French Polynesia

Introduction 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. In recent years, French Polynesia's autonomy has been considerably expanded.
History

The French Polynesian island groups do not share a common history before the establishment of the French protectorate in 1889. The first French Polynesian islands to be settled by Polynesians were the Marquesas Islands in AD 300 and the Society Islands in AD 800. The Polynesians were organized in petty chieftainships. [2]

European discovery began in 1521 when the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan sighted Pukapuka in the Tuamotu Archipelago. Dutchman Jacob Roggeveen discovered Bora Bora in the Society Islands in 1722, and the British explorer Samuel Wallis visited Tahiti in 1767. The French explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville visited Tahiti in 1768, while the British explorer James Cook visited in 1769. Christian missions began with Spanish priests who stayed in Tahiti for a year from 1774; Protestants from the London Missionary Society settled permanently in Polynesia in 1797. [2][3]

King Pomare II of Tahiti was forced to flee to Moorea in 1803; he and his subjects were converted to Protestantism in 1812. French Catholic missionaries arrived on Tahiti in 1834; their expulsion in 1836 caused France to send a gunboat in 1838. In 1842, Tahiti and Tahuata were declared a French protectorate, to allow Catholic missionaries to work undisturbed. The capital of Papeete was founded in 1843. In 1880, France annexed Tahiti, changing the status from that of a protectorate to that of a colony. [4]

In the 1880s, France claimed the Tuamotu Archipelago, which formerly belonged to the Palmer dynasty, without formally annexing it. Having declared a protectorate over Tahuatu in 1842, the French regarded the entire Marquesas Islands as French. In 1885, France appointed a governor and established a general council, thus giving it the proper administration for a colony. The islands of Rimatara and Rurutu unsuccessfully lobbied for British protection in 1888, so in 1889 they were annexed by France. Postage stamps were first issued in the colony in 1892. The first official name for the colony was Etablissements De L'Oceanie (Settlements in Oceania); in 1903 the general council was changed to an advisory council and the colony's name was changed to Etablissements Francaises De L'Oceanie (French Settlements in Oceania).[5]

In 1940 the administration of French Polynesia recognised the Free French Forces and many Polynesians served in World War II. Unknown at the time to French and Polynesians, the Konoe Cabinet in Imperial Japan on September 16, 1940 included French Polynesia among the many territories which were to become Japanese possessions in the post-war world [6] - though in the course of the war in the Pacific the Japanese were not able to launch an actual invasion of the French islands.

In 1946, Polynesians were granted French citizenship and the islands' status was changed to an overseas territory; the islands' name was changed in 1957 to Polynésie Française (French Polynesia). In 1962, France's early nuclear testing ground of Algeria became independent and the Mururoa Atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago was selected as the new testing site; tests were conducted underground after 1974.[7]In 1977, French Polynesia was granted partial internal autonomy; in 1984, the autonomy was extended. French Polynesia became a full overseas collectivity of France in 2004. [3][8]

In September 1995, France stirred up widespread protests by resuming nuclear testing at Fangataufa atoll after a three-year moratorium. The last test was on January 27, 1996. On January 29, 1996, France announced it would accede to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and no longer test nuclear weapons.

Geography Location: Oceania, archipelagoes 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: total: 4,167 sq km (118 islands and atolls)
land: 3,660 sq km
water: 507 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly less than one-third the size of Connecticut
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 2,525 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 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: 0.75%
permanent crops: 5.5%
other: 93.75% (2005)
Irrigated land: 10 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards: occasional cyclonic storms in January
Environment - current issues: NA
Geography - note: includes five archipelagoes (4 volcanic, 1 coral); 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
Politics

Politics of French Polynesia takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic French overseas collectivity, whereby the President of French Polynesia is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Assembly of French Polynesia (the territorial assembly).

On September 14, 2007, the pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru, 63, was elected president of French Polynesia for the 3rd time in 3 years (with 27 of 44 votes cast in the territorial assembly).[10] He replaced former President Gaston Tong Sang, opposed to independence, who lost a no-confidence vote in the 31 August parliament after the longtime former president of French Polynesia, Gaston Flosse, hitherto opposed to independence, sided with his long ennemy Oscar Temaru to topple the government of Gaston Tong Sang. Oscar Temaru, however, had no stable majority in the Assembly of French Polynesia, and new territorial elections were held in February 2008 to solve the political crisis. The party of Gaston Tong Sang won the elections, but that didn't solve the political crisis: the two minority parties of Oscar Temaru and Gaston Flosse, who together have one more member in the territorial assembly that the political party of Gaston Tong Sang, allied to prevent Gaston Tong Sang from becoming president of French Polynesia. Gaston Flosse was then elected president of French Polynesia by the territorial assembly on February 23, 2008 with the support of the pro-independence party led by Oscar Temaru, while Oscar Temaru was elected speaker of the territorial assembly with the support of the anti-independence party led by Gaston Flosse. Both have formed a coallition cabinet. Many observers doubt that the alliance between the anti-independence Gaston Flosse and the pro-independence Oscar Temaru, designed to prevent Gaston Tong Sang from becoming president of French Polynesia, can last very long.[11]

Despite a local assembly and government, French Polynesia is not in a free association with France, like the Cook Islands with New Zealand or Puerto Rico with the United States. As a French overseas collectivity, the local government has no competence in justice, education, security and defense, directly provided and administered by the French State, the Gendarmerie and the French Military. The highest representant of the State in the territory is the High Commissioner of the Republic (French: Haut commissaire de la République).

