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NASA picture of Hikueru Atoll
Hikueru is located in French Polynesia
Location Pacific Ocean
Coordinates 17°32′41″S 132°36′47″W / 17.54472°S 132.61306°W / -17.54472; -132.61306
Archipelago Tuamotu archipelago
Area 107 km2 (41 sq mi)
25 km² (above water)
Length 15 km (9.3 mi)
Width 9.5 km (5.9 mi)
Commune Hikueru
Largest city Tupapati
Population 268 (as of 2007)
NASA picture of Hikueru.
NASA picture of Hikueru.
Location of Hikueru in the Tuamotu Archipelago
Location of Hikueru in the Tuamotu Archipelago
Coordinates: 17°32′41″S 142°36′47″W / 17.5448°S 142.613°W / -17.5448; -142.613Coordinates: 17°32′41″S 142°36′47″W / 17.5448°S 142.613°W / -17.5448; -142.613
Country France
Overseas collectivity French Polynesia
 • Land 49 km2 (19 sq mi)
Population (2007)
 • Population1 377
 • Population1 density 7.7/km2 (20/sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 98721
1 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Hikueru, Tiveru, or Te Kārena, is one of the Central Tuamotu atolls. The closest land to Hikueru is Tekokota Atoll, located 22 kilometres (14 mi) to the north.

Hikueru Atoll's shape is roughly oval and it is 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) in length and 9.5 kilometres (5.9 mi) in width. It covers a total surface of 107 square kilometres (41 sq mi). There are many motu on its reef with a combined land area of about 25 square kilometres (9.7 sq mi). Its lagoon is deep, with numerous coral heads. It has no pass to enter it.

Hikueru's population is 250. Its most important village is Tupapati, located in an island at the north-western end of the atoll. There is a territorial airport on Hikueru which was opened in 2000.

Hikueru was the setting for Armstrong Sperry's novel Call It Courage, which won the Newbery Medal in 1940.


Atoll Population (2007) Area (km²)
Hikueru 268 25
Marokau 99 14.7
Ravahere 0 7
Reitoru 10 1.4
Tekokota 0 0.9
Total 377 49


Hikueru Atoll was discovered by Bougainville in 1768. Spanish navigator Domingo de Boenechea sighted Hikueru in 1774 on his ship the Aguila. He named this atoll "San Juan".[1]

Like Marokau, Hikueru used to be a large natural pearl oyster reserve. The 1903 cyclone wrought considerable damage, however, and caused the death of 377 people, including 261 from the island of Hao. In his "South Sea Tales", Jack London gives a vivid description of this disastrous hurricane.

In the 1988 census, only 123 inhabitants were found to be still living on Hikueru. This was up to 268 by 2007. The population of this island makes a living by collecting copra. Up to the 1970s, it was one of the main deep-sea diving centres in the Tuamotu atolls.[2]


The atoll is served by the Hikueru Airport (IATA: HHZICAO: NTGH).


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