Tuamotus

Last updated
Tuamotus Islands
Native name:
Îles Tuamotu (French) / Tuamotus (Tuamotuan) / Paumotus (Tahitian)
Flag of the Tuamotu Islands.svg
Flag of the Tuamotu Islands
French Polynesia-CIA WFB Map.png
Geography
Location Pacific Ocean
Coordinates 18°47′S141°35′W / 18.783°S 141.583°W / -18.783; -141.583 Coordinates: 18°47′S141°35′W / 18.783°S 141.583°W / -18.783; -141.583
Archipelago Polynesia
Total islands78
Major islands Rangiroa, Anaa, Fakarava, Hao, Makemo
Area850 km2 (330 sq mi)
Administration
Collectivity Flag of French Polynesia.svg French Polynesia
Largest settlement Rangiroa (pop. 2,709 (2017 [1] ))
Demographics
Population15,346 (2017 [1] )
Pop. density18 /km2 (47 /sq mi)
Languages French, Tuamotuan
Additional information
Time zone

The Tuamotus, also referred to in English as the Tuamotu Archipelago or the Tuamotu Islands ( French : Îles Tuamotu, officially Archipel des Tuamotu), 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 (328 square miles), with its major islands being Anaa, Fakarava, Hao and Makemo.

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 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).

Archipelago A group of islands

An archipelago, sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea containing a small number of scattered islands.

Contents

The Tuamotus have approximately 16,000 inhabitants. The islands were initially settled by Polynesians, and from them, modern Tuamotuans share a common culture and the Tuamotuan language.

Polynesians are an ethnolinguistic group of closely related peoples who are native to Polynesia, an expansive region of Oceania in the Pacific Ocean. They are part of the larger Austronesian ethnolinguistic group who trace their urheimat to Southeast Asia. They speak the Polynesian languages, a branch of the Oceanic subfamily of the Austronesian language family.

Polynesian culture the culture of the indigenous people of the Polynesian islands.

Polynesian culture is the culture of the indigenous peoples of Polynesia who share common traits in language, customs and society. Sequentially, the development of Polynesian culture can be divided into four different historical eras:

Tuamotuan, Paʻumotu or Paumotu is a Polynesian language spoken by 4,000 people in the Tuamotu archipelago, with an additional 2,000 speakers in Tahiti.

The Tuamotus are a French overseas collectivity. The people of Tahiti originally referred to the islands with the exonym of the Paumotus, which means the "Subservient Islands", until a delegation from the island[ which? ] convinced the French authorities to change it to Tuamotus, which means the "Distant Islands".[ citation needed ]

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:

Tahiti Largest island of French Polynesia in central Southern Pacific Ocean

Tahiti is the largest island in the Windward group of French Polynesia. The island is located in the archipelago of the Society Islands in the central Southern Pacific Ocean; it is divided into two parts: the bigger, northwestern part, Tahiti Nui, and the smaller, southeastern part, Tahiti Iti. The island was formed from volcanic activity and is high and mountainous with surrounding coral reefs. The population is 189,517 inhabitants, making it the most populous island of French Polynesia and accounting for 68.7% of its total population.

Administrative divisions

Map of Tuamotus Karta FP Tuamotus isl.PNG
Map of Tuamotus
Satellite image of Tuamotus Archipel des Tuamotu.jpg
Satellite image of Tuamotus

French Polynesia is a semi-autonomous island group designated as an overseas country of France. The Tuamotus combine with the Gambier Islands to form the Îles Tuamotu-Gambier which is one of the five administrative divisions of French Polynesia.

Overseas country is the designation for the overseas collectivity of French Polynesia. French Polynesia was an overseas territory until the constitutional reform on 28 March 2003 created the overseas collectivities. Then, on 27 February 2004 a law was passed giving French Polynesia the particular designation of overseas country while recalling that it belongs to the category of overseas collectivities. However, the Constitutional Council of France ruled that this description was merely a designation and not a legal status, as that would have been unconstitutional.

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.

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.

The Tuamotus are grouped into sixteen communes: Anaa; Arutua; Fakarava; Fangatau; Hao; Hikueru; Makemo; Manihi; Napuka; Nukutavake; Puka Puka; Rangiroa; Reao; Takaroa; Tatakoto; and Tureia.

