French Polynesia


French Polynesia
a French overseas territory in the S Pacific, including the Society Islands, Marquesas Islands, and other scattered island groups. 119,168; 1544 sq. mi. (4000 sq. km). Cap.: Papeete. Formerly, French Oceania.

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French Polynesia

Introduction French Polynesia -
Background: The French annexed various Polynesian island groups during the 19th century. In September 1995, France stirred up widespread protests by resuming nuclear testing on the Mururoa atoll after a three- year moratorium. The tests were suspended in January 1996. Geography French Polynesia
Location: Oceania, archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from South America to Australia
Geographic coordinates: 15 00 S, 140 00 W
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 4,167 sq km (118 islands and atolls) water: 507 sq km land: 3,660 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly less than one-third the size of Connecticut
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 2,525 km
Maritime claims: exclusive economic zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate: tropical, but moderate
Terrain: mixture of rugged high islands and low islands with reefs
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m highest point: Mont Orohena 2,241 m
Natural resources: timber, fish, cobalt, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 1.64% permanent crops: 6.01% other: 92.35% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: NA sq km
Natural hazards: occasional cyclonic storms in January Environment - current issues: NA
Geography - note: includes five archipelagoes; Makatea in French Polynesia is one of the three great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean - the others are Banaba (Ocean Island) in Kiribati and Nauru People French Polynesia -
Population: 257,847 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 29% (male 38,184; female 36,631) 15-64 years: 65.7% (male 88,250; female 81,165) 65 years and over: 5.3% (male 6,850; female 6,767) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.67% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 18.17 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 4.49 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 3.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.09 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 1.01 male(s)/ female total population: 1.07 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 8.95 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 75.23 years female: 77.69 years (2002 est.) male: 72.88 years
Total fertility rate: 2.18 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA% HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: French Polynesian(s) adjective: French Polynesian
Ethnic groups: Polynesian 78%, Chinese 12%, local French 6%, metropolitan French 4%
Religions: Protestant 54%, Roman Catholic 30%, other 16%
Languages: French (official), Tahitian (official)
Literacy: definition: age 14 and over can read and write total population: 98% male: 98% female: 98% (1977 est.) Government French Polynesia -
Country name: conventional long form: Territory of French Polynesia conventional short form: French Polynesia local short form: Polynesie Francaise local long form: Territoire de la Polynesie Francaise former: French Colony of Oceania
Dependency status: overseas territory of France since 1946
Government type: NA
Capital: Papeete Administrative divisions: none (overseas territory of France); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 5 archipelagic divisions named Archipel des Marquises, Archipel des Tuamotu, Archipel des Tubuai, Iles du Vent, and Iles Sous-le-Vent note: Clipperton Island is administered by France from French Polynesia
Independence: none (overseas territory of France)
National holiday: Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
Constitution: 28 September 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system: based on French system
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Jacques CHIRAC of France (since 17 May 1995), represented by High Commissioner of the Republic Michel MATHIEU (since 24 October 2001) head of government: President of the Territorial Government of French Polynesia Gaston FLOSSE (since 4 April 1991); President of the Territorial Assembly Lucette TAERO (since 17 May 2001) cabinet: Council of Ministers; president submits a list of members of the Territorial Assembly for approval by them to serve as ministers elections: French president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; high commissioner appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of Interior; president of the Territorial Government and the president of the Territorial Assembly are elected by the members of the assembly
Legislative branch: unicameral Territorial Assembly or Assemblee Territoriale (49 seats - changed from 41 seats for May 2001 election; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) elections: last held 6 May 2001 (next to be held NA May 2006) note: one seat was elected to the French Senate on NA September 1998 (next to be held NA September 2007); results - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA; two seats were elected to the French National Assembly on 9 June-16 June 2002 (next to be held NA 2007); results - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - People's Rally for the Republic (Gaullist) 29, Independent Front for the Liberation of Polynesia 12, The New Star 7, other 1