French Polynesia also sends two deputies to the French National Assembly, one representing the Leeward Islands administrative subdivision, the Austral Islands administrative subdivision, the commune (municipality) of Moorea-Maiao, and the westernmost part of Tahiti (including the capital Papeete), and the other representing the central and eastern part of Tahiti, the Tuamotu-Gambier administrative division, and the Marquesas Islands administrative division. French Polynesia also sends one senator to the French Senate.

French Polynesians vote in the French presidential elections and at the 2007 French presidential election, in which the pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru openly called to vote for the Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal while the parties opposed to independence generally supported the center-right candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, the turnout in French Polynesia was 69.12% in the first round of the election and 74.67% in the second round. French Polynesians voters placed Nicolas Sarkozy ahead of Ségolène Royal in both rounds of the election (2nd round: Nicolas Sarkozy 51.9%; Ségolène Royal 48.1%).

People Population: 278,963 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 25.4% (male 36,223/female 34,677)
15-64 years: 68.2% (male 98,784/female 91,585)
65 years and over: 6.3% (male 8,933/female 8,761) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 28.3 years
male: 28.6 years
female: 28 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.461% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 16.41 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 4.61 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.81 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.045 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.079 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.02 male(s)/female
total population: 1.066 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 7.84 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 9.01 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.62 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 76.31 years
male: 73.88 years
female: 78.86 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.98 children born/woman (2007 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 10%, no religion 6%
Languages: French 61.1% (official), Polynesian 31.4% (official), Asian languages 1.2%, other 0.3%, unspecified 6% (2002 census)
Literacy: definition: age 14 and over can read and write
total population: 98%
male: 98%
female: 98% (1977 est.)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Overseas Lands of French Polynesia
conventional short form: French Polynesia
local long form: Pays d'outre-mer de la Polynesie Francaise
local short form: Polynesie Francaise
former: French Colony of Oceania
Dependency status: overseas lands of France; overseas territory of France from 1946-2004
Government type: NA
Capital: name: Papeete
geographic coordinates: 17 32 S, 149 34 W
time difference: UTC-10 (5 hours behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: none (overseas lands of France); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are five archipelagic divisions named Archipel des Marquises, Archipel des Tuamotu, Archipel des Tubuai, Iles du Vent, Iles Sous-le-Vent
Independence: none (overseas lands of France)
National holiday: Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
Constitution: 4 October 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system: the laws of France, where applicable, apply
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Nicolas SARKOZY (since 16 May 2007), represented by High Commissioner of the Republic Anne BOQUET (since September 2005)
head of government: President of French Polynesia Oscar TEMARU (since 13 September 2007); note - President TEMARU resigned on 27 January 2008; President of the Territorial Assembly Antony GEROS (since 9 May 2004)
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 for five-year terms (no term limits)
Legislative branch: unicameral Territorial Assembly or Assemblee Territoriale (57 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 27 January 2008 (first round) and 10 February 2008 (second round) (next to be held NA 2013)
election results: percent of vote by party - Our Home alliance 45.2%, Union for Democracy alliance 37.2%, Popular Rally (Tahoeraa Huiraatira) 17.2% other 0.5%; seats by party - Our Home alliance 27, Union for Democracy alliance 20, Popular Rally 10
note: one seat was elected to the French Senate on 27 September 1998 (next to be held in 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 in 2007); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP/RPR 1, UMP 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: Alliance for a New Democracy or ADN [Nicole BOUTEAU and Philip SCHYLE](includes the parties The New Star and This Country is Yours); Independent Front for the Liberation of Polynesia (Tavini Huiraatira) [Oscar TEMARU]; New Fatherland Party (Ai'a Api) [Emile VERNAUDON]; Our Home alliance; People's Rally for the Republic of Polynesia or RPR (Tahoeraa Huiraatira) [Gaston FLOSSE]; Union for Democracy alliance or UPD [Oscar TEMARU]
Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: FZ, ITUC, PIF (associate member), SPC, UPU, WMO
Diplomatic representation in the US: none (overseas lands of France)
Diplomatic representation from the US: none (overseas lands of France)
Flag description: two narrow red horizontal bands encase a wide white band; centered on the white band is a disk with a blue and white wave pattern on the lower half and a 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
Government - note: under certain acts of France, French Polynesia has acquired autonomy in all areas except those relating to police and justice, monetary policy, tertiary education, immigration, and defense and foreign affairs; the duties of its president are fashioned after those of the French prime minister
Demographics

Total population at the August 2007 census was 259,596 inhabitants.[1] At the 2007 census, 68.6% of the population of French Polynesia lived on the island of Tahiti alone.[1] The urban area of Papeete, the capital city, has 131,695 inhabitants (2007 census).

