French Polynesia General Information

French Polynesia General Information

General: The French annexed various groups of Polynesian islands during the 19th century. In September 1995, France provoked widespread protests by resuming nuclear testing at Mururua Atoll. According to, testing was suspended in January 1996.


Location: Oceania, an archipelago in the South Pacific, about halfway between South America and Australia.
Geographic coordinates: 15° 00′ S. latitude, 140° 00’W
Reference map: Oceania.
Area: total: 4,167 km2 (118 islands and atolls); land surface area: 3,660 km2; water surface area: 507 km2
Comparative area: slightly less than one-third of the state of Connecticut.
Land borders: 0 km.
Coastline: 2,525 km.
Maritime claims: exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles; territorial waters: 12 nautical miles.
Climate: Tropical but temperate.
Relief: there are both high islands with rugged terrain and low ones with reefs.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m; highest point: Mount Orohena 2,241 m.
Natural resources: timber, fish, cobalt, hydropower.
Land use: arable land: 1%; cultivated land: 6%; pastures: 5%; forests and plantations: 31%; others: 57% (1993 est.).
Irrigated land: no data.
Natural Hazards: Cyclonic westerly storms in January.
Current environmental issues: no data available.
International agreements on environmental protection:
Note to the section “Geography”: includes five archipelagos; Makatea in French Polynesia is one of the three Pacific islands with the largest phosphate deposits, along with Banaba in Kiribati and Nauru.


Population: 253,506 (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 29.74% (male 38,473; female 36,925); 15 to 64 years old: 65.17% (men 86,128; women 79,076); over 65: 5.09% (male 6,481; female 6,423) (2001 est.).
Population growth: 1.72% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 18.6 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 4.45 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: 3.09 people /1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male/female; under 15: 1.04 male/female; 15 to 64 years old: 1.09 male/female; over 65: 1.01 male/female; for the general population: 1.07 male/female (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 9.12 deaths/1000 births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 75.01 years; men: 72.67 years; women: 77.46 years (2001 est.).
General birth rate: 2.23 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of the adult population infected with HIV: no data available.
Number of people infected with HIV: no data.
Mortality due to AIDS: no data available.
Nationality: noun: French Polynesian; adjective: pertaining to French Polynesia.
Ethnic groups: Polynesian 78%, Chinese 12%, local French 6%, metropolitan French 4%.
Religious: Protestant 54%, Catholic 30%, other 16%.
Languages): French (official), Tahitian (official).
Literacy: definition: persons aged 14 and over who can read and write; for the general population: 98%; men: 98%; women: 98% (1977 est.).


Conventional long form: Territory of French Polynesia
Conventional short form: French Polynesia; local long form: Territoire de la Polynesie Francaise; local short form: Polynesie Francaise. Dependency status: Overseas territory of France since 1946. Political system: no data.
Capital: Papeete.
Administrative division: none (overseas territory of France); there are no first-order administrative divisions according to the classification adopted by the US government, but the territory is divided into 5 island groups: Marquesas Islands, Tuamotu Islands, Tubuai Islands, Windward Islands, Leeward Islands; note: Clipperton Island is administered by France from French Polynesia.
Dependent territories:
Independence: none (overseas territory of France).
National holiday: Bastille Day, July 14 (1789).
Constitution: adopted 28 September 1958 (French constitution).
Legal system: based on the French system.
Suffrage: from the age of 18, universal.
chief of state: French President Jacques Chirac (since 17 May 1995), represented by the High Commissioner of the Republic, Paul RONCIERE (since 1994);
head of government: President of the Territorial Government of French Polynesia Gaston FLOSSE (since 4 April 1991); Territorial Assembly President Justin ARAPARI (since May 13, 1996);
the president submits a list of members of the Territorial Assembly for confirmation as ministers. elections: French president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term; the high commissioner is appointed by the President of France on the proposal of the Ministry of the Interior; the President of the Territorial Government and the President of the Territorial Assembly are elected by the members of the Assembly.
Legislature: unicameral Territorial Assembly (41 seats; members are elected by popular vote for five years); elections: last held 12 May 1996 (next to be held in 2001); election results: distribution of votes between parties: no data; distribution of seats by party: Gaullists 22, Tavini Huiraatira 10, Ai’a Api 5, others 4; note: elections for a member of the French Senate took place on 24 September 1989 (next to be held in September 1998); distribution of votes between parties: no data; distribution of seats among parties: UC 1; elections for two members of the French National Assembly took place 25 May – 1 June 1997 (next to be held in 2002); distribution of votes between parties: no data; distribution of seats among parties: Gaullists 2.
Judiciary: Court of Appeal; Court of First Instance; Administrative Court.
Political parties and leaders: Union of the Center (UC) (leader – NA); Independent Front for the Liberation of Polynesia (Tavini Huiraatira) (Oscar TEMARU); New Fatherland Party (Ai’a Api) (Emile VERNAUDON [Emile VERNAUDON]); People’s Association in Support of the Republic (Tahoeraa Huiraatira, Gaullists) (Gaston FLOS).
Political influence groups and their leaders:
Participation in international organizations: ESCAP (associate), FZ, ICFTU, SPC, WMO.
Diplomatic representation in the United States: none (overseas territory of France).
US Diplomatic Representation: None (French Overseas Territory).
Flag Description: two narrow horizontal red stripes frame a wide white one, in the center of which there is a disk with a blue-white wavy pattern at the bottom and white-golden rays at the top; a stylized ship of red, blue and white colors floats along the waves depicted on the disk; for official ceremonies, the flag of France is used.