Judicial branch: Court of Appeal or Cour d'Appel; Court of the First Instance or Tribunal de Premiere Instance; Court of Administrative Law or Tribunal Administratif Political parties and leaders: Independent Front for the Liberation of Polynesia (Tavini Huiraatira) [Oscar TEMARU]; New Fatherland Party (Ai'a Api) [Emile VERNAUDON]; People's Rally for the Republic of Polynesia or RPR (Tahoeraa Huiraatira) [Gaston FLOSSE]; The New Star (Te Fetia Api) [Boris LEONTIEFF] Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization ESCAP (associate), FZ, ICFTU, SPC,
participation: WMO Diplomatic representation in the US: none (overseas territory of France) Diplomatic representation from the none (overseas territory of France)
US:
Flag description: two narrow red horizontal bands encase a wide white band; centered on the white band is a disk with blue and white wave pattern on the lower half and gold and white ray pattern on the upper half; a stylized red, blue and white ship rides on the wave pattern; the French flag is used for official occasions Economy French Polynesia
Economy - overview: Since 1962, when France stationed military personnel in the region, French Polynesia has changed from a subsistence economy to one in which a high proportion of the work force is either employed by the military or supports the tourist industry. With the halt of French nuclear testing in 1996, the military contribution to the economy fell sharply. Tourism accounts for about one-fourth of GDP and is a primary source of hard currency earnings. Other sources of income are pearl farming and deep-sea commercial fishing. The small manufacturing sector primarily processes agricultural products. The territory substantially benefits from development agreements with France aimed principally at creating new businesses and strengthening social services.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $1.3 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 4% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $5,000 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 6% industry: 18% services: 76% (1997) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.5% (1994)
Labor force: 70,000 (1996) Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 13%, industry 19%, services 68% (1997)
Unemployment rate: NA%
Budget: revenues: $1 billion expenditures: $900 million, including capital expenditures of $185 million (1996)
Industries: tourism, pearls, agricultural processing, handicrafts Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production: 408 million kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 53.92% hydro: 46.08% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 379.44 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: coconuts, vanilla, vegetables, fruits; poultry, beef, dairy products
Exports: $205 million (f.o.b., 1999)
Exports - commodities: cultured pearls 50%, coconut products, mother-of-pearl, vanilla, shark meat (1997)
Exports - partners: Japan 62%, US 21% (1999)
Imports: $749 million (f.o.b., 1999)
Imports - commodities: fuels, foodstuffs, equipment
Imports - partners: France 53%, US 13%, Australia 10% (1999)
Debt - external: $NA Economic aid - recipient: $367 million (1997)
Currency: Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique franc (XPF)
Currency code: XPF
Exchange rates: Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique francs (XPF) per US dollar - 135.04 (January 2002), 133.26 (2001), 129.44 (2000), 111.93 (1999), 107.25 (1998), 106.11 (1997); note - pegged at the rate of 119.25 XPF to the euro
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications French Polynesia - Telephones - main lines in use: 52,000 (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: 5,427 (1997)
Telephone system: general assessment: NA domestic: NA international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) Radio broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 14, shortwave 2 (1998)
Radios: 128,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 7 (plus 17 low-power repeaters) (1997)
Televisions: 40,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .pf Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 2 (2000)
Internet users: 5,000 (2000) Transportation French Polynesia -
Railways: 0 km
Highways: total: 792 km paved: 264 km unpaved: 528 km (2000)
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: Mataura, Papeete, Rikitea, Uturoa
Merchant marine: total: 4 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 5,240 GRT/7,765 DWT ships by type: cargo 1, passenger/ cargo 2, refrigerated cargo 1 (2002 est.)
Airports: 45 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 33 over 3,047 m: 2 1,524 to 2,437 m: 5 914 to 1,523 m: 21 under 914 m: 5 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 12 914 to 1,523 m: 3 under 914 m: 9 (2001) Military French Polynesia -
Military branches: no regular indigenous military forces; French Forces (including Army, Navy, Air Force), Gendarmerie
Military - note: defense is the responsibility of France Transnational Issues French Polynesia - Disputes - international: none

