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NASA picture of Niau Atoll
Niau is located in French Polynesia
Location Pacific Ocean
Coordinates 16°9′15″S 146°21′20.4″W / 16.15417°S 146.355667°W / -16.15417; -146.355667Coordinates: 16°9′15″S 146°21′20.4″W / 16.15417°S 146.355667°W / -16.15417; -146.355667
Archipelago Tuamotus
Area 33 km2 (13 sq mi)  (lagoon)
20 km2 (8 sq mi) (above water)
Length 8 km (5 mi)
Overseas collectivity French Polynesia
Administrative subdivision Tuamotus
Commune Fakarava
Largest settlement Tupana
Population 226[1] (2012)
NASA picture of Niau Atoll.

Niau is a small atoll in French Polynesia, in the commune of Fakarava (Tuamotu archipelago). This atoll has a broad fringing reef, a diameter of 8 km and an area of 20 km².

Niau's lagoon is swampy, hypersaline and entirely enclosed. The narrow strip of land surrounding the lagoon is covered by marsh vegetation. The lagoon area is 33 km² and it has an unusual green colour.

The only human settlement on Niau is Tupana, population 226 (as of 2012).


The first recorded European to visit Niau was a German explorer Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen in 1820 on ships the Vostok and Mirni. He named this island Greig.


Niau is administratively part of the commune of Fakarava, which consists of the island Fakarava, as well as the atolls of Aratika, Kauehi, Niau, Raraka, Taiaro and Toau.


Niau is one of the few locations where the original Tuamotu tropical moist forest ecosystem[2] (known locally as feo) has been preserved. This mixed broadleaf forest[3] ecosystem has disappeared on almost all other atolls. The forest has been preserved in the central parts of the island. It contains several endemic species of plants and animals.

The small Niau kingfisher Todiramphus gertrudae lives now exclusively in the island of Niau. This critically endangered bird disappeared from the Gambier Islands long ago.

Niau airport[edit]

Niau Airport is at the northern tip of the atoll (ICAO: NTKN).


  1. ^ "Population". Institut de la statistique de la Polynésie française. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  2. ^ "Tuamotu tropical moist forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. 
  3. ^ "Tuamotu tropical moist forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. 

External links[edit]