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Austral Islands: the southernmost archipelago of Polynesia

The Austral Islands are the southernmost group of islands in French Polynesia, they are located near the Tropic of Capricorn between 21 ° and 28 ° south latitude. Their total area reaches 148 sq km and their population slightly exceeds six thousand inhabitants, the most populated islands are those of Rurutu and Tubuai. The islands are between 550 and 1,250 km away from Tahiti and are aligned from north-west to south-east. This chain of islands is an extension of the same submerged chain that forms the southern Cook Islands.

The archipelago of the Austral islands is made up of 5 main islands all of volcanic origin: Tubuai (45 sq km; 2,050 inhabitants), Rurutu (36 sq km; 2,088 inhabitants), Raivavae (16 sq km; 905 inhabitants), Rimatara (8 sq km; 785 inhabitants) and the distant Rapa (40 sq km; 482 inhabitants). At the far north of the archipelago is the Iles Maria atoll (1.3 sq km; uninhabited) and at the far south, not far from Rapa, are the Marotiri islets, a group of 4 small uninhabited volcanic rocks.

The most important island and administrative center of the archipelago is Tubuai. The Austral islands are of volcanic origin, the highest peak is Mount Perau (650 meters) on the island of Rapa. Taro, legumes, coffee, fruit, potatoes and coconut palms are grown there. Fishing in the lagoon and on the high seas is another activity practiced by the inhabitants. The first Austral island to be sighted by Europeans was the island of Rurutu which was discovered by the English captain James Cook on August 13, 1769.


The islands of Rurutu, Tubuai, Raivavae and Rimatara are connected by Air Tahiti flights with Tahiti, and between them. While the remote island of Rapa is connected only by cargo.

  • Surface: 148 sq km
  • Population: 7,000 inhabitants

The climate of the Austral islands.


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