Tahiti and other islands of French Polynesia were among the last places in the world inhabited by man, and after more than a thousand years have been among the last European colonization. Nobody knows where, and why ancient peoples migrated here. The modern view is that sea travelers went to the Ministers of the Malay Archipelago and the migration itself was caused, most likely, territorial conflicts and overpopulation. Whatever the reason, the fact that traveling by sea thousands of miles away was unheard of achievement, which the Europeans were able to repeat only after more than a thousand years.


C From 300's BC. e. become colonized with all modern large islands of French Polynesia, and the other islands in the South Pacific. This region is called "Polynesian Triangle" and includes Hawaii in the north, Easter Island in the south-east and New Zealand to the south-west. As a result of these migrations, Native Hawaiians, the Maori of New Zealand and the indigenous people of French Polynesia are all descended from common ancestors, speaking close enough to each other language.

Polynesian migration has become possible due to the outrigger (outrigger boat). Length of about twenty or thirty feet, the ancient Polynesians packed their outriggers coconuts, uru (breadfruit), taro (sweet potatoes), sugar cane, took with them dogs, pigs, chickens and whole families traveling to remote places. Application of knowledge of the orientation in the wind, currents and stars, experienced sailors were able to overcome a thousand kilometers.


Before the arrival of Europeans, Tahiti and other islands of the modern French Polynesia had no centralized authority. The territory was divided into a plurality of chiefdoms - autonomous political entities encompassing several villages under the authority of the supreme leader. Several chiefdoms concluded alliances with each other, based on blood ties of their rulers, and constantly at odds with other chiefdoms over control of territory and resources.

The social structure of chiefdom based on blood relations, that is, the status of each of its members was conditioned by how close relative of the leader he was. Leaders considered descendants of Polynesian gods and holders of mana (supernatural power). However, the rulers of chiefdoms had absolute power, important decisions were made at the general meetings, especially during the war.

Organization of life traditional Polynesian society revolved around the marae, places of worship in the open air, perform functions similar structures in other Polynesian societies. These marae were at the center of the spiritual and social life of the Polynesian community: here prayed to the gods, erected and overthrew leaders declare war and make peace, to celebrate birthdays and commemorate the dead. There was a hierarchy of marae, from the simple to the royal family.

Taboo (system of prohibitions) covered and regulate all spheres of life of the Polynesian Society. To break the taboo meant to incur the curse, the punishment for the offender - death.

During early European contact, the London Missionary Society introduced Christianity and does away with the traditional way of life of the Tahitians.


The era of European colonization began in 1521, when the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan saw Puka Puka Atoll Tuamotu-Gambier archipelago. In 1595, Spanish explorer Mendana visited Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas Islands, and the Dutchman Jacob Roggeven came across Bora Bora in 1722. The islands of French Polynesia opened Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, British and French sailors.

Samuel Wallis. In 1767, Captain Samuel Wallis in the ship of the British Navy Dolphin travel around the world in order to open Terra Incognita Australis - the mythical continent, which, according to the Europeans, had to be below the equator. He became the first European to visit Tahiti. June 17, 1767 Dolphin dropped anchor in the bay Matavai Tahiti. Initially, the appearance of strangers Tahitians met with enthusiasm, hundreds of canoes surrounded the ship. But the delight of the indigenous population quickly grew into aggression, and they attacked the Dolphin, trying to take over the ship. Wallis gave the order to fire on the crowd on the coast of grapeshot Tahitians, and then sent a group of soldiers on the beach to burn houses and canoes. After that, to establish friendly relations: the crew desperately needed fresh water, and did not know the metal Tahitians were pleased to receive in exchange for knives, axes and nails. Wallis stayed at Matavai Bay for a few weeks (until July 27, 1767). He called Tahiti "King George Island III» and said Britain claims to the territory. Shortly thereafter (not knowing about the arrival of Wallace), the French explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville, landed on the opposite side of Tahiti.


Bougainville. Louis-Antoine de Bougainville arrived in Tahiti with two ships La Boudeuse and L'Etoile in April 1768. At this time, Wallis still get home to his native England. Therefore, Bougainville was completely unaware that the island before it went the other European. His visit lasted only nine days. Not knowing that the British flag has waved over the island of Bougainville, said France's claim to Tahiti.

Bougainville published a book Voyage Autour Du Monde (Around the World), which described Tahiti in the most romantic colors in which men and women live happily ever after, do not know what a corrupt society, corruption and civilization, where the climate is delightful, dangerous insects and diseases absent, and the women islanders are among the most beautiful in the world. Rumors of beautiful women, kindness Tahitians, their looseness about sex, instantly swept through Paris and helped to create the myth of the Polynesian paradise and the fictional image of the "good savage". From that date until the end of the 18th century, the island was named Taïti (Tahiti). Since the 19th century, the spelling Taïti replaced by Tahiti, that has become the norm for the French and English languages.


