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French Polynesia (Polynesie Francaise) is an archipelago of islands that is an overseas dependent territory of France in the South Pacific Ocean about one-half of the way from South America to Australia.
It 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
Map of French Polynesia
There are 5 archipelagic regions:
Tropical, but moderate. Natural hazards : occasional cyclonic storms in January. Very humid.
Mixture of rugged high islands and low islands with reefs.
The Polynesians inhabited these islands for several hundred years before their discovery by western explorers.
The British discovered Tahiti in the mid 1760's and Captain Cook visited there in 1769 to observe the Transit of Venus before sailing on to the south and west in search of the fabled Terra Australus Incognita with the assistance of a Polynesian navigator.
The French annexed various Polynesian island groups during the 19th century.
During the 1960's and 1970's, the French conducted atmospheric in the islands, primarily at Mururoa atoll. Testing later moved underground after international protests from other Pacific countries, including a flotilla of yachts and a warship from New Zealand to monitor tests in 1974. Testing continued into the early 1990's, despite attempts to disrupt them by enviromental activists. 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 the islanders have been working towards autonomy and economic independence from France. However, the process is a gradual one and is expected to take a decade or two to occur.
Air Tahiti fly from Papeete to Bora Bora about six times every day. Takes only 45 minutes from Papeete.
The official languages are French and Tahitian.
Voluntary service: Volontariat Civil à l'Aide Technique (VCAT). Conditions: you must be French or from another EU-member state or a country belonging to the European Economic Area. You must be over 18 and under 28 years old (inclusive). You must not have had your civic rights revoked by a court or have been convicted of certain offences. VCAT (http://www.outre-mer.gouv.fr/outremer/front?id=outremer/a_votre_service/volontariat_civil___l_aide_technique_1045663353938/publi_P_vcat_remise_en_forme_1084201024219)