French Polynesia ( (listen); French: Polynésie française [pɔlinezi fʁɑ̃sɛz]; Tahitian: Pōrīnetia Farāni) is an overseas collectivity of France and its sole overseas country. It comprises 118 geographically dispersed islands and atolls stretching over more than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) in the South Pacific Ocean. The total land area of French Polynesia is 4,167 square kilometres (1,609 sq mi).
French Polynesia is divided into five groups of islands:
- the Society Islands archipelago, comprising the Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands;
- the Tuamotu Archipelago;
- the Gambier Islands;
- the Marquesas Islands; and
- the Austral Islands.
Among its 118 islands and atolls, 67 are inhabited. Tahiti, which is in the Society Islands group, is the most populous island, being home to nearly 69% of the population of French Polynesia as of 2017. Papeete, located on Tahiti, is the capital of French Polynesia. Although not an integral part of its territory, Clipperton Island was administered from French Polynesia until 2007.
Hundreds of years after the Great Polynesian Migration, European explorers began traveling through the region, visiting the islands of French Polynesia on several occasions. Traders and whaling ships also visited. In 1842, the French took over the islands and established a French protectorate that they called Établissements français d'Océanie (EFO) (French Establishments/Settlements of Oceania).
In 1946, the EFO became an overseas territory under the constitution of the French Fourth Republic, and Polynesians were granted the right to vote through citizenship. In 1957, the EFO were renamed French Polynesia. In 1983 French Polynesia became a member of the Pacific Community, a regional development organization. Since 28 March 2003, French Polynesia has been an overseas collectivity of the French Republic under the constitutional revision of article 74, and later gained, with law 2004-192 of 27 February 2004, an administrative autonomy, two symbolic manifestations of which are the title of the President of French Polynesia and its additional designation as an overseas country.
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