The commune is a level of administrative division in the French Republic. French communes are analogous to civil townships and incorporated municipalities in the United States and Canada, Gemeinden in Germany, comuni in Italy or ayuntamiento in Spain. The United Kingdom has no exact equivalent, as communes resemble districts in urban areas, but are closer to parishes in rural areas where districts are much larger. Communes are based on historical geographic communities or villages and are vested with significant powers to manage the populations and land of the geographic area covered. The communes are the fourth-level administrative divisions of France.

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.

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.

Electoral divisions

Pearl farm in the Tuamotus TuamotuPearlFarm.jpg
Pearl farm in the Tuamotus

The communes on Tuamotu are part of two different electoral districts (circonscriptions électorales) represented in the Assembly of French Polynesia. The Îles Gambier et Tuamotu Est electoral district comprises the commune of Gambier and eleven communes in eastern Tuamotu: Anaa; Fangatau; Hao; Hikueru; Makemo; Napuka; Nukutavake; Pukapuka; Reao; Tatakoto; and Tureia. The other five communes in western Tuamotu – Arutua; Fakarava; Manihi; Rangiroa; and Takaroa – form the Îles Tuamotu Ouest electoral district.

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.

Demography

Typical waterside view in the Tuamotus TuamotuWaterside.jpg
Typical waterside view in the Tuamotus

At the 2007 census, the Tuamotus (including the Gambier Islands) had a population of 18,317 inhabitants (15,862 in 2002, 8,100 in 1983). Of these, 769 inhabitants live in a 215- nautical-mile (400 km; 250 mi) radius around Mururoa and Fangataufa, the sites of former French nuclear tests.

The common language spoken in the Tuamotus is Tuamotuan, except in Puka-Puka which uses the Marquesan language. The Gambier Islands use Mangarevan.

Economy

The islands' economy is predominantly composed of subsistence agriculture. The most important sources of additional income are the cultivation of black pearls and the preparation of copra. Tourism-related income remains meager, especially by comparison to the tourism industry of the neighboring Society Islands. Modest tourism infrastructure is found on the atolls of Rangiroa and Manihi which have recreational scuba diving and snorkeling destinations.

Geography

Despite the vast spread of the archipelago, it covers a total land area of only about 885 km2 (345 sq mi). The climate is warm tropical, without pronounced seasons. The annual average temperature is a relatively continuous 26 °C (79 °F). Water sources such as lakes or rivers are absent, leaving catchments of rain as the only source of fresh water. The annual average rainfall is 1400  mm (about 55 in). Rainfall is not markedly different throughout the year, although it is lowest during the months of September and November.

Geological stability of the archipelago is high, as it was created by the weakly active Easter Fracture Zone. No volcanic eruptions have been recorded historically.

Flora and fauna

Coconut palms, Takapoto Tuamotu 9612a.jpg
Coconut palms, Takapoto

The sparse soil of the coral islands does not permit diverse vegetation. The coconut palm, which forms the basis for copra production, is of special economic importance. On a few islands, vanilla is also cultivated. Agriculture is generally otherwise limited to simple subsistence. Fruit and vegetable staples include yams, taro, and breadfruit, as well as a wide range of other tropical fruits. Pandanus leaves are traditionally woven together as a roof thatch (although nowadays there are a great number of corrugated sheet-metal roofs instead), as well as for other items, such as mats and hats.

The species-rich reefs are home to a diverse range of underwater fauna. Surface creatures are primarily seabirds, insects, and lizards. The Tuamotus have only 57 species of birds, but ten of these are endemic, including the Tuamotu kingfisher, the Tuamotu reed warbler, and the Tuamotu sandpiper. Thirteen species are globally threatened and one is extinct. [2]

Geology

All of the islands of the Tuamotus are coral "low islands": essentially high sand bars built upon coral reefs. Makatea, southwest of the Palliser Islands, is one of three great phosphate rocks in the Pacific Ocean. The others are Banaba in Kiribati, and the island nation of Nauru. Although geographically part of the Tuamotus, the Gambier Islands, at the southeastern extreme of the archipelago, are geologically and culturally distinct.

In the northwest of the archipelago, the ring-shaped atoll Taiaro provides a rare example of a coral reef with a fully enclosed lagoon. The atoll was officially designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1977. [3]

History

The early history of the Tuamotu islands is generally shrouded in mystery. Archaeological findings lead to the conclusion that the western Tuamotus were settled from the Society Islands by c. 700. On the islands of Rangiroa, Manihi and Mataiva, there are flat ceremonial platforms (called marae ) made of coral blocks, although their exact age is unknown.

