French Oceanic Settlements


Map of French Oceanic SettlementsFlag of French Oceanic Settlements















The 118 islands of French Polynesia were born from volcanoes some 20 million years ago. The islands in the Society, Marquesas, Austral and Gambier Island groups remained high islands, while the islands of the Tuamotu Islands group became atolls. Atolls are islands that have long since sunk below the ocean surface, leaving only the barrier reef. The total land area of the islands is equivalent to the total area of Europe.


The remoteness of the islands of Polynesia kept the people insulated from the rest of the world until European world travel began in the 1700's. Polynesian origins are believed to be in the area of Southeast Asia, more precisely the eastern are of Indonesia or the Philippines some 4000 years ago. The early Polynesians were master navigators. Their migrations took them through Melanesia to the eastern edge of Polynesia. The Polynesians settled in Polynesia between 1000 BC and 1000 AD. Polynesia is roughly described as the "triangle" with the northern point in the islands of Hawai'i, the southeast at Easter Island, and to the southwest at New Zealand.


The Polynesian migration lasted about 2000 years. Not all Polynesian cultures are exactly alike. Adaptation to different island groups as well as the great distances between islands of Polynesia resulted in similarities and differences in the culture, languages, religion, daily practices and forms of artistic expression.


Spanish explorers discovered the Marquesas Islands in 1595. However, true contact between the Polynesians and European explorers did not begin until the discovery of Tahiti by the Englishman Wallis in 1767. These contacts resulted in an upheaval of the economic and social structure of the Polynesians. The Christianization by Protestant and Catholic missionaries resulted in the abandonment of traditional religious practices and places of worship, "marae".


After decades of rivalries between Britain and France over the ownership of the islands of Tahiti, France declared the islands as a protectorate in 1843. In 1944, the islands were declared to be an overseas territory of France.


On 25 October 1946, a decree by France allowed the Polynesians to manage their own public matters, while still maintaining institutional control. On 22 July 1957, the territorial assembly was instituted in "French Polynesia" with control over such affairs as commerce, transportation, and education. 



Capital:                      Papeete

Government:              French colony

Area:                         4.167 kmē

Population:                 58.200 (1946)

Currency:                   CFA Franc (100 centimes) (since 1946)

UN country code:         -

Internet TLD:              -

Dialling code:             -


Member of:                no international organizations



For more stamps see:

French Polynesia






French Polynesia in Wikipedia.




Stamp catalogue


UPU 75th anniversary

date:                   4 July 1949

designer:             Raoul Serres

printer:               Imprimerie des Timbres-Poste, Paris, France

perforated:          13

sheet:                 -

remark:              air mail


1     10 f             Arab man, Oceanic woman, Asian woman, African man, South American man, globe, airplane, text "75e



                          (cat. Michel 235/SG 210/Yvert PA 29)


French Oceanic Settlements - stamp as described above









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last revised: 20 September 2010