French Polynesia is located halfway between Australia and California and comes under the jurisdiction of France. The archipelago spans across 2,500,000 sq. km of the South Pacific Ocean. However, the total land area occupied by islands is 4,167 sq. km. The country houses 118 islands that are divided into 6 groups, namely Marquesas Islands, Society Islands, Tuamotu Islands, Gambier Islands, Austral
About French Polynesia
French Polynesia is located halfway between Australia and California and comes under the jurisdiction of France. The archipelago spans across 2,500,000 sq. km of the South Pacific Ocean. However, the total land area occupied by islands is 4,167 sq. km. The country houses 118 islands that are divided into 6 groups, namely Marquesas Islands, Society Islands, Tuamotu Islands, Gambier Islands, Austral Islands and Bass Islands.
The inhabitants of French Polynesia mainly comprise native Polynesians and other ethnic groups like Europeans, East Asians and mixed races. Tahiti is the most populated island in the country and houses the capital city, Papeete. Other important islands are Bora Bora, Ahe, Hiva Oa, Tahaa, Moorea, Maupiti and Nuku Hiva.
Christianity forms the main religion of the country, with 54% Protestants and 30% Roman Catholics. The official language of the country is French, although Tahitian and other local Polynesian languages are also spoken.
French Polynesia was known to be an overseas territory from 1946 to 2003, until it became an overseas collectively. The former status was changed to overseas country in 2004.
The Marquesas Islands were the first to be settled by native Polynesians in 300 AD. This was followed by the settlement of Society Islands in 800 AD. After the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, sighted Pukapuka in the Tuamotu Archipelago in 1521, French Polynesia came in communication with Europe. In the later years, explorers like James Cook and others from Netherlands and Britain also visited these islands.
The beginning of Christianity in the country dates back to the migration of Spanish priests and British Protestants in 1774 and 1797, respectively. In 1803, King Pomare II of Tahiti was persuaded to flee to Moorea. This led to the mass conversion of Tahitian people to Protestantism in 1812. After the migration of Catholic missionaries from France in 1834, Tahiti and Tahuata were declared as French protectorates in 1842.
The capital city, Papeete, was founded in 1843. The formal annexation of Tahiti took place in 1880, followed by the French claim over Tuamotu Archipelago. Rimatara and Rurutu islands were also annexed, in 1889.
In 1940, the Polynesians participated in World War II with France. French citizenship was granted to Polynesians in 1946. It was in the year 1957 that the islands were formally named as French Polynesia.
Recognised as the land of beautiful lagoons and beaches, French Polynesia is a popular destination among honeymooners. The climate and outdoor topography of the country favours outdoor activities like scuba diving and snorkelling.
Owing to the tropical weather, French Polynesia can be visited all round the year. Nevertheless, the dry winter season, stretching from May to October, is considered the best time to visit.
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