Economic Overview: Since 1962, when France deployed its military personnel in the region, French Polynesia’s economy has changed from a subsistence economy to an economy in which the majority of the working population is either employed by the armed forces or in tourism. Tourism revenues account for about a quarter of GDP and are the main source of foreign exchange. The small industrial sector is predominantly engaged in food production. The Territory has benefited from the implementation of a five-year development agreement with France (1994-98), aimed mainly at creating new jobs.
GDP: Purchasing Power Parity $2.6 billion (1997 est.)
Real GDP growth rate: 2.5% (1997 est.).
GDP per capita: at purchasing power parity – $10,800 (1997 est.).
The composition of GDP by sectors of the economy: agriculture: 4%; industry: 18%; service sector: 78% (1997).
Proportion of the population below the poverty line: no data available.
Percentage distribution of household income or consumption: for the poorest 10% of households: n/a; 10% of the wealthiest families: no data.
Inflation rate at consumer prices: 1.5% (1994).
Labor force: 70,000 people (1996).
Employment structure: agriculture 13%, industry 19%, services 68% (1997).
Unemployment rate: 15% (1992 est.).
Budget: revenues: $1 billion; expenses: $900 million, including capital investments – $185 million (1996).
Economic sectors: tourism, cultivation and extraction of pearls, processing of agricultural products, handicraft production.
Growth in industrial production: no data available.
Electricity generation: 430 million kWh (1999).
Sources of electricity generation: fossil fuels: 51.16%; hydropower: 48.84%; nuclear fuel: 0%; others: 0% (1999).
Electricity consumption: 399.9 million kWh (1999)
Electricity export: 0 kWh (1999).
Electricity import: 0 kWh (1999).
Agricultural products: coconuts, vanilla, vegetables, fruits; poultry, beef, dairy products.
Export: $205 million (free on board, 1999)
Exports: cultured pearls 50%, coconut products, mother-of-pearl, vanilla, shark meat (1997).
Export partners: Japan 62%, USA 21% (1999).
Imports: $749 million (free on board, 1996)
Import articles: fuel, foodstuffs, equipment.
Import partners: France 53%, USA 13%, Australia 10% (1999).
External debt: no data. Economic aid recipient: $367 million (1997)
Economic aid donor:
Currency: Pacific franc (Comptoirs Fran-cais du Pacifique franc).
Currency code: XPF.
Exchange rate: XPF/USD – 127.11 (January 2001), 129.44 (2000), 111.93 (1999), 107.25 (1998), 106.11 (1997), 93.00 (1996), 90.75 (1995); note – pegged to the euro at the rate of 119.25 XPF per euro.
Fiscal year: calendar year.


Telecommunications Telephone lines: 52,000 (1997).
Mobile cellular phones: 5427 (1997).
Telephone system: internal: no data; international: communication station -1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean).
Broadcast stations: AM – 2, FM -14, shortwave -2 (1998).
Radio receivers: 128,000 (1997).
Television broadcast stations: 7 (and 17 low power repeaters) (1997).
TVs: 40,000 (1997).
Internet country code: pf
Internet providers: 2 (2000).
Number of users: 5,000 (2000).


Transport Railways: 0 km.
Roads: total: 792 km; coated: 792 km; unpaved: 0 km (1995 est.).
Ports and harbours: Mataura, Papeete, Rikitea, Uturoa.
Merchant fleet: total: 4 vessels (displacement 1,000 tons or more) with a total displacement of 5,240 gross register tons / 7,765 long tons of gross tonnage; l+. ships of different types: cargo ships – 1, cargo-passenger ships – 2, refrigerated ships – 1 (2000 est.).
Airports: 45 (2000 est.).
Airports with paved runways: total: 32; over 3,047 m: 2; from 1524 to 2437 m:5; from 914 to 1523 m:19; less than 914 m: 6 (1999 est.).
Airports with unpaved runways: total: 13; from 914 to 1523 m:3; less than 914 m: 10 (2000 est.).

Armed forces

Branches of the armed forces: French armed forces (army, navy, air force), gendarmerie. Armed Forces – note: France is responsible for defense.

French Polynesia General Information

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