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A satellite image of Tahuata
A satellite image of Tahuata
Location of the commune (in red) within the Marquesas Islands
Location of the commune (in red) within the Marquesas Islands
Location of Tahuata
Coordinates: 9°56′00″S 139°05′00″W / 9.9333°S 139.0833°W / -9.9333; -139.0833Coordinates: 9°56′00″S 139°05′00″W / 9.9333°S 139.0833°W / -9.9333; -139.0833
Overseas collectivityFrench Polynesia
SubdivisionÎles Marquises
 • Mayor (2014-2020) Félix Barsinas
61 km2 (24 sq mi)
 • Density11/km2 (28/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−09:30
INSEE/Postal code
98746 /98743
Elevation0–1,050 m (0–3,445 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Tahuata is the smallest of the inhabited Marquesas Islands, in French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. It is located 4 km (2.5 mi.) to the south of the western end of Hiva Oa, across the Canal du Bordelais, called Ha‘ava in Marquesan.


Administratively, Tahuata forms the commune (municipality) of Tahuata, part of the administrative subdivision of the Marquesas Islands.[1] This commune consists solely of the island of Tahuata itself.[2]

The administrative centre of the commune is the settlement of Vaitahu,[2] on the western side of the island.


The land area of Tahuata is 61.0 km2 (23.6 sq mi).[3] The highest point on the island is Mount Amatea (French: Mont Amatea), rising to an elevation of 1,050 m (3,445 ft.).


Historical population


Archæological evidence indicates that Tahuata was inhabited by Polynesians as early as 200 CE.

In later pre-European times, the tribes of Tahuata were allied with the tribes from the Nuku province of Hiva Oa, and the island was considered a dependency of that province.

The first recorded sighting by Europeans was by the Spanish expedition of Álvaro de Mandaña on 22 July 1595. They charted the island as Santa Cristina. They landed at Vaitahu that they named Madre de Dios (God's Mother in Spanish). According to the Spanish accounts Tahuata had fowls, fish, sugar cane, plantains, nuts and fruits. The existent town was built on two sides of a rectangular space, the houses being of timber and intertwined canes. A building which the Spaniards supposed to be a religious one stood outside the town, in a space enclosed by palisades, and containing some ill-carved images before which were offerings and provisions. The people had large and well constructed sailing canoes. Their tools were made of shells and fish bones. They used slings, stones, and lances as weapons.[5][6]

Tahuata was visited by Captain James Cook in 1774[7] who noted in his log book that the name of the island called Santa Christina by Mendaña was known as Ohitahoo.[8] Admiral Dupetit-Thouars signed in 1842 the treaty annexing the Marquesas Islands to France.


Because there is insufficient level ground for even a small runway, the island is served by the airport on Hiva Oa. This serves to give the island a feeling of much greater isolation, despite its proximity to Hiva Oa.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Décret n° 2005-1611 du 20 décembre 2005 pris pour l'application du statut d'autonomie de la Polynésie française, Légifrance
  2. ^ a b Décret n°72-407 du 17 mai 1972 portant création de communes dans le territoire de la Polynésie française, Légifrance
  3. ^ "R1- Population sans doubles comptes, des subdivisions, communes et communes associées de Polynésie française, de 1971 à 1996". Institut de la statistique de la Polynésie française. Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  4. ^ Répartition de la population en Polynésie française en 2017, Institut de la statistique de la Polynésie française
  5. ^ Sharp, Andrew The discovery of the Pacific Islands Oxford, 1960, pp.51,52.
  6. ^ Brand, Donald D. The Pacific Basin: A History of its Geographical Explorations The American Geographical Society, New York, 1967, p.133.
  7. ^ Salmond, Anne (2010). Aphrodite's Island. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 297-299. ISBN 9780520261143.
  8. ^ "Observations on HMS Resolution (RGO 14/59)". Cambridge University Digital Library. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University. 8 April 1774. p. 306. Retrieved 2 May 2018. Observations at the Island of Ohitahoo (Mendana's Santa Christina)

External links[edit]