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NASA satellite image of Vairaatea
Vairaatea is located in French Polynesia
Coordinates 19°21′S 139°13′W / 19.350°S 139.217°W / -19.350; -139.217
Archipelago Tuamotu
Area 3 km2 (1.2 sq mi)
Length 8 km (5 mi)
Width 4 km (2.5 mi)
Population 36 (as of 2002)
Location of Vairaatea within the Tuamotu archipelago

Vairaatea is a small atoll of the Tuamotu group in French Polynesia. Geographically Vairaatea Atoll is part of the East-central subgroup of the Tuamotus, which includes Ahunui, Amanu, Fangatau, Hao and Nukutavake. Nukutavake, the closest land, lies 38 km to the east.

Vairaatea Atoll measures 8 km in length and its width is about 4 km. Its reef has a roughly triangular shape. There are two long islands on it. The reef completely encloses a 13 km² lagoon. Landing on this atoll is difficult on account of the surf and the lack of a safe anchorage.

In 1989 Vairaatea was inhabited by eight families living in a village at the northern end of Puka Runga, the only inhabited island. According to the 2002 census there were 36 people living in Vairaatea, a drop from 70 in 1996.


The first recorded European who arrived to Vairaatea was the Spanish explorer Pedro Fernández de Quirós on the 9 February of 1606. He named this atoll San Miguel Arcángel. However his captains Prado y Tovar and Vaéz de Torres refer to it as Santa Polonia as it was sighted on the day of this Christian martyr.[1]

Englishman Samuel Wallis visited Vairaatea in 1767. He named it "Lord Egmont". In some maps it also appears as "Industriel".


Administratively Vairaatea is part of the commune of Nukutavake.


  1. ^ Maude, H.E. Spanish discoveries in the Central Pacific. A study in identification Journal of the Polynesian Society, Wellington, LXVIII, 1959, p.284-326.