French Polynesia Geography

By | August 10, 2021

As a country located in Oceania defined by, French Polynesia is a French overseas territory in Polynesia that consists of a total of 118 islands. The archipelago is located in the Pacific and covers a total area of ​​about 4 million square kilometers. The land area of ​​all the islands, atolls and archipelagos of French Polynesia reaches approximately 4,000 square kilometers.

The most famous island of French Polynesia, which also has the largest population, is Tahiti (178,133 residents, 2007 census). Tahiti is also home to the highest point in French Polynesia, the 2,241 m high Mont Orohena.

The central archipelago of French Polynesia are the 14 Society Islands, which in turn are subdivided into the ” Islands in the Wind” and “Islands under the Wind”. Among the first are the trade wind-facing islands of Tahiti (with the capital Papeete), Moorea, Maiao, Tetiaroa and Mehetia. The western “islands under the wind” facing away from the wind include Bora Bora, Huahine, Maupiti, Raiatea and Tahaa as well as the atolls Motu One and Manuae.

The Tuamotu Archipelago with 76 atolls, the ten Marquesan Islands, seven Austral Islands and the Gambieri Islands, which consist of 26 islets, also belong to the territory of French Polynesia.

The five archipelagos of French Polynesia have a very different appearance. The Society Islands are formed by high mountain ranges and lagoons protected by coral reefs. The lagoons are speckled with tiny, frayed-looking islets called “motu”. About three quarters of the total population of French Polynesia live on the Society Islands.

The Tuamotu Archipelago is made up of classic deep-lying coral atolls, while the distant Marquesan Islands consist mainly of high and jagged rocks. The Austral Islands, which are far from the main groups of islands, are just as scattered across the Pacific as the tiny islets of the Gambieri Islands.

French Polynesia – Key Data

Area: 4,167 km² (118 islands and atolls), land: 3,827 km², water: 340 km²

294,935 residents (estimate July 2011, CIA). Polynesians 66.5%, Polynesians with partly European and / or East Asian ancestors 7.1%, Europeans (mostly French) 11.9%, Demis (mixed race with European and Polynesian ancestors) 9.3%, East Asians (before all Chinese) 4.7% (1988 census).

Population density: 71 residents per km²

Population growth:
1.391% per year (2009)

Capital: Papeete (26,017 residents, 2007 census)

Largest city: Faaa (29,851 residents, 2007 census)

Highest point:
Mont Orohena, 2,241 m

Lowest point: Pacific Ocean, 0 m

Form of government: French Polynesia has been a French overseas country since 2004 (Pays d’outre mer). With the change of status from overseas territory to Overseas Zealand, French Polynesia became noticeably more independent from motherland France. The local government and the regional assembly Assemblée territoriale with its 57 deputies can regulate numerous local matters themselves, exceptions are foreign policy, defense, justice, monetary and internal security. French Polynesia will send two MPs to the French National Assembly and a Senator to the Senate in France.

French Polynesia is not part of the European Union, but its citizens are citizens of France and therefore also EU citizens, so they are also entitled to vote in elections to the European Parliament.

Administrative division: 5 archipelagos (Society Islands, Tuamotu Archipelago, Marquesas Islands, Austral Islands and Gambier Islands)

Head of State and Government:
French President Francois Hollande, since May 15, 2012

President: Gaston Flosse, since May 17, 2013

Language: The official languages ​​in French Polynesia are French (61.1%) and Tahitian (31.4%). In addition, Asian (1.2%) and other languages ​​(0.3%) are spoken. 6% no information (2002 census).

Religion: Protestants 54%, Roman Catholic 30%, Others 10%, no religion 6%

Local time: three time zones run through French Polynesia, there is no changeover between summer and winter time on the islands.

Gambier Islands: CET – 10 am
The time difference to Central Europe is -10 hours in northern summer and 11 hours in northern winter.

Marquesas Islands: CET – 10:30 h
The time difference to Central Europe is in northern summer – 10:30 h, in northern winter – 11:30 h.

Society Islands including the main island of Tahiti, Tuamotu Archipelago and Austral Islands (Îles Australes): CET – 11 am.

The time difference to Central Europe is -11 h in northern summer and – 12 h in northern winter.

International telephone code: +689

Internet Mains

Voltage: 110 V, 50 Hz and 220 V, 60 Hz

French Polynesia climate

As in other states in the South Pacific, the islands of French Polynesia are dominated by a consistently tropical, warm and always humid climate with low temperature fluctuations over the course of the year. Because although the territory covers an area of ​​4 million square kilometers, the proximity to the equator ensures relatively uniform weather conditions.

There are two seasons in French Polynesia. The cooler and drier season lasts from April / May to October when the trade winds blow from the southeast. The thermometer then reaches an average of 28 to 29 ° C during the day; at night it is still 22 to 23 ° C. The Passat also ensures that the humidity is bearable during these months. But even though it is the “dry season”, tropical showers and thunderstorms are always possible even in the southern winter. However, the sun shines again after a short time.

The hotter and wetter season includes the period between November and March / April. With values ​​of 22 ° C at night and up to 32 ° C during the day, it becomes very warm and with a humidity of sometimes over 80% also quite humid. Trade winds from the north and northeast are responsible for the fact that around three quarters of the annual rainfall falls in these months in the form of heavy rainfall. Most of the precipitation is received on the east sides of the islands facing the trade winds. From January to March there is also a risk of cyclones streaking French Polynesia.

French Polynesia Geography

The water temperature is always between 26 and 29 ° C. With up to 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, French Polynesia is one of the most sunniest areas on earth.