James Cook. Cook went on a journey aboard the British ship Endeavour in April 1769 with two ambitious goals. One of them he had received from the Royal Society (UK Academy of Sciences) - Observing the transit of Venus across the disk of the sun. Counting travel time Venus of three remote locations at the same time, believed that it is possible to determine the distance from the Earth to the Sun. Tahiti was chosen as one of the three measurement points (the other two were in Norway and Canada). The second goal was to cook the opening of the mythical continent in the south.

The transit of Venus across the disk of the sun observed in Tahiti June 3, 1769. Tools for identifying the time were not accurate enough to achieve the first objective Cook, but the expedition famous explorer spent the first ethnographic and scientific observation of Tahiti. With the assistance of botanist Joseph Banks and the artist Sydney Parkinson, Cook has collected valuable information on the fauna and flora, language and customs of the local community. Cook estimated a population of Tahiti was 200 000 inhabitants, including all the nearby islands of the archipelago. This estimate anthropologist Douglas Oliver later reduced to 35,000.


Domingo de Boenechea. Deeply-rooted in South America Spaniards initially paid no attention to the study of the Pacific, until they heard about the visit to Tahiti and other islands of the European explorers. Viceroy of Peru, Manuel de Amat Zhunet following the instructions from the Spanish crown, decided to take over Tahiti, and from there to begin expansion to other islands. In 1772, he sent the first expedition led by Domingo de Boenechea. For the third time in a row, the claim to the island declared a great European nation. Boenechea founded two Spanish missions and Tautira as the first long-term European settlement on the island.

In 1775, Domingo returned to Peru to Tahiti. Two Spanish mission, unsuccessfully tried to screw the "heathen" to Christianity, according to reports, were terrified islanders and are more than happy to return back to Peru. Boenechea died in Tahiti during his second visit, and thus ended the Spanish attempts to subjugate Tahiti. Boenechea buried in the Catholic church of his name in Tautira Tahiti-Iti. The most notable result of these expeditions was writing notes soldier Maximo Rodriguez, told a lot of ethnological information about the life of Tahitians of the 18th century.


The history of discovery of the islands in the Pacific Ocean has left a lot of interesting pages, but none of them has left such a deep track as a mutiny on board the Bounty. The incident made the Bounty event one of the most famous ships in history, and the name of Captain William Bligh synonymous cruelty and revenge. The mutiny occurred in several books, Hollywood movies and popular songs. According to popular belief, the sailors were attracted by the idyllic life on the Pacific island of Tahiti and were more motivated to abuse their captain.

October 26, 1788, the British Navy ship Bounty, led by Captain William Bligh landed in Tahiti to bring breadfruit from Tahiti to the Caribbean region. Sir Joseph Banks, the botanist of Cook's first expedition, came to the conclusion that the breadfruit will serve as a cheap source of supply of African slaves.

Expedition Bligh went to Tahiti at the end of 1787. After a difficult 10-month voyage, the ship arrived at a time when the breadfruit was too late to turn over. The crew stayed in Tahiti for six long months. In the end, breadfruit loaded aboard the Bounty and the ship went to the Caribbean region. April 28, 1789, three weeks after leaving Tahiti, the crew, led by first mate Christian Fletcheroom mutinied and seized the ship. Captain Bligh descended on the boat with 18 loyal crew members to the open ocean, and cast adrift.

Bligh sailed in an overloaded boat with a crew loyal to him without a map and compass. After 47 days he landed in Timor, and covered the distance of about 6000 km. In early 1790 the first Bligh returned to England and reported the mutiny to the Admiralty, 2 years and 11 weeks after the initial release into the sea. The investigation quickly stripped him of all charges of negligence, and the warship went to Tahiti to capture the rebels.
Leaving Bligh seafarers in the open ocean, with the Bounty mutineers returned to Tahiti and went on in search of a safe haven. After two unsuccessful attempts to settle on the island of Tuban, Christian briefly returned to Tahiti, where the rebels were divided into two groups. A large group of 16 rebels remained on the island, while the smaller sail with Christian on the Bounty

March 23, 1791 the British Navy ship Pandora reached Tahiti with Captain Edwards. He quickly grabbed the 14 surviving rebels (the other two have already been killed during the conflict), and reported their new Tahitian wives that their husbands returned to England and brought to justice. Pandora ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef site August 29, 1791, losing 31 crew members and four inmates. Survivors ten prisoners eventually repatriated to England. By decision of naval ships, three were hanged, four were acquitted three others were pardoned.

With regard to Christian Fletcher, he led the remaining eight British sailors and a small group of Tahitians on the uninhabited island of Pitcairn, burned the Bounty and successfully founded a new settlement. Descendants of the mutineers still live on Pitcairn Island, some of them wear the name Christian.

