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 halted 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 halfway between South America and Australia

Geographic coordinates

15 00 S, 140 00 W

Map references



total: 4,167 sq km (118 islands and atolls; 67 are inhabited)
land: 3,827 sq km
water: 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


mean elevation: NA
elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Orohena 2,241 m

Natural resources

timber, fish, cobalt, hydropower

Land use

agricultural land: 12.5%
arable land 0.7%; permanent crops 6.3%; permanent pasture 5.5%
forest: 43.7%
other: 43.8% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

10 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

occasional cyclonic storms in January

Environment - current issues


Geography - note

includes five archipelagoes: four volcanic (Iles Gambier, Iles Marquises, Iles Tubuai, Society Islands) and one coral (Archipel des Tuamotu); 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 and Society


285,321 (July 2016 est.)


noun: French Polynesian(s)
adjective: French Polynesian

Ethnic groups

Polynesian 78%, Chinese 12%, local French 6%, metropolitan French 4%


French (official) 61.1%, Polynesian (official) 31.4%, Asian languages 1.2%, other 0.3%, unspecified 6% (2002 census)


Protestant 54%, Roman Catholic 30%, other 10%, no religion 6%

Age structure

0-14 years: 22.9% (male 33,600/female 31,727)
15-24 years: 16.03% (male 23,751/female 21,999)
25-54 years: 44.27% (male 64,759/female 61,562)
55-64 years: 9.13% (male 13,399/female 12,648)
65 years and over: 7.67% (male 10,592/female 11,284) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 42.2%
youth dependency ratio: 31.5%
elderly dependency ratio: 10.7%
potential support ratio: 9.3% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 31.5 years
male: 31.3 years
female: 31.7 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

0.91% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

15 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

5.1 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

-0.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)


urban population: 55.9% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 0.85% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

PAPEETE (capital) 133,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.94 male(s)/female
total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 4.7 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.2 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 77.2 years
male: 74.9 years
female: 79.6 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.9 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Drinking water source

urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 98.5% of population
rural: 98.5% of population
total: 98.5% of population
urban: 1.5% of population
rural: 1.5% of population
total: 1.5% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 34.2%
male: 31.4%
female: 38.5% (2007 est.)


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
former: French Colony of Oceania
etymology: the term "Polynesia" is an 18th-century construct composed of two Greek words, "poly" (many) and "nesoi" (islands), and refers to the more than 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean

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 democracy (Assembly of French Polynesia); an overseas collectivity of France


name: 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

Iles Australes, Iles du Vent, Iles Marquises, Iles Sous-le-Vent, Iles Tuamotu-Gambier


none (overseas lands of France)

National holiday

Fete de la Federation, 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


see France


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Francois HOLLANDE (since 15 May 2012), represented by High Commissioner of the Republic Rene BIDALL (since 30 May 2016)
head of government: President of French Polynesia Edouard FRITCH (since 12 September 2014)
cabinet: Council of Ministers approved by the Assembly from a list of its members submitted by the president
elections/appointments: French president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); high commissioner appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of Interior; French Polynesia president indirectly elected by Assembly of French Polynesia for a 5-year term (no term limits)

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Assembly of French Polynesia or Assemblee de la Polynesie Francaise (57 seats; elections held in two rounds; in the second round, 38 members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; the party receiving the most votes gets an additional 19 seats; members serve 5-year terms)
note: two seats were elected to the French Senate for a 6-year term on 20 September 2014 (next to be held in September 2022); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Popular Rally 1, People's Servant Party 1; two seats were elected to the French National Assembly for a 5-year term on 17 June 2012 (next to be held by June 2017); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 2; the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) is France's ruling party,
elections: last held on 21 April 2013 and 5 May 2013 (next to be held in 2018)
election results: percent of vote by party - Popular Rally 45.1%, UPD 29.3%, A Tia Porinetia 25.6%; seats by party - Popular Rally 38, UPD 11, A Tia Porinetia 8

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Court of Appeal or Cour d'Appel (composition NA); note - appeals beyond the French Polynesia Court of Appeal are heard by the Court of Cassation (in Paris)
judge selection and term of office: judges assigned from France normally for 3 years
subordinate courts: Court of the First Instance or Tribunal de Premiere Instance; Court of Administrative Law or Tribunal Administratif

