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French Polynesia ideal for exploring

By Catholic Online
July 1st, 2010
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

French Polynesia sits in the Pacific Ocean, halfway between South America and Australia. The nation is 118 volcanic and coral islands and atolls scattered across the waves. Many people mistakenly refer to French Polynesia as Tahiti, when in fact Tahiti is just the largest island, with half of that nation's population living there.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The many other islands that comprise French Polynesia are broken into five groups. Tahiti is in the Society Islands; the other four island groups are called the Tuamotu Archipelago, the Gambier Islands, the Marquesas Islands and the Tubuai islands.

The nation is one of stunning contrasts. The home to pristine lagoons and rugged peaks, French Polynesia is noted for its white, sandy beaches offset by dazzling blue azure waters.

The islands were first believed to be settled by immigrants from the Philippines and Indonesia 200 years before the birth of Christ. Europeans began arriving in the region in the 1500s. By the 199th Century, there was a rivalry between the French and the British for control of the islands. In 1957, all the islands became an overseas territory of France. French Polynesia has since gained more autonomy and self-governing powers since 1998. It officially remains an overseas territory under the French.

French Polynesia has a global reputation as a magical paradise, thanks to the honeymooners who have made Bora Bora and Tahiti destinations for luxury holidays. The region is also famous for scuba diving and surfing, and was once home for the post-Impressionist artist Paul Gaugin.

A little know fact is that the word "tattoo" originated on the island of Tahiti and is today still a practiced throughout the world today.

Tahiti's 118 islands have their own particular character. The inhabitants have adapted the ancient rhythms of the ocean and the sun to the 21st century. Most islands are only sparsely populated and forty of them remain uninhabited to this day.

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