
Painting of Two Women of Tahiti by Paul Gauguin

See also


    Related Research Articles

    Geography of French Polynesia

    French Polynesia is located in Oceania. It is a group of six archipelagos in the South Pacific Ocean, about halfway between South America and Australia. Its area is about 4,167 km², of which 3,827 km² is land and 340 km² is (inland) water. It has a coastline of 2,525 km but no land borders with other countries.

    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.

    Marquesas Islands island group in French Polynesia

    The Marquesas Islands are a group of volcanic islands in French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the southern Pacific Ocean. The Marquesas are located at 9.7812° S, 139.0817° W. The highest point is the peak of Mount Oave on Ua Pou island at 1,230 m (4,035 ft) above sea level.

    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.

    Papeete Capital city of French Polynesia

    Papeete is the capital city of French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of the French Republic in the Pacific Ocean. The commune of Papeete is located on the island of Tahiti, in the administrative subdivision of the Windward Islands, of which Papeete is the administrative capital. The French High Commissioner also resides in Papeete.

    Oscar Temaru French Polynesian politician

    Oscar Manutahi Temaru is a French politician. He has been President of French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France, on five occasions: in 2004, from 2005 to 2006, from 2007 to 2008, in 2009, and from 2011 to 2013 and mayor of Faa'a since 1983.

    Gaston Flosse French Polynesian politician

    Gaston Flosse is a French politician who has been President of French Polynesia on five separate occasions. He is currently a member of the Senate of France and has been a French junior minister under Jacques Chirac. He received sentences for corruption, which are under appeal.

    Tuamotus archipelago in French Polynesia

    The Tuamotus, also referred to in English as the Tuamotu Archipelago or the Tuamotu Islands, are a French Polynesian chain of almost 80 islands and atolls forming the largest chain of atolls in the world. This archipelago in the southern Pacific Ocean stretches from the northwest to the southeast over an area roughly the size of Western Europe. The total area of land within this chain is 850 square kilometres, with its major islands being Anaa, Fakarava, Hao and Makemo.

    2004 French Polynesian legislative election

    Elections for the Assembly of French Polynesia, the Territorial Assembly of French Polynesia, were held on May 23, 2004.

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

    Manihi Commune in French Polynesia, France

    Manihi, or Paeua, is a coral atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago, part of French Polynesia. It is one of the northernmost of the Tuamotus, located in the King George subgroup. The closest land to Manihi is Ahe Atoll, located 14 km to the west. The population is 650 inhabitants.

    Assembly of French Polynesia Parliament of French Polynesia

    The Assembly of French Polynesia is the unicameral legislature of French Polynesia, an overseas country of the French Republic. It is located at Place Tarahoi in Papeete, Tahiti. It was established in its current form in 1996 although a Tahitian Assembly was first created in 1824. It consists of 57 members who are elected by popular vote for five years; the electoral system is based upon proportional representation in six multi-seat constituencies. Every constituency is represented by at least three representatives. Since 2001, the parity bill binds that the number of women matches the number of men elected to the Assembly.

    Punaauia Commune in French Polynesia, France

    Puna'auia is a commune in the suburbs of Papeete in French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. Puna'auia is located on the island of Tahiti, in the administrative subdivision of the Windward Islands, themselves part of the Society Islands. In the late 1890s, the French painter Paul Gauguin lived in Puna'auia. Here he painted his masterpiece Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?. The commune borders Faaa on the north and Paea on the south.

    Vahanga island in French Polynesia

    Vahanga is a small uninhabited atoll part of the Acteon Group in the Tuamotu archipelago, French Polynesia and belongs to the municipality of the Gambier Islands.

    Arue, French Polynesia Commune in French Polynesia, France

    Arue is a commune in the suburbs of Papeete in French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. Arue is located on the island of Tahiti, in the administrative subdivision of the Windward Islands, themselves part of the Society Islands. At the 2017 census it had a population of 10,243.

    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.

    Tatakoto Commune in French Polynesia, France

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

    Temoe island in French Polynesia

    Temoe, or Te Moe, is a small atoll of the Gambier Islands in French Polynesia. It is located in the far southeast of the Tuamotu group archipelago. It lies about 37 km southeast from the Gambier Islands and more than 1,700 kilometres southeast from Mataiva, at the other end of the Tuamotu archipelago.

    Index of French Polynesia-related articles Wikimedia list article

    This page list topics related to French Polynesia.


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    General information

    Coordinates: 17°32′S149°34′W / 17.533°S 149.567°W / -17.533; -149.567