French Polynesia

Spread over a vast area about the size of France - are divided into 5 groups: the Austral, Gambier, Marquesas, Society and Tuamotu archipelagos. 

Prior to France in 2003, and now retains a great degree of autonomy.

These days, the ancient subsistence economy of the larger islands has been replaced by the modern economics of tourism revenues, military employment, pearl farming, commercial fishing and a growing selection of small manufacturing jobs. 

Fast Facts

  • Name: French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France, originally claimed in 1843 
  • Capital City: Papeete, Tahiti
  • Population: 268,270 (2012 census)
    500 franc
  • Ethnicity: Polynesian 78%, Chinese 12%, local French 6%, metropolitan French 4%
  • Language: French (official) 61.1%, Polynesian (official) 31.4%, Asian languages 1.2%, other 0.3%, unspecified 6%
  • Largest Cities: (by population) Faaa, Papeete, Punaauia, Pirae, Mahina, Paea, Papao, Arue, Afaahiti, Vaitape
  • National Day: July 14
  • Religion: Protestant 54%, Roman Catholic 30%, other 10%, no religion 6%


Larger French Polynesia flag  

Geo. Statistics

  • Coastline: 1,568 miles (2,525 km)
  • Land Area
    (land) 1,477 sq miles (3,827 sq km)
    (water) 131 sq mi (340 sq km)
    (TOTAL) 1,608 sq miles (4,167 sq km)To convert sq km (kilometers) to sq mi (miles)
    Land Area: (all countries)
  • Latitude & Longitude: 
    Papeete: (capital city) 17° 32' S, 149° 34' W
    Tahiti: (capital city) 17° 39' S, 149° 25' W
  • Horizontal Width: unknown
  • Vertical Length: unknownNote: Lengths and widths are point-to-point, straight-line measurements from a Mercator map projection, and will vary some using other map projections
  • Geographic Center: unknown
  • Highest Point: Mont Orohena 7,352 ft. (2,241 m)
  • Lowest Point: Pacific Ocean (0m)


Scattered over 965,255 sq. miles (2,500,000 sq. km) of ocean, most of the islands of French Polynesia are volcanic in origin and fringed by coral reefs. 

Of these islands, the Society archipelago is certainly the most famous. It includes the stunning islands of Tahiti - and like the enchanting Marquesas in the northeast - most are lush, dark green specs of land, volcanic in origin, with jagged-edged peaks jutting boldly into the sky. 

The Tuamotu archipelago (in contrast to the other groups) includes only low-lying coral atolls (78 in all), and of these, only a handful have passable inlets into their central lagoons. 

Rangiroa, the largest coral atoll in French Polynesia, is famed for its natural beauty, and remains a favorite of travelers from across the globe.

The Austral and Gambier islands in the south are lighted populated, as most are still uninhabited. 

The highest point of French Polynesia is Mont Orohena, which peaks at 7,352 ft. (2,241 m).




Travel Info

ATTRACTIONS: (a few major)
Located halfway between Tahiti, in and around the capital city of Papeete. Its lively port boasts Parisian-style cafés, a market, and plenty of places to dine. 


The summer months (November - April) are hot and humid, with many sunny days. The balance of the year is slightly cooler and drier. 

Cooling trade winds buffet the islands throughout the year, and the months of June, July, August and October are widely considered to be ideal times to visit. 

Frankly, there's never a bad time to travel to paradise. 

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This page was last updated on November 22, 2017.