A satellite image of Tahuata
Location of the commune (in red) within the Marquesas Islands
|Overseas collectivity||French Polynesia|
|• Mayor||Teaiki Félix Barsinas|
|Area||69 km2 (27 sq mi)|
|Population (August 22, 2012 census)1||703|
|• Density||10/km2 (26/sq mi)|
|INSEE/Postal code||98746 / 98743|
|Elevation||0–1,050 m (0–3,445 ft)|
|1 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.|
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.
The administrative centre of the commune is the settlement of Vaitahu, on the western side of the island.
Tahuata is approx. 69 km² (26.6 sq. mi.) The highest point on the island is Mount Amatea (French: Mont Amatea), rising to an elevation of 1,050 m (3,445 ft.).
The 2012 census population was 703.
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.
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.
- Sharp, Andrew The discovery of the Pacific Islands Oxford, 1960, pp.51,52.
- Brand, Donald D. The Pacific Basin: A History of its Geographical Explorations The American Geographical Society, New York, 1967, p.133.
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