Political parties and leaders

A Tia Porinetia [Teva ROHFRITSCH]
Alliance for a New Democracy or ADN (includes the parties The New Star and This Country is Yours)
New Fatherland Party (Ai'a Api) [Emile VERNAUDON]
Our Home alliance
People's Servant Party (Tavini Huiraatira) [Oscar TEMARU]
Popular Rally (Tahoeraa Huiraatira) [Gaston FLOSSE]
Tavini Huiraatira [James CHANCELOR]
Union for Democracy alliance or UPD [Oscar TEMARU]

International organization participation

ITUC (NGOs), PIF (associate member), SPC, UPU, WMO

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
note: 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 colors: red, white

National anthem

name: "Ia Ora 'O Tahiti Nui" (Long Live Tahiti Nui)
lyrics/music: Maeva BOUGES, Irmine TEHEI, Angele TEROROTUA, Johanna NOUVEAU, Patrick AMARU, Louis MAMATUI, and Jean-Pierre CELESTIN (the compositional group created both the lyrics and music)
note: 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, monetary policy, tertiary education, immigration, and defense and foreign affairs; the duties of its president are fashioned after those of the French prime minister


GDP (official exchange rate)

$7.15 billion (2012 est.)

Economy - overview

Since 1962, when France stationed military personnel in the region, French Polynesia has changed from a subsistence agricultural economy to one in which a high proportion of the work force is either employed by the military or supports the tourist industr

After growing at an average yearly rate of 4.2% from 1997-2007, GDP stagnated in 2008 and fell by 4.2% in 2009, marking French Polynesia’s entry into recession. GDP growth was positive in 2010-12. Following steady employment level increases between 2002 a

French Polynesia’s tourism-dominated service sector accounted for 85% of total value added for the economy in 2009, employing 80% of the workforce. A small manufacturing sector predominantly processes products from French Polynesia’s primary sector - 3% o

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$7.15 billion (2012 est.)
$6.982 billion (2011 est.)
$6.963 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

2.4% (2012 est.)
0.3% (2011 est.)
2.2% (2010 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$26,100 (2012 est.)
$26,000 (2010 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 2.5%
industry: 13%
services: 84.5% (2009)

Agriculture - products

coconuts, vanilla, vegetables, fruits, coffee; poultry, beef, dairy products; fish


tourism, pearls, agricultural processing, handicrafts, phosphates

Industrial production growth rate


Labor force

114,300 (2012 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 13%
industry: 19%
services: 68% (2013)

Unemployment rate

21.8% (2012)
11.7% (2010)

Population below poverty line

19.7% (2009 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $1.891 billion
expenditures: $1.833 billion (2012)

Taxes and other revenues

26.4% of GDP (2012)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

0.8% of GDP (2012)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.1% (2013 est.)
1.5% (2011 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares



$230 million (2013 est.)
$211 million (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities

cultured pearls, coconut products, mother-of-pearl, vanilla, shark meat

Exports - partners

Japan 35%, US 24%, Hong Kong 17%, France 9.1%, China 4.2% (2014)


$1.72 billion (2013 est.)
$1.706 billion (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities

fuels, foodstuffs, machinery and equipment

Imports - partners

France 24%, South Korea 10%, China 9.6%, USA 9.3%, New Zealand 8.5%, Singapore 8.2%, Australia 4% (2014)

Debt - external


Exchange rates

Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique francs (XPF) per US dollar -
89.85 (2013 est.)
90.56 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 116,981
electrification - total population: 59%
electrification - urban areas: 72%
electrification - rural areas: 45% (2012)

Electricity - production

800 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

700 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

200,000 kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

79% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

21% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

6,700 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

6,636 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

1.1 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 60,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 21 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 268,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 95 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular density is roughly 115 per 100 persons
international: country code - 689; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2011)

Broadcast media

the publicly owned French Overseas Network (RFO), which operates in France's overseas departments and territories, broadcasts on 2 TV channels and 1 radio station; 1 government-owned TV station; a small number of privately owned radio stations (2008)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 183,000
percent of population: 64.6% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 2 (registered in France)
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 21 (registered in France) (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

F-OH (2016)


54 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 45
over 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 33
under 914 m: 5 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 9
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 5 (2013)


1 (2013)


total: 2,590 km
paved: 1,735 km
unpaved: 855 km (1999)

Merchant marine

registered in other countries: 12 (Cambodia 1, France 11) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Papeete


Military branches

no regular military forces (2011)

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of France

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international