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French Polynesia

(overseas territory of France)

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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.


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

  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
  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.)

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


Population: 249,110 (July 2000 est.)

Age structure
  0-14 years: 30% (male 38,736; female 37,197)
  15-64 years: 65% (male 83,986; female 76,973)
  65 years and over: 5% (male 6,127; female 6,091) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.78% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 19.01 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 4.41 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: 3.14 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 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 (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 9.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
  total population: 74.79 years
  male: 72.47 years
  female: 77.22 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.28 children born/woman (2000 est.)

  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.)


Country name
  conventional long form: Territory of French Polynesia
  conventional short form: French Polynesia
  local long form: Territoire de la Polynesie Francaise
  local short form: Polynesie Francaise

Data code: FP

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: Clipperton Island is administered by France from French Polynesia)

Independence: none (overseas territory of France)

National holiday: National Day, Taking of the Bastille, 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 Paul RONCIERE (since NA 1994)
  head of government: President of the Territorial Government of French Polynesia Gaston FLOSSE (since 4 April 1991); President of the Territorial Assembly Justin ARAPARI (since 13 May 1996)
  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 seven-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 (41 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
  elections: last held 12 May 1996 (next to be held NA 2001)
  election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - People's Rally for the Republic (Gaullist) 22, Independent Front for the Liberation of Polynesia 10, New Fatherland Party 5, other 4 (Note: one seat was elected to the French Senate on 24 September 1989 (next to be held NA September 1998); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UC 1; two seats were elected to the French National Assembly on 25 May - 1 June 1997 (next to be held NA 2002); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - People's Rally for the Republic (Gaullist) 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: Centrist Union or UC [leader NA]; Entente Polynesian [Arthur CHUNG]; Haere i Mua [Alexandre LEONTIEFF]; Independent Front for the Liberation of Polynesia (Tavini Huiraatira) [Oscar TEMARU]; Independent Party (Ia Mana Te Nunaa) [Jacques DROLLET]; New Fatherland Party (Ai'a Api) [Emile VERNAUDON]; People's Rally for the Republic (Tahoeraa Huiraatira) [Gaston FLOSSE]; Polynesian Union Party (includes Te Tiarama and Pupu Here Ai'a Party) [Jean JUVENTIN]; Pupu Taina [Michel LAW]; Te Aratia Ote Nunaa (Tinomana Ebb); Te e'a No Maohi Nui [Jean-Marius RAAPOTO]

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

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

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

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 - 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: NA%

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $10,800 (1997 est.)

GDP - composition by sector
  agriculture: 4%
  industry: 18%
  services: 78% (1997)

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: 118,744 (of which 70,044 are employed) (1988)

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

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity - production: 360 million kWh (1998)

Electricity - production by source
  fossil fuel: 59.72%
  hydro: 40.28%
  nuclear: 0%
  other: 0% (1998)

Electricity - consumption: 335 million kWh (1998)

Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1998)

Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1998)

Agriculture - products: coconuts, vanilla, vegetables, fruits; poultry, beef, dairy products

Exports: $212 million (f.o.b., 1996)

Exports - commodities: cultured pearls 50%, coconut products, mother-of-pearl, vanilla, shark meat (1997)

Exports - partners: US 11%, France 6% (1997)

Imports: $860 million (c.i.f., 1996)

Imports - commodities: fuels, foodstuffs, equipment

Imports - partners: France 44.7%, US 13.9% (1994)

Debt - external: $NA

Economic aid - recipient: $450.4 million (1995)

Currency: 1 Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique franc (CFPF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique francs (CFPF) per US$1 - 117.67 (January 2000), 111.93 (1999), 107.25 (1998), 106.11 (1997), 93.00 (1996), 90.75 (1995); note - linked at the rate of 18.18 CFPFs to the French franc

Fiscal year: calendar year


Telephones - main lines in use: 32,000 (1995)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 4,000 (1995)

Telephone system
  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 Service Providers (ISPs): NA


Railways: 0 km

  total: 792 km
  paved: 792 km
  unpaved: 0 km (1995 est.)

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 (1999 est.)

Airports: 45 (1999 est.)

Airports - with paved runways
  total: 30
  over 3,047 m: 2
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
  914 to 1,523 m: 17
  under 914 m: 6 (1999 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways
  total: 15
  914 to 1,523 m: 5
  under 914 m: 10 (1999 est.)


Military branches: French Forces (includes Army, Navy, Air Force), Gendarmerie

Military - note: defense is the responsibility of France

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: none

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