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Map of French Polynesia
Introduction French Polynesia
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
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:
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
2,525 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
tropical, but moderate
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: 2%
permanent crops: 6%
other: 92% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
NA sq km
Natural hazards:
occasional cyclonic storms in January
Environment - current issues:
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
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:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: French Polynesian(s)
adjective: French Polynesian
Ethnic groups:
Polynesian 78%, Chinese 12%, local French 6%, metropolitan French 4%
Protestant 54%, Roman Catholic 30%, other 16%
French (official), Tahitian (official)
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:
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
none (overseas territory of France)
National holiday:
Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
28 September 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system:
based on French system
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 leaders:
International organization participation:
ESCAP (associate), FZ, ICFTU, SPC, WMO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (overseas territory of France)
Diplomatic representation from the US:
none (overseas territory of France)
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.
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:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
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:
revenues: $1 billion
expenditures: $900 million, including capital expenditures of $185 million (1996)
tourism, pearls, agricultural processing, handicrafts
Industrial production growth rate:
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
$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)
$749 million (f.o.b., 1999)
Imports - commodities:
fuels, foodstuffs, equipment
Imports - partners:
France 53%, US 13%, Australia 10% (1999)
Debt - external:
Economic aid - recipient:
$367 million (1997)
Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique franc (XPF)
Currency code:
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)
128,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
7 (plus 17 low-power repeaters) (1997)
40,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
2 (2000)
Internet users:
5,000 (2000)
Transportation French Polynesia
0 km
total: 792 km
paved: 264 km
unpaved: 528 km (2000)
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.)
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:

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002