French Polynesia

Description of French Polynesia

French Polynesia is located in the South Pacific Ocean. It is attached to France and is a set of islands that is about halfway between Australia and California. Tahiti and the other islands cover approximately 4 million square km of ocean. This is the same amount of land that is covered by the European Union. However, the land that is above sea level consists of about 7000 square kilometers. There are about 118 islands that are grouped into five sets, 4 are volcanic and one is coral. Makatea is a part of French Polynesia is one of 3 large phosphate islands made of rock located in the Pacific Ocean. The other islands are Nauru and Banaba which is also called Ocean Island.


The climate of the French Polynesian islands is tropical, yet moderate. There are occasional storms that occur in January. It is often very humid in the area. The average temperature is around 80 degrees F and the waters in the lagoons stay at temperatures of around 79 degrees F in the winter months and above 80 in the summer.  Most of the resorts and hotels have air conditioning and are also cooled with ceiling fans.

The summer season lasts from November through April. This is when the temperatures are warmer and much more humid. From May through October the temperatures are drier and cooler. As soon as you step off your plane you will notice the humidity. You should pack light, cotton clothing to wear during your stay.


The landscape of the islands is a mix of low islands that have reefs and rugged high islands. The highest point of the French Polynesia is Mont Orohena which sits at about 2241 meters or 6790 feet. There are many diverse landscapes in the country including valleys that are cut out by the rivers and the waterfalls, crests that lead to great summits that attain heights of more than 2000 meters or 6500 feet, and seashore paths that border remote creeks that are overshadowed by the cliffs.


These islands were inhabited by the Polynesians for a few hundred years before they were discovered by explorers from the west. There are several religious sites that still exist today. These are scattered all around the islands and provide evidence of the Polynesian inhabitants that once resided there.

Tahiti was discovered by the British in the middle of the 1760s. In 1769, Captain Cook visited Tahiti in order to view transit of Venus before he sailed south and west to search for Terra Australus Incongnita with the help of a navigator from Polynesia.

The islands were annexed by the French during the 19th century.

During the 1960s and 70s, the French performed nuclear tests on the islands, mostly at Muruoa atoll. The testing was then moved underground after there were several protests internationally about the open area tests that were done. This testing was continued through the 1990s despite many attempts to disrupt the nuclear tests by several groups of environmental activists. In the year 1995, France again stirred up protests by beginning the nuclear tests once again after stopping for 3 years. The nuclear tests were suspended once again in the year 1996.

Recently, the islanders have been working on economic independence and autonomy from France. This process is quite gradual and may take at least one or two decades to complete.


The society islands are the western island group that is mostly inhabited. It consists of high tropical islands that are surrounded by lagoons and coral reefs. Bora Bora, Huahine, Raiatea, and Maupiti are quite remarkable and definitely worth seeing. Moorea and Tahiti are popular destinations as well.

The Tuamotu Islands offer a vast amount of coral reefs. These islands sit quite low. Rangiroa is one of the most outstanding spots.

Marquesas Islands are in the north east and are high islands located near the equator. The steep mountains of the islands are inhabited by wild goats, pigs, and horses. Hiva Oa and Nuku Hiva are outstanding in this region.

Gambier Islands are located in the south east and are not visited often. They consist of Mangareva, which is the high island and a fringe of islands that surround it.

The Austral Islands are the small southern group that includes Bass Islands and Tubuai islands. These were the last islands inhabited in the South Pacific. The ancient volcanoes that have a somewhat soft relief that are located off the beaten path.

Some facts about French Polynesia

Population of country 270,485 people
Area of French Polynesia 4,167 sq. kilometers
Located on the continent Oceania (OC)
Capital of French Polynesia Papeete
Currency at French Polynesia Franc (XPF)
Domain Zone .pf
Phone country code 689
FIPS code of French Polynesia FP

Gallery of French Polynesia

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French Polynesia video guide

More information about French Polynesia

Climate of French Polynesia:
  • tropical, but moderate
Terrain of French Polynesia:
  • mixture of rugged high islands and low islands with reefs
French Polynesia also has such useful resources as: timber, fish, cobalt, hydropower.

Top cities of French Polynesia

City Name Population State Coordinates
1 Faaa 29,388 people -17.55 x -149.6
2 Papeete 26,357 people Iles du Vent -17.53333 x -149.56667
3 Punaauia 25,750 people -17.63333 x -149.6
4 Pirae 14,729 people -17.51667 x -149.53333
5 Mahina 14,224 people -17.50648 x -149.48899
6 Paea 13,359 people -17.68333 x -149.58333
7 Papao 10,360 people -17.75 x -149.55
8 Arue 9,492 people -17.51667 x -149.5
9 Afaahiti 5,186 people -17.75 x -149.28333
10 Vaitape 4,680 people -16.51667 x -151.75
11 Otutara 4,609 people -17.76667 x -149.41667
12 Paopao 4,221 people -17.5 x -149.81667
13 Taunoa 4,131 people -17.75 x -149.35
14 Haapiti 3,959 people -17.56667 x -149.86667
15 Uturoa 3,668 people -16.73333 x -151.43333
16 Afareaitu 3,213 people -17.55 x -149.78333
17 Tohautu 2,842 people -17.75 x -149.31667
18 Tiarei 2,795 people -17.53333 x -149.33333
19 Vairao 2,423 people -17.78333 x -149.28333
20 Tautira 2,293 people -17.73333 x -149.15
21 Teavaro 2,289 people -17.5 x -149.76667
22 Faanui 2,061 people -16.48333 x -151.75
23 Pueu 1,968 people -17.73333 x -149.21667
24 Papetoai 1,964 people -17.48333 x -149.86667
25 Tevaitoa 1,851 people -16.78333 x -151.5
26 Hitiaa 1,826 people -17.6 x -149.3
27 Atuona 1,762 people -9.8 x -139.03333
28 Faaone 1,747 people -17.66667 x -149.3
29 Fare 1,540 people -16.7 x -151.01667
30 Teahupoo 1,422 people -17.83333 x -149.26667

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