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French Polynésie Française formerly French Oceania

French overseas territory (pop., 2002 est.: 242,000), in the southern Pacific Ocean.

French Polynesia has an area of some 1,550 sq mi (4,000 sq km), comprising 130 islands in five archipelagoes: the Society Islands, the Tuamotu Archipelago, the Gambier Islands, the Marquesas Islands, and the Austral Islands. Tahiti, in the Society group, is the largest island and the site of the capital, Papeete. More than two-thirds of the population of French Polynesia lives on Tahiti. The islands became French protectorates in the 1840s, and in the 1880s the French colony of Oceania was established. It became an overseas territory of France after World War II and was granted partial autonomy in 1977.

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Introduction
French  Polynésie Française , Tahitian  Polynesia Farani 
    overseas country of France consisting of five archipelagoes in the south-central Pacific Ocean. Included are some 130 islands scattered across the Pacific between latitudes 7° and 27° S and longitudes 134° and 155° W—a total land area roughly equivalent to that of metropolitan Paris and London combined, but spread across a swath of ocean five times as large as France. The archipelagoes are the Society Islands, Tuamotu Archipelago, Gambier Islands, Marquesas Islands, and Tubuai Islands. The capital, Papeete, is on Tahiti, the territory's largest island (403 square miles [1,043 square km]), in the Society group.

Land

 The islands are all protrusions of parallel submarine ridges trending from the northwest to the southeast. The Society Islands are the most westerly and extensive group, accounting for two-fifths of the land area and nearly nine-tenths of the population. They consist of two groups, the Îles du Vent (Vent, Îles du) (Windward Islands) in the east and the Îles Sous le Vent (Sous le Vent, Îles) (Leeward Islands) in the west. Except for a few small coral atolls, the Society Islands resulted from the emergence of underwater volcanoes. The volcanic cones are highly eroded and cut up into high crests and deep, radiating valleys. The often lushly vegetated mountains drop abruptly to narrow coastal strips or directly into lagoons or the sea. The islands are protected from the force of the sea by almost completely encircling barrier reefs.

       Tahiti, formed of two ancient volcanic cones, is particularly striking because of its dramatic silhouette, which rises 7,352 feet (2,241 metres) above sea level. The mountains are empty of human settlement, habitation and planting being entirely limited to the coastal strip and valley outlets of the island. The island of Moorea, separated from Tahiti by a channel 8.5 miles (14 km) wide, is also a high island and is encircled with brilliant white coral sand beaches. It is well-connected to Tahiti by boat and taxi planes—a consequence of the booming tourist trade there.

 Some 75 miles (120 km) west of Tahiti are the Îles Sous le Vent (Sous le Vent, Îles), made up of five volcanic islands and four atolls. They closely resemble the Îles du Vent in appearance. Raiatea, a double island group, is the largest and most densely populated of the Îles Sous le Vent. Separated by a channel that is about 2 miles (3 km) wide, Raiatea and its northern neighbour, Tahaa, are located on the same mountain mass and lie within a single barrier reef. Both have coastal plains suitable for growing coconut palms and raising livestock. Some vanilla is also grown. The group's main port is Uturoa, located on Raiatea. To the east of Raiatea is the picturesque island of Huahine, a volcanic structure bisected by a shallow arm of the sea.

 Finally, to the west of Raiatea lies the beautiful little island of Bora-Bora. It is formed from two volcanic peaks rising to 2,385 feet (727 metres) and 2,169 feet (661 metres) and dropping abruptly to the lagoon. Bora-Bora is one of the centres of the tourist trade in French Polynesia.

      The Tuamotu Archipelago, lying to the east of the Society Islands, has a land area of 266 square miles (689 square km) and consists of some 80 islands. These are low, flat islands or atolls of coral origin, surrounding a lagoon. Their size varies greatly, from 30 square miles (75 square km) in Rangiroa to a few acres of land barely protruding above the surface of the sea. With only porous, coral-based soils and with no permanent streams, they have no agricultural potential aside from the ever-present coconut trees. The lagoons, however, are a source of fish, pearls, and mother-of-pearl shell. Only Rangiroa, with its airport, is in close contact with Tahiti. Elsewhere, living conditions are difficult, and many people emigrate to Tahiti.

      Administratively linked to the Tuamotu Islands but morphologically different, the Gambier Islands lie at the southern extremity of the Tuamotu Archipelago and include four large, high volcanic islands and a few islets covering a total of 14 square miles (36 square km). The main island is Mangareva, whose name is sometimes used to refer to the whole group.

