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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.
Dependency status: overseas territory of France since 1946
Capital: Papeete
Currency: 1 Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique franc (CFPF) = 100 centimes

Geography of 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
total: 4,167 sq. km (118 islands and atolls)
land: 3,660 sq. km
water: 507 sq. km
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: 1%
permanent crops: 6%
permanent pastures: 5%
forests and woodland: 31%
other: 57% (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: occasional cyclonic storms in January
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 of French Polynesia

Population: 270,485 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  29.74%
15-64 years:  65.17%
65 years and over:  5.09%
Population growth rate: 1.72% 
Birth rate: 18.6 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 4.45 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: 3.09 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 9.12 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  75.01 years
male:  72.67 years
female:  77.46 years 
Total fertility rate: 2.23 children born/woman 
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)
definition: age 14 and over can read and write
total population: 98%
male: 98%
female: 98% (1977 est.)

French Polynesia Economy

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. Tourism accounts for about one-fourth of GDP and is a primary source of hard currency earnings. The small manufacturing sector primarily processes agricultural products. The territory benefited from a five-year (1994-98) development agreement with France aimed principally at creating new jobs.

GDP: purchasing power parity – $2.6 billion (1997 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 2.5% (1997 est.)
GDP – per capita: purchasing power parity – $10,800 (1997 est.)
GDP – composition by sector:
agriculture: 4%
industry: 18%
services: 78% (1997)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.5% (1994)
Labor force: 70,000 (1996)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture 13%, industry 19%, services 68% (1997)
Unemployment rate: 15% (1992 est.)
revenues: $1 billion
expenditures: $900 million, including capital expenditures of $185 million (1996)
Industries: tourism, pearls, agricultural processing, handicrafts
Electricity – production: 430 million kWh (1999)
Electricity – production by source:
fossil fuel:  51.16%
hydro:  48.84%
nuclear:  0%
other:  0% (1999)
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)
Economic aid – recipient: $367 million (1997)
Currency: Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique franc (XPF)

Map of French Polynesia