European encounters with the Tuamotus began with that of Portuguese sailor Ferdinand Magellan, during his circumglobal voyage in 1521 sailing in the service of the Spanish Crown. His visit was followed by:

None of these visits were of political consequence, as the islands were in the sphere of influence of the Pōmare Dynasty of Tahiti.

It was not until the beginning of the 19th century that the first Christian missionaries arrived. Traders took the islands' pearls to the European markets by the late 19th century, making them coveted possessions. France forced the abdication of King Pōmare V of Tahiti and claimed the islands without ever having formally annexed them.

Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny Stevenson travelled among the Paumotus on the Yacht Casco in 1888; an account of their journey was published as In the South Seas. [5] Jack London wrote a story, "The Seed of McCoy", based on an incident in 1900 when a burning ship, the Pyrenees, was safely beached on Mangareva. In the story, London has the ship sail past Mangareva and all through the Tuamotus before beaching on Fakarava. [6]

The Tuamotus made headlines around the world in 1947, when Norwegian ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl, sailing from South America with a crew of five others, reached Raroia on his raft Kon-Tiki . More recently the islands have been the subject of headlines as the site of French nuclear weapons testing on the atolls of Moruroa and Fangataufa.

Island groups

The Tuamotu archipelago consists of eight groups of small islands and atolls:

Related island groups include:

See also

Related Research Articles

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

Rangiroa island in French Polynesia

Rangiroa or Te Kokōta, is the largest atoll in the Tuamotus, and one of the largest in the world. It is part of the Palliser group. The nearest atoll is Tikehau, 12 km to the west. It is about 355 km northeast of Tahiti.

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.

Ahe island in French Polynesia

Ahe, Ahemaru or Omaru, is an almost entirely-enclosed coral atoll, located in the northern Tuamotu Archipelago, just 14 km to the west of Manihi, in French Polynesia.

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".

Palliser Islands archipelago in French Polynesia

The Palliser Islands or Pallisers are a subgroup of the Tuamotu group in French Polynesia. They are located in the very northwest of the main group of atolls.

Îles Tuamotu-Gambier administrative subdivision of French Polynesia

The Îles Tuamotu-Gambier geographically consist of the Tuamotus and the Gambier Islands which are geographically located closely together.

Tikehau island in French Polynesia

Tikehau or Porutu-kai is a coral atoll in the Palliser Islands group, part of the Tuamotu Archipelago in French Polynesia. It is included in the commune of Rangiroa.

King George Islands archipelago in French Polynesia

The King George Islands is a subgroup of the Tuamotus Archipelago group in French Polynesia.

Kaukura island in French Polynesia

Kaukura or Kaheko is an atoll in the Tuamotu group in French Polynesia, 48 km (30 mi) long and 15 km (9 mi) wide. It is located in the western area of the archipelago, 58 km (36 mi) SW of Rangiroa. The closest land is Arutua Atoll, only 16 km (10 mi) to the East.

Raeffsky Islands archipelago in French Polynesia

The Raeffsky Islands or Raevski Islands is a subgroup with just over 3000 people in the Tuamotu group in French Polynesia. They are located roughly in the central area of the main Tuamotu atoll cluster.

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.

The 1st constituency of French Polynesia is a French legislative constituency in French Polynesia.

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.

The French Polynesia 's 2nd constituency is a French legislative constituency in French Polynesia. It is currently represented by Nicole Sanquer of Tahoera'a Huiraatira.

References

  1. 1 2 "Population". Institut de la statistique de la Polynésie française (in French). Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  2. Blanvillain, C; Florent, C & V. Thenot (2002) "Land birds of Tuamotu Archipelago, Polynesia: relative abundance and changes during the 20th century with particular reference to the critically endangered Polynesian ground-dove (Gallicolumba erythroptera)". Biological Conservation103 (2): 139-149 doi : 10.1016/S0006-3207(01)00112-4
  3. "Biosphere Reserve Information". Unesco.com. 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  4. 1 2 Salmond, Anne (2010). Aphrodite's Island. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 34. ISBN   9780520261143.
  5. In the South Seas (1896) & (1900) Chatto & Windus; republished by The Hogarth Press (1987)
  6. London, Jack (2006). Gary Riedl and Thomas R. Tietze (eds.). Jack London's tales of cannibals and headhunters: nine South Seas stories by America's master of adventure. UNM Press. pp. 33–37. ISBN   0-8263-3791-0 . Retrieved 2011-09-28.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)