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French Polynesia
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French Polynesia

Country Profile

Capital City: Papeete on the island of Tahiti, Society Islands.

Local Time: UTC -10h

Location: Oceania, archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, south of Hawaii and east of Australia.
Area: 4,167 sq km (118 islands and atolls).
Terrain: Volcanic rugged high islands and low islands with coral reefs.

Climate: Tropical; dry season (May to October), rainy season (November to April).

Type: parliamentary democratic dependency.
Overseas territory of France since 1946.
Chief of state: President Jacques CHIRAC of France (since 17 May 1995).

Nationality: Noun and adjective--French Polynesian(s)
Population: (2004 est.) 260 000.
Ethnic groups: Polynesian 78%, Chinese 12%, local French 6%, metropolitan French 4%
Religions: Protestant 54%, Roman Catholic 30%, other 10%, no religion 6%
Languages: Tahitian (official), French (official),
Literacy: 98%


Currency: Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique franc (XPF)

Natural resources: Timber, fish, cobalt, pearls, hydropower.

Agriculture products: Coconuts, vanilla, vegetables, fruits; poultry, beef, dairy products, coffee.

Industries: Tourism, pearls, agricultural processing, handicrafts, phosphates.

Exports partners:
France 66.3%, Japan 16.1%, USA 9.1% (2003)

Imports partners: France 59.9%, Australia 11.9%, New Zealand 6%, USA 6% (2003)

Internet Links

Official Sites of French Polynesia

Présidence du Gouvernement de la Polynésie Française

Directory of French representations abroad (in French)

Institut de la Statistique de la Polynésie Française (ISPF)

Map of French Polynesia

Map of Oceania and the Pacific Islands


French Polynesia

Background:  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

Location:  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:  Oceania

Area:   507 sq km land: Area - comparative:  slightly less than one-third
the size of Connecticut

Land boundaries:  0 km

Coastline:  2,525 km

Maritime claims:  exclusive economic zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 12 NM

Climate:  tropical, but moderate

Terrain:  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:  NA

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

Population:  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:   77.69 years (2002 est.)  male: Total fertility
rate:  2.18 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  NA%

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  NA

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  NA

Nationality:  noun: French Polynesian(s) adjective: French Polynesian

Ethnic groups:  Polynesian 78%, Chinese 12%, local French 6%, metropolitan
French 4%

Religions:  Protestant 54%, Roman Catholic 30%, other 16%

Languages:  French (official), Tahitian (official)

Literacy:  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:  NA

Capital:  Papeete

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: Independence:  none (overseas territory of France)

National holiday:  Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)

Constitution:  28 September 1958 (French Constitution)

Legal system:  based on French system

Suffrage:  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)

Political pressure groups and leaders:  NA

International organization participation:  ESCAP (associate), FZ, ICFTU,

Diplomatic representation in the US:  none (overseas territory of France)

Diplomatic representation from the US:  none (overseas territory of

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.

GDP:  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%

Population below poverty line:  NA%

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%

Unemployment rate:  NA%

Budget:  revenues: $1 billion expenditures: $900 million, including
capital expenditures of $185 million (1996)

Industries:  tourism, pearls, agricultural processing, handicrafts

Industrial production growth rate:  NA%

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

Exports:  $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)

Imports:  $749 million (f.o.b., 1999)

Imports - commodities:  fuels, foodstuffs, equipment

Imports - partners:  France 53%, US 13%, Australia 10% (1999)

Debt - external:  $NA

Economic aid - recipient:  $367 million (1997)

Currency:  Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique franc (XPF)

Currency code:  XPF

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)

Radios:  128,000 (1997)

Television broadcast stations:  7 (plus 17 low-power repeaters) (1997)

Televisions:  40,000 (1997)

Internet country code:  .pf

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  2 (2000)

Internet users:  5,000 (2000)

Transportation French Polynesia

Railways:  0 km

Highways:  total: 792 km paved: 264 km unpaved: 528 km (2000)

Waterways:  none

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.)

Airports:  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:  none

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

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