[Country map of French Polynesia]

French Polynesia

(overseas territory of France)


Location: Oceania, archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from South America to Australia

Map references: Oceania

total area: 3,941 sq km
land area: 3,660 sq km
comparative area: 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

International disputes: none

Climate: tropical, but moderate

Terrain: mixture of rugged high islands and low islands with reefs

Natural resources: timber, fish, cobalt

Land use:
arable land: 1%
permanent crops: 19%
meadows and pastures: 5%
forest and woodland: 31%
other: 44%

Irrigated land: NA sq km

current issues: NA
natural hazards: occasional cyclonic storms in January
international agreements: NA

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: 219,999 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 36% (female 38,361; male 39,744)
15-64 years: 60% (female 64,034; male 69,024)
65 years and over: 4% (female 4,437; male 4,399) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.23% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 27.56 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 5.27 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 14.6 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.75 years
male: 68.32 years
female: 73.29 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.3 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: French Polynesian(s)
adjective: French Polynesian

Ethnic divisions: Polynesian 78%, Chinese 12%, local French 6%, metropolitan French 4%

Religions: Protestant 54%, Roman Catholic 30%, other 16%

Languages: French (official), Tahitian (official)

Literacy: age 14 and over can read and write but definition of literary not available (1977)
total population: 98%
male: 98%
female: 98%

Labor force: 76,630 employed (1988)


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

Digraph: FP

Type: overseas territory of France since 1946

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 Francois MITTERRAND (since 21 May 1981); High Commissioner of the Republic Paul RONCIERE (since 8 August 1994)
head of government: President of the Territorial Government of French Polynesia Gaston FLOSSE (since 10 May 1991); Deputy to the French Assembly and President of the Territorial Assembly Jean JUVENTIN (since NA November 1992); Territorial Vice President and Minister of Health Michel BUILLARD (since 12 September 1991)
cabinet: Council of Ministers; president submits a list of members of the Assembly for approval by them to serve as ministers

Legislative branch: unicameral
Territorial Assembly: elections last held 17 March 1991 (next to be held March 1996); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (41 total) People's Rally for the Republic (Gaullist) 18, Polynesian Union Party 12, New Fatherland Party 7, other 4
French Senate: elections last held 24 September 1989 (next to be held September 1998); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (1 total) party NA
French National Assembly: elections last held 21 and 28 March 1993 (next to be held NA March 1998); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (2 total) People's Rally for the Republic (Gaullist) 2

Judicial branch: Court of Appeal, Court of the First Instance, Court of Administrative Law

Political parties and leaders: People's Rally for the Republic (Tahoeraa Huiraatira), Gaston FLOSSE; Polynesian Union Party (includes Te Tiarama), Alexandre LEONTIEFF; Here Ai'a Party, Jean JUVENTIN; New Fatherland Party (Ai'a Api), Emile VERNAUDON; Polynesian Liberation Front (Tavini Hviraatira No Te Ao Maohi), Oscar TEMARU; Independent Party (Ia Mana Te Nunaa), Jacques DROLLET; other small parties

Member of: ESCAP (associate), FZ, ICFTU, SPC, WMO

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

US diplomatic representation: none (overseas territory of France)

Flag: the flag of France is used


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 20% of GDP and is a primary source of hard currency earnings.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $1.5 billion (1993 est.)

National product real growth rate: NA%

National product per capita: $7,000 (1993 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.7% (1991)

Unemployment rate: 10% (1990 est.)

revenues: $614 million
expenditures: $957 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1988)

Exports: $88.9 million (f.o.b., 1989)
commodities: coconut products 79%, mother-of-pearl 14%, vanilla, shark meat
partners: France 54%, US 17%, Japan 17%

Imports: $765 million (c.i.f., 1989)
commodities: fuels, foodstuffs, equipment
partners: France 53%, US 11%, Australia 6%, NZ 5%

External debt: $NA

Industrial production: growth rate NA%; accounts for 15% of GDP

capacity: 75,000 kW
production: 275 million kWh
consumption per capita: 1,189 kWh (1993)

Industries: tourism, pearls, agricultural processing, handicrafts

Agriculture: coconut and vanilla plantations; vegetables and fruit; poultry, beef, dairy products

Economic aid:
recipient: Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-88), $3.95 billion

Currency: 1 CFP franc (CFPF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique francs (CFPF) per US$1 - 96.25 (January 1995), 100.94 (1994), 102.96 (1993), 96.24 (1992), 102.57 (1991), 99.00 (1990); note - linked at the rate of 18.18 to the French franc

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 0 km

total: 600 km (1982)
paved: NA
unpaved: NA

Ports: Mataura, Papeete, Rikitea, Uturoa

Merchant marine:
total: 3 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 4,127 GRT/6,710 DWT
ships by type: passenger-cargo 2, refrigerated cargo 1
note: a subset of the French register allowing French-owned ships to operate under more liberal taxation and manning regulations than permissable under the main French register

total: 43
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 2
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 14
with paved runways under 914 m: 18
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 4


Telephone system: 33,200 telephones
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: 1 INTELSAT (Pacific Ocean) earth station

broadcast stations: AM 5, FM 2, shortwave 0
radios: 84,000

broadcast stations: 6
televisions: 26,400

Defense Forces

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

Note: defense is responsibility of France