French Polynesia
(overseas territory of France)
[Country Flag of French Polynesia]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of French Polynesia]

French Polynesia


[Top of Page]

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: Mount Orohena 2,241 m

Natural resources: timber, fish, cobalt

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

Environment—international agreements:
party to: NA
signed, but not ratified: 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


[Top of Page]

Population: 237,844 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 33% (male 40,264; female 38,770)
15-64 years: 62% (male 77,011; female 71,100)
65 years and over: 5% (male 5,347; female 5,352) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.81% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 22.67 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 5 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 0.39 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 13.67 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.25 years
male: 69.87 years
female: 74.75 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.71 children born/woman (1998 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, but definition of literacy not available
total population: 98%
male: 98%
female: 98% (1977 est.)


[Top of Page]

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

National 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 of France Jacques CHIRAC (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: high commissioner appointed by the president of France 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 March 2001)
election results: percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—People's Rally for the Republic (Gaullist) 22, Polynesian Liberation Front 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: People's Rally for the Republic (Tahoeraa Huiraatira) [Gaston FLOSSE]; Polynesian Union Party (includes Te Tiarama and Pupu Here Ai'a Party) [Jean JUVENTIN]; Independent Front for the Liberation of Polynesia (Tavini Huiraatira) [Oscar TEMARU]; New Fatherland Party (Ai'a Api) [Emile VERNAUDON]; Independent Party (Ia Mana Te Nunaa) [Jacques DROLLET]; Te Aratia Ote Nunaa (Tinomana Ebb); Haere i Mua [Alexandre LEONTIEFF]; Te e'a No Maohi Nui [Jean-Marius RAAPOTO]; Pupu Taina [Michel LAW]; Entente Polynesian [Arthur CHUNG]; Centrist Union or UC

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


[Top of Page]

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 20% of GDP and is a primary source of hard currency earnings. The small manufacturing sector primarily processes agricultural products. The territory will continue to benefit from a five-year (1994-98) development agreement with France aimed principally at creating new jobs.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$1.76 billion (1995 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: NA%

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$8,000 (1995 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 4%
industry: 18%
services: 78% (1992 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 1.5% (1994)

Labor force:
total: 118,744 (of which 70,044 are employed) (1988)
by occupation: agriculture 13%, industry 19%, services 68% (1992 est.)

Unemployment rate: 15% (1992 est.)

revenues: $636 million
expenditures: $643 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1994)

Industries: tourism, pearls, agricultural processing, handicrafts

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity—capacity: 79,000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 330 million kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 1,500 kWh (1995)

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

total value: $245 million (f.o.b., 1994)
commodities: cultured pearls 53.8%, coconut products, mother-of-pearl, vanilla, shark meat (1992)
partners: France 33%, US 8.5% (1994)

total value: $967 million (c.i.f., 1994)
commodities: fuels, foodstuffs, equipment
partners: France 44.7%, US 13.9% (1994)

Debt—external: $NA

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $NA

Currency: 1 CFP franc (CFPF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique francs (CFPF) per US$1—110.60 (January 1998), 106.11 (1997), 93.00 (1996), 90.75 (1995), 100.94 (1994), 102.96 (1993); note—linked at the rate of 18.18 to the French franc

Fiscal year: calendar year


[Top of Page]

Telephones: 33,200 (1983 est.)

Telephone system:
domestic: NA
international: satellite earth station—1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 5, FM 2, shortwave 0

Radios: 116,000 (1992 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 6

Televisions: 35,000 (1992 est.)


[Top of Page]

Railways: 0 km

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

Ports and harbors: 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 (1997 est.)

Airports: 43 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 25
over 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 14
under 914 m: 4 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 18
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 11 (1997 est.)


[Top of Page]

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

Military—note: defense is the responsibility of France

Transnational Issues

[Top of Page]

Disputes—international: none