Bligh returned to Tahiti in 1792, this time the captain of the ship Providence. Bligh again uploaded breadfruit and took them to the Caribbean. Started growing this plant on the first plantations in Jamaica and the island of St. Vincent, and then the other tropical Caribbean.


Before the arrival of Europeans in Tahiti and other islands of French Polynesia was not centralized power and tribal associations are constantly at odds with each other. European arms soon changed the traditional system of government.

Tahitians quickly understood the importance of European weapons, and strongly urged the early explorers to take sides in local conflicts. Although various pioneers of the island refused to participate in inter-tribal conflict, the rebels of the bounty the first to offer their services as mercenaries and arms dealers. The rebels and their weapons helped create a political environment in which one group could actually control the entire island of Tahiti. Therefore Bounty mutineers left an indelible mark in the history of Tahiti.
Luck smiled Pomare, one of the most important leaders of Tahiti, but not the most important thing at the time. Thanks to the help of the rebels, in 1788 he proclaimed himself king of Tahiti Pomare I, and in 1790 inflicted a crushing defeat his enemies. Founding a dynasty, Pomare, his family was able to join the first Tahiti. Pamarot I and his descendants founded and expanded the influence of the Tahitians to all the lands that now constitute modern French Polynesia.


In the 1790s, during his expeditions in the southern hemisphere whalers began to anchor in Tahiti, replenish water and food supplies, having fun from the harsh shipboard life, simultaneously distributing alcohol and disease. The appearance of these whalers, subsequently joined by traders penal colonies of Australia, literally shocked the traditional Tahitian society. Crews brought to the island of alcohol, weapons and diseases, encourage prostitution, which was accompanied by the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. These first exchanges with the Europeans had a devastating impact on the population of Tahiti. Having no natural immunity to diseases brought, Polynesian population began to die out. The population of Tahiti in the late 1760s was estimated at about 40 000; in 1800 it amounted to less than 20 000, and to the 1820s had fallen to about 6 000 in the Marquesas Islands, the situation was even worse: one century the population with 80,000 was reduced to 20,000.


The first official name of the colony was Établissements de l'Océanie (Settlements in Oceania). In 1903, after the unification of Tahiti, Society Islands, Austral Islands, the Marquesas Islands and the Tuamotu Archipelago, the land was named French Establishments in Oceania (Établissements Français de l'Océanie).

In 1940, the administration of French Polynesia recognized the French Liberation Forces and many Polynesians fought in World War II against Germany.

September 16, 1940, the Cabinet of Ministers of Imperial Japan, headed by Fumimaro Konoe included French Polynesia among the many territories which were to become Japanese possessions in the post-war world. But during the war, the Japanese were not able to start the actual invasion of the French islands.

In 1946, Tahiti, French Polynesia and all received the status of an overseas territory (Territoire d'outre-mer), all Polynesians became French citizens.

In 1957, the island was transformed into all overseas possessions of France and became known as French Polynesia (Polynésie Française).

In 1977, French Polynesia received partial internal autonomy, and in 1984 expanded the rights of autonomy.

In 1998, French Polynesia was first elected their own legislature and president.
In 2003, French Polynesia had the status of an overseas community of France with extended powers of the legislative Assembly and the President.

Law of 27 February 2004, the status of the overseas community identified as an overseas country inside the Republic.

French Polynesia has a large degree of autonomy, symbolized by the President and the Legislative Assembly. With this authority, French Polynesia conclude international agreements with foreign countries in matters of trade and investment. France granted greater autonomy in local affairs and regional relations, but retained control of the police, defense and finance.

The political situation in the region remains precarious. Legislators who favor independence, autonomy and neutral form short-term coalition MPs, most of whom there are less than a year.

Although independence from France in the future is possible, this is unlikely to happen anytime soon. The standard of living is relatively high, but the French Polynesia is in a vulnerable economic situation, very few natural resources, and the economy is heavily dependent on imports.


The largest conflict with Paris broke out because of nuclear tests. Initially, France conducted its nuclear tests in Algeria, but in 1962 the country gained its independence. As a new nuclear test sites chosen atolls of French Polynesia - Mururoa and Fangataufa. Between 1966 and 1996, the French government conducted 193 nuclear weapons tests - 181 at Mururoa (1,200 km from Tahiti) and the other on Fangataufa. Under pressure from the international community, in 1975, France moved to underground testing. The last test was conducted January 27, 1996. January 29, 1996, France announced it would join the signing of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and no longer test nuclear weapons. Two years later, the country has ratified this agreement. To compensate for the residents of the damage from nuclear weapons tests from 1995 to 1996, France has proposed a 10-year $ 194-million annual compensation package.