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Native name:
Borabora Tahaa Raiatea.jpg
The islands of Bora Bora (top) Tahaa (middle) and Raiatea (bottom). Tahaa and Raiatea share the same lagoon.
Karta FP Societe isl.PNG
Location Pacific Ocean
Coordinates 16°49′S151°27′W / 16.817°S 151.450°W / -16.817; -151.450 Coordinates: 16°49′S151°27′W / 16.817°S 151.450°W / -16.817; -151.450
Archipelago Society Islands
Major islandsRaiatea
Area167.7 km2 (64.7 sq mi)
Highest elevation1,017 m (3337 ft)
Highest point Mount Tefatua
Overseas collectivity French Polynesia
Capital and largest city Uturoa [1] (pop. 3,778)
Population12,545 [2]
Pop. density72/km2 (186/sq mi)

Raiatea (Tahitian : Ra'iātea) is the second largest of the Society Islands, after Tahiti, in French Polynesia. The island is widely regarded as the "centre" of the eastern islands in ancient Polynesia [3] and it is likely that the organised migrations to the Hawaiian Islands, New Zealand and other parts of East Polynesia started at Raiatea.


A traditional name for the island is Havai'i , homeland of the Māori people. [4] Situated on the southeast coast is the historical Taputapuatea marae, which was established by 1000 AD.

The main township on Raiatea is Uturoa, the administrative centre for the Leeward Islands (French Îles Sous-le-vent). There are also colleges which serve as the main educational location for secondary schools for students from the regional islands of Bora Bora, Tahaa, Huahine and Maupiti.


Taputapuatea marae, an ancient marae mentioned in the traditions of Polynesian peoples, including, for example, the Maori of Aotearoa, who regard this place as a sacred marae of their ancestors. This is where the Hawaiian voyaging canoe Hokule'a landed on her first voyage in 1976. Marae Taputapuatea.jpg
Taputapuatea marae, an ancient marae mentioned in the traditions of Polynesian peoples, including, for example, the Māori of Aotearoa, who regard this place as a sacred marae of their ancestors. This is where the Hawaiian voyaging canoe Hōkūle'a landed on her first voyage in 1976.

The Tahitian language name Ra'iātea means bright sky. "Ulitea" is an obsolete transcription commonly used in the 19th century.

The extinct Raiatea starling inhabited the island; there is only one drawing of it in the world - in the Natural History Museum, London.

Geography and population

The islands of Raiatea and Tahaa are enclosed by a single coral reef, and may once have been a single island. Raiatea is both the largest and most populated island in the Leeward Islands, with a land area of 167.7 km2 (64.7 sq mi) and a total population of 12,024 inhabitants at the August 2007 census. The population density is 72 inhabitants per km². The largest commune of Raiatea is Uturoa on the north side of Raiatea and has a population of nearly 10,000.


The Polynesian navigator Tupaia, who sailed with explorer James Cook, was born in Raiatea around 1725. Cook visited Raiatea in 1769 and again in 1773-1774. [4] :214–218,284–291,315–318 He named the island "Ulitea". [5] Omai (c.1751-1780), another young man from Raiatea, travelled with European explorers to London in 1774 and also served as an interpreter to Captain Cook on his second and third journeys.

King Tamatoa VI was the last monarch, reigning from 1884-1888.


Raiatea has a small road that runs around the entire island. Raiatea Airport is an airport in Uturoa.


The island is divided into three administration communes (municipalities):

These three communes are inside the administrative subdivision of the Leeward Islands.


The island economy is mainly agricultural with exports of vanilla, pineapple and coconut. The plant Nono (or noni) (Morinda citrifolia) is also grown. Fa'aroa Valley is a large and important agricultural region with the rural economy and the cultivation of vanilla supported by a local research facility. Pearl farming is also an important industry while farming cattle, sheep and pigs has recently decreased. There is less tourism compared to the other islands in the archipelago. The local tourist infrastructure comprises boarding houses, two marinas, a four star hotel, The Hawaiki Nui and a port for visiting cruise ships. There is also a fledgling local industry in the maintenance of yachts and shipbuilding. The main source of employment is the island's public service and the consumer market.

See also

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Uturoa Commune in French Polynesia, France

Uturoa is a commune located in Raiatea, the largest island of the Îles Sous le Vent in French Polynesia. It is situated in between the administrative subdivision of Leeward Islands and the main port of the island of Raiatea. According to the 2017 census, Uturoa has a population of 3,778 individuals. The commune spans approximately 120 miles (193.121 km) northwest of Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia.

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Taputapuatea marae

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Index of French Polynesia–related articles Wikipedia index

This page list topics related to French Polynesia.

Tehaapapa II Queen regnant of Huahine

Maerehia of Raiatea and Tahaa, was a princess of Raiatea and Tahaa from the Tamatoa dynasty family, a Polynesian royal family. She was wife of Ari'imate of Huahine, founder of the Teururai dynasty which reigned on the Tahitian island of Huahiné and Maia'o during the 19th century. She was Queen of Huahine and Maia'o and later Queen regnant in her own right. Comteporary sources seems to call her Tehaapapa I instead, disregarding the ruling queen by the same name at the time Captain Cook visited the island.