      The 14 islands of the Marquesas (Marquesas Islands) group lie 900 miles (1,450 km) to the northeast of Tahiti. They have a land area of 405 square miles (1,049 square km). Some of them are volcanic islands rising above 4,000 feet (1,200 metres), with sharp and twisting contours. Unlike the Society Islands, they are not protected from the sea by a barrier reef, with the result that they lack a coastal plain. Approaching the islands from the sea is difficult. People live exclusively in the valleys, where they engage in farming.

      The Tubuai (Tubuai Islands), or Austral, Islands, situated 450 miles (720 km) south of Tahiti, make up the southernmost part of the territory. This chain of four islands, with the addition of the isolated island of Rapa in the southeast and the uninhabited Marotiri and Maria islands, covers 57 square miles (148 square km). All of the islands are of volcanic origin but are relatively low (rising to elevations of 270 to 1,440 feet [80 to 440 metres]) and rounded. Income is derived from agriculture (taro, arrowroot, copra, market vegetables) and pandanus plaiting.

      Like the Marquesas and the Tuamotu-Gambiers, the Tubuai Islands have poor connections with Tahiti. As elsewhere, the hard living conditions cause many people to migrate to Tahiti and Papeete.

Climate
      The climate is tropical—warm and humid. A warm rainy season lasts from November to April, and a relatively cool dry season from May to October. The dispersion of the islands through 20° of latitude, however, results in regional climatic variation. Except in the Marquesas and the northern Tuamotus, precipitation is abundant, often falling in violent rain storms. As much as 120 inches (3,050 mm) falls annually on the coastal areas. There are local variations because of differing exposures; on average the windward coasts receive more precipitation.

      The temperature varies only slightly throughout the year. At Papeete the average annual temperature is 79 °F (26 °C); the high average is 91 °F (33 °C) in March and the low average 70 °F (21 °C) in August. The Tubuai Islands, farther south, have a cooler climate; the low average can go down to 64 °F (18 °C) in September. The relative humidity is always high—generally between 80 and 90 percent. The more elevated areas are continually enveloped in heavy cloud formations.

      The territory is in the trade-wind (Pacific Ocean) zone. The dominant winds thus blow from the north and northeast, but they tend toward the southeast between May and October. There are long periods of calm in the period from April to June but with occasional typhoons, particularly during occurrences of the El Niño water-temperature anomaly in the Pacific.

Plant and animal life
      Because of the isolation of the islands, there is little variety in terrestrial flora and fauna. Most of the plant species were introduced by the first Polynesians, and others were introduced by Europeans.

      Plant cover varies according to local conditions. On the limestone soils of the atolls, xerophilous (desert-type) plants are commonly found. On the high volcanic islands plant life is more diversified; ferns have conquered many hills and plateaus, whereas rainforests are established in the upper valley areas. On coastal plains coconut, breadfruit, and various fruit trees flourish.

      The land fauna is especially limited, and most of the species have been introduced. Although no mammals are indigenous to the islands, there are feral goats, pigs, horses, cattle, and rats. A fish called nato and a variety of shrimp are found in the islands' freshwater streams. The marine life in the lagoons and surrounding seas is varied and plentiful.

 Most of the people throughout the islands may be classed as Polynesian, although many are also of partly European or Asian heritage. Whites of European (notably French) origin make up about one-eighth of the population. The vast majority of the population is Christian. More than half of the people are Protestant—affiliated primarily with the Maòhi Protestant Church (formerly Evangelical Church of French Polynesia)—and about two-fifths are Roman Catholic. The official languages are French and Tahitian, although other Polynesian languages are widely used. The birth rate is about the same as the world average, but the rate of natural increase is relatively high.

      On the high volcanic islands, homes are scattered through coconut groves along the coastal roads. Villages are spaced several miles apart and typically include a church, a government house, a school, shops, a pastor's home, and a few residences. Many contemporary rural houses are of concrete construction in a yard shaded by fruit trees, with a separate kitchen made from traditional materials (e.g., palm or bamboo) where food is prepared and eaten. On the atolls, the population is usually grouped together in villages located close to the passes through the surrounding reefs. On Tahiti, population and business activity tend to concentrate in Papeete and surrounding areas.

