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 suspended in January 1996. In recent years, French Polynesia’s autonomy has been considerably expanded.


Location: Oceania, archipelagoes in the South Pacific Ocean about half way between South America and Australia
Geographic coordinates: 15 00 S, 140 00 W
Population:  274,512 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 23.5% (male 35,376/female 33,840)

15-64 years: 69.3% (male 105,823/female 98,597)

65 years and over: 7.2% (male 10,742/female 10,557) (2011 est.)

Median age: Total: 29.8 years

male: 29.8 years

female: 29.8 years (2012 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 PolynesieFrancaise

local short form: PolynesieFrancaise

former: French Colony of Oceania

Dependency status: overseas lands of France; overseas territory of France from 1946-2004
Government type: NA
Capital: name: Papeete

geographic coordinates: 17 32 S, 149 34 W

time difference: UTC-10 (5 hours behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Telephones – main lines in use: 54,900 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 215,900 (2009)
Telephone system: general assessment: NA

domestic: NA

international: country code – 689; satellite earth station – 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)

Airports53 (2012)

Airports – with paved runways: total: 46 

over 3,047 m: 2 

1,524 to 2,437 m: 5 

914 to 1,523 m: 34 

under 914 m: 5 (2012)

Military branches: no regular military forces; Gendarmerie and National Police Force (2011)
Manpower available for military service: Males age 16-49: 82,722 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: Males age 16-49: 67,363

females age 16-49: 66,053 (2010 est.)


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 industry. With the halt of French nuclear testing in 1996, the military contribution to the economy fell sharply.


Tourism accounts for about one-fourth of GDP and is a primary source of hard currency earnings. Other sources of income are pearl farming and deep-sea commercial fishing. The small manufacturing sector primarily processes agricultural products. The territory benefits substantially from development agreements with France aimed principally at creating new businesses and strengthening social services.