At the November 2002 census, 87.2% of people were born in French Polynesia, 9.5% were born in metropolitan France, 1.4% were born in overseas France outside of French Polynesia, and 1.9% were born in foreign countries.[13] At the 1988 census, the last census which asked questions regarding ethnicity, 66.5% of people were ethnically unmixed Polynesians, 7.1 % were Polynesians with light European or East Asian mixing, 11.9% were Europeans, 9.3% were people of mixed European and Polynesian descent, the so-called Demis (literally meaning "Half"), and 4.7% were East Asians (mainly Chinese).[14] The Europeans, the Demis and the East Asians are essentially concentrated on the island of Tahiti, particularly in the urban area of Papeete, where their share of the population is thus much more important than in French Polynesia overall.[14] Race mixing has been going on for more than a century already in French Polynesia, resulting in a rather mixed society. For example Gaston Flosse, the current leader of French Polynesia, is a Demi (European father from Lorraine and Polynesian mother).[15] His main opponent Gaston Tong Sang is a member of the East Asian (in his case Chinese) community.[16] Oscar Temaru, the pro-independence leader, is ethnically Polynesian (father from Tahiti, mother from the Cook Islands),[17] but he has admitted to also have Chinese ancestry.[18]

Despite a long tradition of race mixing, racial tensions have been growing in recent years, with politicians using a xenophobic discourse and fanning the flame of racial tensions.[19][18] The pro-independence politicians have long pointed the finger at the European community (Oscar Temaru, pro-independence leader and former president of French Polynesia, was for example found guilty of "racial discrimination" by the criminal court of Papeete in 2007 for having referred to the Europeans living in French Polynesia as "trash", "waste").[20] More recently, the Chinese community which controls many businesses in French Polynesia has been targeted in verbal attacks by the newly allied Gaston Flosse and Oscar Temaru in their political fight against Gaston Tong Sang, whose Chinese origins they emphasize in contrast with their Polynesian origins, despite the fact that they both have mixed origins (European and Polynesian for Flosse; Polynesian and Chinese for Temaru).

Economy Economy - overview: Since 1962, when France stationed military personnel in the region, French Polynesia has changed from a subsistence agricultural 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 benefits substantially from development agreements with France aimed principally at creating new businesses and strengthening social services.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $4.58 billion (2003 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $3.8 billion (2002)
GDP - real growth rate: 5.1% (2002)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $17,500 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 3.1%
industry: 19%
services: 76.9% (2005)
Labor force: 65,930 (December 2005)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 13%
industry: 19%
services: 68% (2002)
Unemployment rate: 11.7% (2005)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.1% (2006 est.)
Budget: revenues: $865 million
expenditures: $644.1 million (1999)
Agriculture - products: fish; coconuts, vanilla, vegetables, fruits, coffee; poultry, beef, dairy products
Industries: tourism, pearls, agricultural processing, handicrafts, phosphates
Industrial production growth rate: NA%
Electricity - production: 462 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 60.7%
hydro: 39.3%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 429.7 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption: 5,800 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 0 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 5,678 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Exports: $211 million f.o.b. (2005 est.)
Exports - commodities: cultured pearls, coconut products, mother-of-pearl, vanilla, shark meat
Exports - partners: France 46.3%, Japan 20.8%, Niger 12.8%, US 12.5% (2006)
Imports: $1.706 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)
Imports - commodities: fuels, foodstuffs, machinery and equipment
Imports - partners: France 52.7%, Singapore 14.9%, NZ 6.8%, US 6.6% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: $579.8 million (2004)
Debt - external: $NA
Market value of publicly traded shares: $NA
Currency (code): Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique franc (XPF)
Currency code: XPF
Exchange rates: Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique francs (XPF) per US dollar - NA (2007), 95.03 (2006), 95.89 (2005), 96.04 (2004), 105.66 (2003)
note: pegged at the rate of 119.25 XPF to the euro
Fiscal year: calendar year
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 53,600 (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 152,000 (2006)
Telephone system: general assessment: NA
domestic: NA
international: country code - 689; 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 repeaters) (1997)
Televisions: 40,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .pf
Internet hosts: 14,059 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 2 (2000)
Internet users: 65,000 (2006)
Transportation Airports: 54 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 37
over 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 27
under 914 m: 3 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 17
914 to 1,523 m: 9
under 914 m: 8 (2007)
Heliports: 1 (2007)
Roadways: total: 2,590 km
paved: 1,735 km
unpaved: 855 km (1999)
Merchant marine: total: 13 ships (1000 GRT or over) 23,684 GRT/17,291 DWT
by type: cargo 4, passenger 2, passenger/cargo 5, refrigerated cargo 1, roll on/roll off 1
registered in other countries: 2 (Wallis and Futuna 2) (2007)
Ports and terminals: Papeete
Military Military branches: no regular military forces; Gendarmerie and National Police Force
Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 69,679 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 55,305 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually: males age 18-49: 2,747 (2005 est.)
Military - note: defense is the responsibility of France
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: none