Economy
      Tourism is the country's main economic activity. Many resources are used for local subsistence, including fruits, products from fishing and planting, and materials for the construction of traditional types of houses and canoes. Agriculture, once of primary importance, now only provides a small portion of the gross domestic product. Pigs, cattle, and chickens are raised for food. The traditional exports—including vanilla—have greatly declined, but this loss of revenue has been partially compensated for by the development of fishing, especially with the extension of territorial waters to 200 nautical miles (370 km) offshore in 1978. Shrimp and oysters are farmed. Black cultured pearls, principally from the Tuamotu and Gambier islands groups, account for some two-thirds of export earnings.

      Manufactured products include copra, coconut oil, other oils, beer, printed cloth, and sandals; traditional handicrafts and boats are made on some of the outer islands. Hydroelectric power plants on Tahiti began service in the early 1980s, and by the early 21st century some one-third of the country's power was hydroelectricity.

      Until the mid-1990s revenue was greatly increased by the presence of French military personnel supporting the nuclear testing facilities in the Tuamotus. Logistical support activities on Tahiti and Hao Atoll created additional employment until France declared a moratorium on nuclear testing in 1996. The French government pledged to provide aid for a number of years to compensate for the adjustment. At the same time, the government has attempted to diversify the economy and stimulate investment.

      Beginning in the mid-20th century, transportation facilities were constructed or greatly upgraded, including the development of a modern port in Papeete, construction of an international airport at Faaa, and the establishment of air services with some of the outlying islands: Moorea, the Îles Sous le Vent, the western Tuamotus, the Marquesas, and the Tubuais. There is scheduled shipping to other regions in the Pacific, but interisland shipping remains largely dependent on local unscheduled schooner sailings. French Polynesia has a relatively modest road network, but the great majority of roads are paved or stone-surfaced.

Government and society
      French Polynesia, as an overseas country of France, has greater autonomy than many other French possessions. Its legal status is that of an overseas collectivity, which entails greater independence than that of an overseas department or territory. The constitution provides for a unicameral legislature, the French Polynesia Assembly, which is elected by universal adult suffrage and chooses the country's president from among its members. The president is assisted by a cabinet called the Council of Ministers. A high commissioner appointed by the French government represents the French president as head of state and is in charge of matters including defense, foreign relations, and justice. An Economic, Social and Cultural Council, made up of representatives from trade unions, various professional societies, and cultural and other organizations, serves as an advisory group to the government concerning proposed legislation. The country is represented in the French Parliament by two deputies and a senator. The judicial system includes a Court of Appeal, a Court of First Instance, and a Court of Administrative Law.

      Schooling is compulsory for children aged 6 to 14 and is free for students attending government day schools. The six years of primary education are funded by the government; there are church- and government-run secondary schools. The University of French Polynesia, located in Papeete, is the only tertiary-level institution in the country. It was established in 1987 as part of the French University of the Pacific and took its present name in 1999 when the university split into two entities, one in French Polynesia and one in New Caledonia. Health care facilities are concentrated in the towns and cities.

Cultural life
 Many elements of traditional Polynesian culture and arts, such as dancing (tamure), music, tattooing, and religion, disappeared in large part under the influence of missionaries, who began arriving in the late 18th century and suppressed the traditional culture. It has also been misrepresented and, to an extent, reduced to a sort of folklore by the romantic image that Europeans adopted. The beauty of the islands drew artists such as the French painter Paul Gauguin (Gauguin, Paul), who lived first on Tahiti and later on Hiva Oa. Inspired by the local culture, Gauguin employed Polynesian images and spiritual themes in the work he created there. A number of his paintings—as well as the work of other artists—are displayed in the Paul Gauguin Museum on Tahiti.

      With the country's growing independence has come greater attention to Polynesian culture, including the increased use of the Tahitian language and its elevation to the status of an official language in the late 20th century. An ethnographic museum and learned society in Papeete have contributed to efforts to preserve the territory's cultural heritage. Still, the absence of newspapers in Polynesian languages, the small amount of broadcasting in the Tahitian language, and the pervasive influence of European and North American cultural exports (notably music and television) all threaten what survives of Polynesian culture.