Vaitape is the largest city of Bora Bora Island in French Polynesia. It has a population of 4,927, about half of the island's population which is about 9,000. It is located about 210 km (130 mi) northwest of Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia. The main language of Vaitape is French, although 20 percent of the population speaks Tahitian.

Dorice Reid, also known by the chiefly title Te Tika Mataiapo Dorice Reid, was a Cook Islander tourism official, businesswoman and judge. Reid enjoyed a long career in Cook Island business, politics and tourism from the 1970s until her death in 2011.

Kingdom of Bora Bora 18th c. Polynesian kingdom

The Kingdom of Bora Bora was established during the early 19th century with the unification of the island of Bora Bora and official recognition by France and the United Kingdom in 1847 through the Jarnac Convention. It was one of a number of independent Polynesian states in the Society Islands, alongside Tahiti, Huahine and Raiatea in the 19th century, which all shared a similar language and culture and whose rulers were interrelated by marriage. Besides Bora Bora, the Kingdom encompassed the islands of Tupai, Maupiti, Maupihaa, Motu One, and Manuae. The Kingdom was finally annexed to France in 1888 and its last queen Teriimaevarua III was forced to abdicate in 1895.

Teriitaria II Queen regnant of Huahine and Mai’ao

Teriitaria II or Teri'itari'a II, later known as Pōmare Vahine and Ari'ipaea Vahine, baptized Taaroamaiturai, became Queen of Tahiti when she married King Pōmare II and later, she ruled as Queen of Huahine and Maiao in the Society Islands.

Cyclone Alan

Tropical Cyclone Alan was considered to be one of the worst natural disasters experienced in French Polynesia. The system, first noted as a tropical disturbance on April 17, 1998 east of the Northern Cook Islands, initially moved erratically prior to its designation as Alan upon developing into a tropical cyclone on April 21. The following day, Alan reached its estimated peak intensity with 10-minute maximum sustained wind speeds of 75 km/h (45 mph), posing several forecasting challenges due to difficulties in establishing its location and intensity. On April 23, Alan appeared to become sheared with the low-level circulation center displaced about 20 km (10 mi) from the nearest atmospheric convection. However, over the next day, after the mid-level trough of low pressure shearing the system moved faster than expected, Alan became better organized. While situated about 555 km (345 mi) west-northwest of the French Polynesian island of Tahiti, the system drifted south-southeastward. Early on April 25, Alan passed near to or over the French Polynesian Society Islands of Maupiti, Bora-Bora, and Raiatea. However, strong wind shear pulled the system apart, with visible imagery confirming the system's degeneration into a depression with a fully exposed low-level circulation. The system affected French Polynesia with high winds and torrential rain, causing several landslides on the Society Islands. The landslides resulted in the collapse of two bridges, and also overturned trees, in turn obstructing roads. Overall, ten people died as a result of the system, while thirty others were injured, with a majority of the casualties a result of landslides. On the islands of Raiatea, Taha'a and Huahine, several churches, schools and clinics were damaged, while water and electricity supplies were cut off. On the islands, around 750 houses were destroyed, with 430 and 150 wrecked on Huahine and Ra'iātea, respectively.

Franco-Tahitian War

The Franco-Tahitian War or French–Tahitian War (1844–1847) was a conflict between the Kingdom of the French and the Kingdom of Tahiti and its allies in the South Pacific archipelago of the Society Islands in modern-day French Polynesia.

Annexation of the Leeward Islands Armed and diplomatic conflicts between France and native kingdoms of French Polynesia

The annexation of the Leeward Islands or the Leewards War was a series of diplomatic and armed conflicts between the French Third Republic and the native kingdoms of Raiatea-Tahaa, Huahine and Bora Bora, which resulted in the conquest of the Leeward Islands, in the South Pacific archipelago of the Society Islands in modern-day French Polynesia.


Teraupo'o was a Tahitian (Maohi) resistance leader of the islands of Raiatea and Tahaa who fought off French rule from 1887 to 1897 during the decade-long Leeward Islands War.


  1. "Raiatea a unique natural heritage". e-Tahiti Travel. Archived from the original on 2007-12-13. Retrieved 2019-12-22.
  2. Institut Statistique de Polynésie Française (ISPF). "Recensement de la population 2007" (PDF) (in French). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-12-03. Retrieved 2007-12-02.
  3. Buck, Peter Henry (1964). "7. The Centre of the Triangle". Vikings of the Sunrise (Digitized Edition). Christchurch, New Zealand: Whitcombe and Tombs. pp. 67–86.
  4. 1 2 Salmond, Anne (2010). Aphrodite's Island . Berkeley: University of California Press. pp.  227-228. ISBN   9780520261143.
  5. Ellis, William (1830). Polynesian Researches, During a Residence of Nearly Six Years in the South Sea Islands, including Descriptions of the Natural History and Scenery of the Islands, with Remarks on the History, Mythology, Traditions, Government, Arts, Manners, and Customs of the Inhabitants. II. London: Fisher, Son, & Jackson. p. 6. Retrieved 2020-01-23. Ioretea, the Ulitea of Captain Cook, or, as it is now more frequently called by the natives, Raiatea, is the largest of the Society Islands.
  6. Wilson, Rob (2000). Reimagining the American Pacific: From South Pacific to Bamboo Ridge and Beyond. Durham and London: Duke University Press. p. 87. ISBN   978-0-8223-2523-9.