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History

The entire populating process of Polynesia took place during more than 2000 years before and after year 0. Groups from South-East Asia probably began the populating of Polynesia.

Between the XVth and the XVIIth centuries, many European explorers set foot on Polynesia (Spanish, Dutch, English, French and Russian). In 1767, explorer Samuel Wallis and then explorer Bougainville in 1768 landed at Tahiti and were impressed by the beauty of the place. The Polynesian myth was born…

English and French missionaries began to teach Christianism to the Polynesians as French and English colonial empires struggle in the Pacific. The local dynasty of the Pomaré starts ruling Tahiti. In the middle of the XIXth century, the French won the colonial duel and instituted a protectorate bringing together the Windward Islands, the Leeward Islands, the Tuamotu and the Austral ones.

Despite its distance from the France, French Polynesia has known the two World Wars. Papeete was bombed in 1914 by the German navy. During the Second World War, Polynesia joined the “France Libre” and Bora Bora served as a base for the American army.

In 1946, French Polynesia becomes an oversea territory and gains an autonomous status in 1966.