      Archaeological evidence suggests that the Marquesas Islands may have been settled about 200 BCE from western Polynesia. In subsequent dispersions, Polynesians from the Marquesas migrated to the Hawaiian Islands (Hawaii) about 300 CE and reached the Society Islands by about the 9th century. Large chieftainships were formed on Tahiti, Bora-Bora, and Raiatea. Teriaroa, north of Tahiti, was a royal retreat, and Taputapuatea, on Raiatea, was the most sacred shrine in the islands.

      European contact with the islands of French Polynesia was gradual. The Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan (Magellan, Ferdinand) sighted Pukapuka Atoll in the Tuamotu group in 1521. The southern Marquesas Islands were reached in 1595. The Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen in 1722 discovered Makatea, Bora-Bora, and Maupiti. Capt. Samuel Wallis in 1767 reached Tahiti, Moorea, and Maiao Iti. The Society Islands were named for the Royal Society, which had sponsored the expedition under Capt. James Cook (Cook, James) that observed from Tahiti the 1769 transit of the Sun by the planet Venus. Cook reached Tubuai on his last voyage, in 1777.

      The history of the Society Island groups is virtually that of Tahiti, which was made a French (France) protectorate in 1842 and a colony in 1880. French missionaries went to the Gambier group in 1834, and in 1844 a French protectorate was proclaimed, followed by annexation in 1881. The Tubuai Islands were also evangelized from Tahiti, and as late as 1888 Rimatara and Rurutu sought British protection, which was refused. They were placed under the French protectorate in 1889 and annexed in 1900. The Tuamotus were part of the kingdom of the Pomare family of Tahiti, which came originally from Fakarava Atoll. These islands were claimed as dependencies of Tahiti within the protectorate by France in 1847 and became part of the colony in 1880. In the Marquesas, Nuku Hiva was annexed to the United States in 1813 by Capt. David Porter (Porter, David) of the frigate Essex, but the annexation was never ratified. French occupation of the group followed the landing of forces from a French warship, requested by the chief of Tahuata (near Hiva Oa). Soon after there was a quarrel with the French; in 1842 the chiefs ceded sovereignty to France.

      The islands were administered as the French Colony of Oceania. The colony was ruled by a naval government until 1885, when an organic decree provided for a French governor and Privy Council and for a General Council, representing the islands, that had some control over fiscal policies. The powers of the General Council, however, were cut back in 1899, and in 1903 it was replaced by an advisory council, which was purely administrative in function. In 1940 the voters on the islands chose to side with the Free French government of Charles de Gaulle (Gaulle, Charles de), and many islanders fought alongside Allied armies during World War II. French Polynesia was made an overseas territory of France in 1946. It was provided with a territorial assembly and was allowed to elect one representative to the French National Assembly and one to the French Senate.

      In 1957 the French government extended the powers of the local Territorial Assembly. In 1958 Pouvanaa a Oopa, vice president of the Council of Government, announced a plan to secede from France and form an independent Tahitian republic. He was subsequently arrested; the movement collapsed, and local powers were again curtailed. France issued new statutes granting more local autonomy in 1977, but the pro-independence and pro-autonomy parties continued to call for popular election of the president and either more autonomy or outright independence. In 2004 French Polynesia was designated an overseas country, which increased its powers of self-government, although its legal status remained that of an overseas collectivity. Oscar Temaru, a pro-independence leader, after having served briefly in 2004, again was president in 2005–06. He returned to the presidency for a third time in September 2007.

      In 1963 the French government began testing nuclear weapons on Mururoa, which the territorial assembly ceded to France the following year, along with neighbouring Fangataufa. In response to worldwide pressure the tests were moved underground on Fangataufa in 1975. The territory became autonomous in 1984. However, the detonations continued. In the mid-1980s political parties and environmental-protection and human rights groups united to protest France's nuclear testing. In 1985 world attention focused on the area when French commandos blew up a yacht owned by the environmental group Greenpeace as it was preparing to lead a protest near Mururoa Atoll. In 1992 French prime minister Pierre Bérégovoy (Bérégovoy, Pierre) suspended testing, but Pres. Jacques Chirac (Chirac, Jacques) ordered its resumption in 1995. Amid widespread opposition from the French public and within the territory itself, France exploded a bomb under Mururoa. The test was followed by rioting within the French territory. Mounting antinuclear pressure led the French to reduce the number of planned tests from eight to six, and the last device was detonated below Fangataufa Atoll in January 1996. Later in 1996 France signed the protocols of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga). Military and civilian facilities related to the nuclear testing were dismantled. Hundreds of French soldiers subsequently left the area, causing the loss of many associated service jobs. Questions remained regarding the effect that radiation from the nuclear tests had had on the region's population, and a government committee of inquiry reported to the legislature in 2006 that France had hidden the extent of radioactive fallout from the aboveground tests. The committee recommended that France monitor public health in the region, compensate the Polynesian citizens affected, and clean up the environment; the French government rejected the report.

