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French Polynesia: the enchanting islands of the South Seas

French Polynesia (Polynésie Française) is a French overseas collectivity, governed by a statute of great autonomy, located in the southern Pacific Ocean. The territory is made up of 5 archipelagos scattered over 2.5 million square kilometers of ocean. This is the equivalent of the area of Portugal, Spain, France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Belgium and the Netherlands.

In this immense space the total surface of the emerged lands is 3,660 sq km (equivalent to Sussex, to which are added 597 sq km of internal waters and lagoons). The inhabitants are 275,000 (2017 data), mostly Polynesians (66%), then mixed Europeans and Polynesians (16%), Europeans (12%, mainly French), and Asians (5%, mainly Chinese and Vietnamese).

A PARADISE OF ISLANDS

French Polynesia is made up of over one hundred islands of volcanic or coral origin, distributed among five archipelagos: the Society Islands, the Tuamotu Islands, the Gambier Islands, the Marquesas Islands, and the Austral Islands. The Society Islands are in turn divided into the Windward Islands (Îles du Vent: Tahiti, Moorea, Maiao, Mehetia and Tetiaroa) and the Leeward Islands (Îles Sous-le-Vent: Raiatea, Tahaa, Huahine, Bora Bora, Maupiti, Tupai, Manuae, Mauphiaa and Motu One).

The most important island is Tahiti, in the Society Islands, which is also the largest (1,048 sq km), and most populated (about 190,000 inhabitants in 2017) of the islands of French Polynesia. Here is the capital of the area, Papeete. On the island of Tahiti there is also the highest mountain in French Polynesia, Monte Orohena, which reaches 2,241 meters in height.

The main sources of income for the archipelago are tourism, pearl cultivation, fishing, agriculture (coconut palms, copra, coffee, cotton, sugar cane, vanilla). The most important item of French Polynesia’s exports are the famous black pearls of Tahiti.

The climate of French Polynesia.

  • Area: 3,660 sq km (to which must be added 597 sq km of internal waters and lagoons). (Arable 7%, Pastures 5%, Forests and Woodlands 31%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 57%)
  • Population: 275,000 (83% Polynesians, 12% Europeans, 5% Asians (mainly Chinese and Vietnamese).
  • State Capital: Papeete (Tahiti island).
  • Languages: French (official language) and Tahitian.
  • Religion: Christian: Protestant 54%, Roman Catholic 30%.
  • Currency: CFP Franc (XPF).
  • Time zone: -10 hours compared to London (UK) (-11 hours when London (UK) has daylight saving time). UTC -10 hours.

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