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dimanche 6 mars 2016


The island of all dreams

Who hasn't dreamed at the mere mention of the name of Tahiti? But what do we really know about this island of French Polynesia?

Tahiti, seen by the colonial France
17 ° 31 '12 "S and 149 ° 33' 36" W ... Don't look, these geographical coordinates are those of the island the most mythical of our old planet Earth: Tahiti.

Everything has been said about this island like no other. Anything and everything.

The island of Tahiti and origins
It's now generally acquired by the scientific community that the settlement of the Polynesian Triangle (Hawaii, New Zealand and Easter Island) took place between the 5th century BC and the 5th century AD.

The island of Tahiti seen from space
These incredible sailors and their wonderful trips canoes came from Southeast Asia.

It was around the 3rd century AD they settled on the island of Tahiti, whose they were the earliest inhabitants.

History of Tahiti from the contact
Turns out now, the first European to anchor in these waters was a British, Samuel Wallis. It was on June 17th, 1767, in Matavai Bay.

A Va'a, an integral part of Polynesian lagoons
On April 2, 1768, a French, Antoine de Bougainville succeeded him at the exact same anchor. It remains only ten days, but back with the name of "New Cythera", giving birth, on the way, to Polynesian myth and that of vahine.

It was followed in April 1769 by the Englishman James Cook...

Here's where Cook and Bougainville anchored for the first time
Later, in the 1790s, Tahiti is an ideal stopover for whalers on their way to their hunting campaigns. This will be the first real upheaval in Tahitian society.

The first missionaries of the London Missionary Society landed at the tip Venus, on March 5, 1797. This is the second upheaval, certainly the deepest and most total, never known by the Polynesians since their installation on this island.

Remember Captain Cook… 
Tahiti, then Pomare VI's kingdom, is officially annexed to France by Admiral Du Petit-Thouars, on November 6, 1843.

From 1963 to 1995, Polynesia, became French, hosts the Pacific Test Centre (CEP). In other words, the territory became a laboratory for nuclear bomb so dear to General de Gaulle.

Since 2004, French Polynesia enjoys the status of Overseas Country (POM), a statute specifically designed for it. The island of Tahiti is the economic and political capital city region.

Geography of Tahiti
By far the largest of all the islands of French Polynesia, Tahiti offers 1045 square kilometers of land mass partially protected by a coral reef.

But let us make no mistake: out of this surface, only 150 km² are inhabited and operated. In reality a narrow coastal strip almost going almost around the island.

Tahiti, from the inner side
Otherwise, the entire interior of the island consists of steep mountains with sharp peaks and dizzy slopes, remnants of volcanoes that formed Tahiti.

Thus, Mont Orohena (2241 meters), Mount Aorai (2066 m), Mount Marau (1,493 m) and Tiara (1321 m) are the highest peaks of the whole Polynesia.

Tahiti consists of a main island (Tahiti nui *) and a peninsula (Tahiti Iti **) connected by a narrow isthmus. On this peninsula stands the Mont Ronui which reaches 1332 meters. The peninsula is the least populated part of Tahiti.

Tahiti: the City Lights
At the 2007 census, out of the 259,706 inhabitants of French Polynesia, 178,173 lived in Tahiti, namely almost 70% of the overall population of the 118 Polynesian islands...

City of Punaauia from Mount Marau
Northwest of the island is the so-called urban area. This community gathers, around the administrative and political capital of the city of Papeete (26 050 inhabitants) and starting from the east, the municipalities of Mahina, Arue, Pirae, Faa'a, Punaauia and Paea.

These seven cities alone are thought to house more than 130 000 people.

Also in this urban area are located: the only international airport of French Polynesia (Tahiti - Faa'a), the only international port able of accommodating tankers and container ships (Papeete), customs services, all the political powers and administrative departments as well as most of the commercial activities of Polynesia.

Tahiti-Faa'a Airport
There are also the only cinemas, theaters and night clubs of the country, which explains why the youth of remote islands tend to want to settle there, rather than stay on their home islands.

It's evenly true that outside of Tahiti, there is little hope of finding employment.

Visit Tahiti
The first contacts with the island of Tahiti are made through the urban area what, we must admit, doesn't sound appetizing to see more.

Without any architectural interest and without character, this poorly maintained urban area has all the characteristics of a city of the Third World, victim of a savage urbanization.

And here, that's Tahiti!
Yet it would be a huge mistake to stop there. Tahiti conceals indeed many wonders offered to those who take the trouble (and time) to think outside the box.

If public beaches on the island are few and uninviting, the wild coast of the East and of Tahiti Iti offer sumptuous scenery.

Tahiti, from the sea to the mountains
Many walks in the mountains or in the countless valleys would delight the pickiest people. And if they are too rarely highlighted, Tahiti also hides a multitude of historical sites of great interest.

However, it is essential to secure the services of a local guide so much the most beautiful places on the island are difficult to access and poorly or ill-appointed.

One of many waterfalls of Tahiti 
Dare to carve through the lush valleys. And then, Tahiti will offer you what she more marvelous: the freshness of a waterfall amidst exuberant vegetation imbued with incredible fragrances...

* Nui: great
** Iti: small
Consult the following web addresses:

An article of Julien Gué
Translated from French by Monak

Copyright Julien Gué. Ask for the author’s agreement before any reproduction of the text or the images on Internet or traditional press.

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