Francis James West Sophie Foster

Additional Reading
General overviews and travel guides include David Stanley, Tahiti Handbook, new ed. (2003); Jenny Haworth, French Polynesia: Pearl of the Pacific (2001); and Becca Blond, Celeste Brash, and Hilary Rogers, Tahiti and French Polynesia, 7th ed. (2006). French Polynesian society and culture are examined in F. Allan Hanson, Rapan Lifeways: Society and History on a Polynesian Island (1970, reprinted 1983); Douglas L. Oliver, Ancient Tahitian Society, 3 vol. (1974), a classic treatment; and Peter Leiataua AhChing, Polynesian Interconnections: Samoa to Tahiti to Hawaii (2004), a cultural and scientific analysis of the Polynesian people. Useful histories include Robert Langdon, Tahiti, Island of Love, 5th ed. (1979); Colin Newbury, Tahiti Nui: Change and Survival in French Polynesia, 1767–1945 (1980); and Trevor Lummis, Pacific Paradises: The Discovery of Tahiti and Hawaii (2006), which examines the European discovery of the islands and how contact with explorers, missionaries, and other colonizers changed the lives of the islanders.Sophie Foster

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • French Polynesia — French overseas territory in the South Pacific, consisting principally of five archipelagoes: 1,260 sq mi (3,263 sq km); pop. 189,000; cap. Papeete: formerly called French (Settlements in) Oceania …   English World dictionary

  • French Polynesia — <p></p> <p></p> Introduction ::French Polynesia <p></p> Background: <p></p> The French annexed various Polynesian island groups during the 19th century. In September 1995, France stirred up… …   The World Factbook

  • French Polynesia —    Catholics began the process of Christianizing the islands that are now French Polynesia in 1659, but Protestant efforts that began in the 19th century have won over the majority of the population.    In 1797, a group of missionaries arrived in …   Encyclopedia of Protestantism

  • French Polynesia — noun /ˈfrɛntʃ pɒl.ɪˈniː.ʒə,ˈfrɛntʃ pɒl.ɪˈniː.zi.ə,ˈfrɛntʃ pɒl.ɪˈniː.ʃə,ˈfrɛntʃ pɑ.lɪˈni.ʒə,ˈfrɛntʃ pɑ.ləˈni.ʒə/ An overseas territory of France in Oceania. Official name: Territory of French Polynesia …   Wiktionary

  • French Polynesia — French′ Polyne′sia n. geg a French overseas territory in the S Pacific, including the Society Islands, Marquesas Islands, and other scattered island groups. 224,911; 1544 sq. mi. (4000 sq. km) Cap.: Papeete …   From formal English to slang

  • French Polynesia — French Pol|y|ne|si|a about 130 islands in the southern Pacific Ocean, including ↑Tahiti, which belong to France. Population: 253,506 (2001). Capital: Papeete …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • French Polynesia — French overseas terr., South Pacific; comprises the Society, Marquesas, Gambier, and other islands; 1,550 sq. mi.; pop. 197,000; cap. Papeete …   Webster's Gazetteer

  • French Polynesia — noun a French overseas possession in the South Pacific • Syn: ↑French Oceania • Instance Hypernyms: ↑possession • Part Holonyms: ↑Polynesia • Part Meronyms: ↑Society …   Useful english dictionary

  • French Polynesia — /frɛntʃ pɒləˈniʒə/ (say french poluh neezhuh) noun a French overseas territory in the South Pacific, including the Society Islands, Marquesas Islands, and other widely scattered island groups. 3999 km2. Languages: French, Tahitian and other… …   Australian English dictionary


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