Geographic and Governmental Profile of French Polynesia

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.
Oceania, five archipelagoes (Archipel Des Tuamotu, Iles Gambier, Iles Marquises, Iles Tubuai, Society Islands) in the South Pacific Ocean about half way between South America and Australia
Geographic coordinates
15 00 S, 140 00 W
Continent / Subcontinent
4,167 sq km (118 islands and atolls)
3,827 sq km
340 sq km
Area - comparative
slightly less than one-third the size of Connecticut
Land boundaries
0 km
2,525 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
12 nm
exclusive economic zone:
200 nm
tropical, but moderate
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:
permanent crops:
93.75% (2005)
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Irrigated land
10 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards
occasional cyclonic storms in January
Environment - current issues
Geography - note
includes five archipelagoes (four volcanic, one 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
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
French Colony of Oceania
Dependency status
overseas lands of France; overseas territory of France from 1946-2003; overseas collectivity of France since 2003, though it is often referred to as an overseas country due to its degree of autonomy
Government type
parliamentary representive democratic French overseas collectivity
Papeete (located on Tahiti)
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 second order administrative units named Iles Australes, Iles du Vent, Iles Marquises, Iles Sous le Vent, Iles Tuamotu et Gambier
none (overseas lands of France)
National holiday
Bastille Day, 14 July (1789); note - the local holiday is Internal Autonomy Day, 29 June (1880)
4 October 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system
the laws of France, where applicable, apply
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state:
President Francois HOLLANDE (since 15 May 2012), represented by High Commissioner of the Republic Richard DIDIER (since 24 January 2011)
head of government:
President of French Polynesia Oscar TEMARU (since 1 April 2011); President of the Assembly of French Polynesia Jacqui DROLLET (since 14 April 2011)
Council of Ministers; president submits a list of members of the Assembly for approval by them to serve as ministers
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 French Polynesia government and the president of the Assembly of French Polynesia elected by the members of the assembly for five-year terms (no term limits)
Legislative branch
unicameral Assembly of French Polynesia or Assemblee de la Polynesia francaise (57 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
last held on 27 January 2008 (first round) and 10 February 2008 (second round) (next to be held in 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
two seats were elected to the French Senate on 21 September 2008 (next to be held in September 2014); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 1, independent 1; two seats were elected to the French National Assembly on 10-17 June 2007 (next to be held on 10 and 17 2012); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 2
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 (includes the parties The New Star and This Country is Yours); New Fatherland Party (Ai'a Api); Our Home alliance; People's Servant Party (Tavini Huiraatira); Popular Rally (Tahoeraa Huiraatira); Union for Democracy alliance or UPD
Political pressure groups and leaders
International organization participation
ITUC, PIF (associate member), SPC, UPU
Diplomatic representation in the US
none (overseas lands of France)
Diplomatic representation from the US
none (overseas lands of France)
Flag description
two red horizontal bands encase a wide white band in a 1:2:1 ratio; centered on the white band is a disk with a blue and white wave pattern depicting the sea on the lower half and a gold and white ray pattern depicting the sun on the upper half; a Polynesian canoe rides on the wave pattern; the canoe has a crew of five represented by five stars that symbolize the five island groups; red and white are traditional Polynesian colors
similar to the red-white-red flag of Tahiti, the largest of the islands in French Polynesia, which has no emblem in the white band; the flag of France is used for official occasions
National symbol(s)
outrigger canoe
National anthem
"Ia Ora 'O Tahiti Nui" (Long Live Tahiti Nui)
Maeva BOUGES, Irmine TEHEI, Angele TEROROTUA, Johanna NOUVEAU, Patrick AMARU, Louis MAMATUI and Jean-Pierre CELESTIN
adopted 1993; serves as a local anthem; as a territory of France, "La Marseillaise" is official (see France)
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
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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