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French Polynesia

Geography & Topography

Capital: Papeete

Area: 3,660 km²

Population: 267,000

Language: French, Tahitian

Religion: Protestant, Catholic

Currency: Franc CFP (Comptoir Francais du Pacifique)



Situated in the South Pacific Ocean midway between South America and Australia, the French Polynesia is a group of 118 idyllic islands. However there are five archipelagos, the Society Islands, the Austral, the Tuamotu, the Marquesas and the Gambier. European exploration began in the 1500s. French Polynesia became a French Overseas Territory in the middle of the twentieth century.

To honour Tohu the god of tattoo, who painted the oceans’ fish in beautiful colours and patterns, the most part of the population has a tattoo, which is a proof and a sign of beauty.

Their original skills are different items such as weaving, quilting, wooden sculptures and bowls, drums, tapa, carvings, and hand-dyed pareu.

The canoe has an important role in the Tahitian life, honored in colorful races and festivals throughout the islands.

Performing Arts


Always accompanied by traditional musical instruments, dances were directly linked with all aspects of life. The traditional song is the ‘himene ru’au’, it’s a chorus and a solist with a slow tempo A Cappella. Nowadays Tahitian music combines Polynesian rhythm and Western melodies. Choir singing and drumming are two main characteristics of Polynesian music.

The most recognizable instruments in traditional French Polynesian music are:


Tariparau: The tari parau is a type of bass drum from Polynesia which is hit with a felt drumstick and produces bass and dull tones. It can also be hit with hands to give little offbeats or to attenuate vibrations.







Nose Flute: The nose flute is a very popular instrument in French Polynesia. It is made of a single hollow piece of bamboo  which has a hole at the node area for the breath. It contains three fingering holes of which one is close to the breathing section.










Ote’a: The wonderful « Ote’a » dance is from the Polynesian Culture. It is characterized by fast movements from the hips on dynamic drum music which brings a feeling of a intensity and dynamism to the audience. They are used for joy, to welcome a visitor, to pray to a god, to challenge an enemy, or to seduce a mate. Modern Tahitian music is enjoyable as well, with a sound that often blends Polynesian rhythm and Western melody.





Some interesting facts:

  • Polynesia means “many islands”
  • The national flower is the Tiare, usually the Thaitian wear this flower behind one ear.
  • Mont Orohena, on Tahiti, is the highest point in French Polynesia (2,241 m).
  • Moorea is known as “The Island of Love,” and Bora Bora as “The Romantic Island.”
  • There are no poisonous snakes or insects in French Polynesia.

Community of Panama in Australia:

More information on the community of Panama: