Philatelic Center of French Polynesia | Programs

French Polynesia

26 June 2020

Islands Views

French Polynesia: Islands Views, 26 June 2020. Images from GULFMANN STAMPS WORLD BLOG.

5F Raivavae:

Raivavae is one of the Austral Islands in French Polynesia. Its total land area including offshore islets is 17.9 km2 (6.9 sq mi). In the 2017 census it had a population of 903.[2] The island is of volcanic origin, and rises to 437 metres (1,434 ft) elevation at Mont Hiro.

Carbon-dating of archaeological remains allows settlement of these islands to be traced back to AD 1200–1450. The remains of some 100 marae platforms have been found on Ra`ivavae, at least 25 of them orientated to the rising and setting points of significant stars – a phenomenon potentially linked to the island’s proximity to the Tropic of Capricorn. More than 60 huge stone tiki statues once stood on this island.

,strong>ASA astronaut image of Raivavae, Austral Islands, French Polynesia. Photo taken on 19 March 2003.
Flag of Raivavae

The first sighting by Europeans was recorded by the Spanish naval officer Tomás Gayangos on board of the frigate “El Aguila” on 5 February 1775. Gayangos had taken over the command of the expedition of Domingo de Bonechea of 1774 after his death in Tahiti and was returning to the Viceroyalty of Peru. The main source describing this sighting is that of José Andía y Varela, pilot of the packet boat Jupiter that accompanied El Aguila in this return trip. On 6 February a boat was sent in, and made contact with the inhabitants at the shore edge, but landing was not made. Raivavae was charted as Santa Rosa by the Spaniards. The inhabitants said the name of their island was Oraibaba.

It was annexed by France in 1880.

The islands of Raivavae are administratively within the commune with the same name. Raivavae consists of the following associated communes:

  • Anatonu
  • Rairua-Mahanatoa
  • Vaiuru

80F Nuku Hiva:

Nuku Hiva (sometimes spelled “Nukahiva”) is the largest of the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia, an overseas country of France in the Pacific Ocean. It was formerly also known as Île Marchand and Madison Island.

Herman Melville wrote his book Typee based on his experiences in the Taipivai valley in the eastern part of Nuku Hiva. Robert Louis Stevenson’s first landfall on his voyage on the Casco was at Hatihe’u, on the north side of the island, in 1888.

Nuku Hiva is administratively part of the commune (municipality) of Nuku-Hiva, itself in the administrative subdivision of the Marquesas Islands.

The administrative centre of the commune of Nuku-Hiva and also of the administrative subdivision of the Marquesas Islands is the settlement of Taioha’e, located on the south side of Nuku Hiva, at the head of the bay of that same name.

Nuku Hiva island
Flag of Marquesas Islands

The primary diet of people tends to be breadfruit, taro, manioc, coconut and many kinds of fruit, which grow in abundance. Goats, fish and, more rarely, pigs, are the main sources of meat but there is a growing amount of local beef available. Imported food is also freely available, including apples, grapes, celery, and even sliced bread from New Zealand. Two local bakeries produce baguettes, another cheap staple. Considerable rice is also eaten. There are a great many wild pigs on the island as well as those reared on the agricultural college. The wild pigs are a cross between the Polynesian pig brought by the first settlers and the wild boar brought by the Europeans.

There is one jail on the island, which was generally used for ‘short stay’ internments such as the last 3 months of sentences and was also often altogether empty. Lately, however, prisoners can opt to do their full sentence here if they have no family on Tahiti, so the Nuku Hiva jail now has inmates all the time.

In 2001, Nuku Hiva was used as the filming location for the fourth season of the American reality competition series Survivor, airing in the United States in 2002.

100F Bora Bora:

Bora Bora is a 30.55 km² (12 sq mi) island group in the Leeward group in the western part of the Society Islands of French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of the French Republic in the Pacific Ocean. The main island, located about 230 kilometres (143 miles) northwest of Papeete, is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef. In the center of the island are the remnants of an extinct volcano rising to two peaks, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu, the highest point at 727 metres (2,385 feet). It is part of the commune of Bora-Bora, which also includes the atoll of Tūpai.

Bora Bora is a major international tourist destination, famous for its aqua-centric luxury resorts. The major settlement, Vaitape, is on the western side of the main island, opposite the main channel into the lagoon. Produce of the island is mostly limited to what can be obtained from the sea and the plentiful coconut trees, which were historically of economic importance for copra.

NASA astronaut image of Bora Bora, Gesellschaftsinseln, French Polynesia. Photo taken on 19 March 2003.

In ancient times the island was called “Pora pora mai te pora“, meaning “created by the gods” in the local Tahitian dialect. This was often abbreviated Pora Pora meaning simply “first born”. Because of ambiguities in the phonemes of the Tahitian language, this could also be pronounced Bola Bola or Bora Bora. When explorer Jacob Roggeveen first landed on the island, he and his crew adopted the name Bora Bora which has stood ever since.

The island was inhabited by Polynesian settlers around the 4th century[citation needed] The first European sighting was made by Jakob Roggeveen in 1722.

James Cook sighted the island on 29 July 1769, using a Tahitian navigator, Tupaia. The London Missionary Society arrived in 1820 and founded a Protestant church in 1890. Bora Bora was an independent kingdom until 1888 when its last queen Teriimaevarua III was forced to abdicate by the French who annexed the island as a colony.

In World War II the United States chose Bora Bora as a South Pacific military supply base, and an oil depot, airstrip, seaplane base, and defensive fortifications were constructed. Known as “Operation Bobcat”, it maintained a supply force of nine ships, 20,000 tons of equipment and nearly 7,000 men.

At least eight 7″/44 caliber guns, operated by elements of the 13th Coast Artillery Regiment (later the 276th Coast Artillery Battalion), were set up at strategic points around the island to protect it against potential military attack. Eight of these guns remain in the area.

However, the island saw no combat as the American presence on Bora Bora went uncontested over the course of the war. The base was officially closed on 2 June 1946. The World War II airstrip was never able to accommodate large aircraft, but it nonetheless was French Polynesia’s only international airport until Faa’a International Airport opened next to Papeete, Tahiti, in 1960.

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