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Exploring the history and experiences of mixed heritage persons and inter-racial relationships across the world

Tahiti, French Polynesia

French Polynesia – TahitiNot quite in the middle of the huge but relatively calm Pacific Ocean lays a group of islands known as French Polynesia. The 130 or so islands stretch over 2.5 million square kilometres of ocean. The islands which were officially united in 1889 are now an overseas collectivity of France and so its citizens enjoy French and EU citizenship. The capital of the islands is Papeete which is situated on the largest island, Tahiti.

Tahiti is believed to have originally been settled between 300 and 600 AD by Polynesians from Fiji, Samoa or Tonga but European settlement started first with the missionaries with Spanish priests spending a year in 1774 and the London Missionary Society bringing Protestantism around 1797. This eventually led to a religious conflict that resulted in Tahiti becoming a French protectorate to allow Catholic missionaries to carry out their work. Prior to the missionaries there had been numerous ship landings in these parts including ones by James Cook and by the father of evolution, Charles Darwin.

At the time of first contact, it was estimated that Tahiti itself sustained some 40,000 people with another 20,000 or so on the surrounding islands. Mirroring the pattern found elsewhere, the European ships brought with them diseases such as small pox, scarlet fever, typhoid fever and tuberculosis to which the local Polynesians had no immunity. This led to a reduction in the population to the point that the 1880 census counted fewer than 6,000 native Tahitians.

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