French Polynesia Figures and Facts

By | July 29, 2022

French Polynesia (the capital of Papete, Tahiti) is located in the Pacific Ocean, 17,700 km from Europe and occupies about five million square kilometers of water. The distance from Tahiti to California is 6520 km, to Australia – 5390 km, to Tokyo – 9500 km.
The islands were formed as a result of volcanic eruptions in different periods, which explains the diversity of landscapes.

118 luxurious islands are located on 5 archipelagos, of which the SOCIETY archipelago and the TUAMOTU archipelago are of the greatest interest in terms of recreation.

Climate: tropical. According to smartercomputing, the average temperature during the year is 27 degrees. The water temperature in Tahiti is 26 degrees. Hot sun softened by the fresh Pacific breeze.

Population: About 215,000 people

Electricity: 110 or 220V (depending on the island). Carefully check the voltage before turning on any electrical appliance.

Currency: Polynesian Franc (XPF); 1 Euro = 119.253 XPF

Public Health: No vaccinations required as there are no dangerous animals or insects in Polynesia. The healthcare system is at a high level.

Moving Between Islands: There are different ways to move between islands. Contact the Itineria office in Moscow regarding each specific route.

Clothing: In Polynesia, both locals and tourists dress simply. Bring beach and summer clothes, preferably cotton. For the boat trip, bring linen and wool clothing as it can get chilly in the evening. Footwear: sandals, hiking shoes, plastic sandals for coral walking (you can find them in any shop or hotel locally). Be sure to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, panama, swimsuit.

Languages: French and Tahitian are the official languages. English is spoken in hotels, tourist places, shops and restaurants.

Time: When Sunday is noon in Tahiti, in Paris Sunday is 23.00 in winter and 24.00 in summer, in Moscow Monday is 1.00 in winter and 2.00 in summer.

Tipping: Not part of Polynesian culture.

Souvenirs: The best memory of Fr. Tahiti – black pearls (there are pearls of different shades of gray, green and bronze colors). The cost of one pearl can reach hundreds of dollars, but there are also inexpensive specimens.


The date of the beginning of the settlement of the Polynesian islands is difficult to establish – most likely, this happened in the period from the 10th to the 5th century BC. Brave sailors from the tribes of Asia and South America reached the Marquesas Islands, where the cradle of the Maoi civilization is located, and then mastered the nearby archipelagos. And when, in the 18th century, Captains Cook and Bougainville discovered these paradise islands, the history of Polynesian culture on them totaled more than 800 years!

The strictly hierarchical Maoi society had a complex culture and religion, which is now the object of research. Its ancient traces have been preserved on many islands: tiki – carved stones and marae – sanctuaries, which are stones standing vertically, stretched in a line, or folded into a pyramid. Traditional art can be traced in tattoos, which have not only aesthetic value, but also reflect the social status of their wearer, as well as in ancient dances and polyphonic songs – himene tarava and ruau.

And before the 18th century, of course, there were contacts with the West – in the 16th – 17th centuries, but they did not have a great influence on local customs. It was in the XVIII century that the word “Polynesia” appeared, denoting the numerous islands discovered in the “South Seas” by great navigators. In the process of a long search for a large “southern continent”, which, according to scientists of that era, was supposed to “balance the world”, sailors met only small islands that did not have special wealth (neither gold nor silver), but which became the embodiment of paradise on earth – after long months of sailing, landing in Tahiti or Bora Bora, the sailors felt like they were in the Garden of Eden.

Officially, the island of Tahiti was discovered on June 23, 1767 by the Englishman Samuel Wallis. The next visitor to the island was the Frenchman Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, who arrived on April 6, 1768 on the frigate La Boudeuse. The next was Captain Cook, who visited these islands three times – in 1769, 1773 and 1777. But the most famous is the expedition of 1789, the purpose of which was to collect shoots of breadfruit, designed to serve as food for colonists and black slaves on Caribbean plantations. The Bounty sailing ship, commanded by Captain William Bly, became the scene of the most famous ship riot in history – the captain’s mate, Christian Fletcher and his accomplices left the ship on a boat and settled on Pitcairn Island (between Mangareva Island and Easter Island) to avoid the gallows.

On June 29, 1880, King Pomare V handed over his lands to France. Since 1984, French Polynesia has had the status of an Overseas Territory (TOM) and enjoys broad autonomy – it has its own President and Council of Ministers, as well as a legislative assembly elected by popular vote. The administration of France extends only to the legal, financial and defensive spheres.

In 1996, there were 223,752 inhabitants in French Polynesia: 164,953 on the Windward Islands, 27,347 on the Leeward Islands (of which the Society’s archipelago is made up), 8,531 on the Marquesas, 16,110 on the Tuamotu and Gambier, and 6,811 in the Australians.

French Polynesia History