Location of the commune (in red) within the Marquesas Islands
|Overseas collectivity||French Polynesia|
|• Mayor||Nestor Ohu|
|Area||83 km2 (32 sq mi)|
|Population (August 2007 census)1||571|
|• Density||6.9/km2 (18/sq mi)|
|INSEE/Postal code||98756 / 98744|
|Elevation||0–857 m (0–2,812 ft)|
|1 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.|
Ua Huka is one of the Marquesas Islands, in French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. It is situated in the northern group of the archipelago, approximately 25 mi (40 km). (42 km) to the east of Nuku Hiva, at .
Ua Huka is sometimes also found spelled Roohka or Ua Huna. The first Western navigator to sight the island was U.S. Navy Capt. Joseph Ingraham in 1791. He named the island "Washington Island" in honor of U.S. President George Washington, a name which was eventually extended to include all of the northern group of the Marquesas Islands. Other names for the island include Riou and Solide. See also Names of the Marquesas Islands. The spider genus Uahuka is named after this island.
Although Ua Huka is located in the northern Marquesas, historically, culturally and linguistically the island's tribes were far more closely aligned with the southern Marquesas Islands, especially with the tribes from Pepane, in the eastern half of Hiva Oa.
The island is shaped approximately like a crescent, with its concave edge facing the south. The land area is approximately 83 km² (32 sq. mi.). The center of the island is a high plateau, deeply indented in places by narrow river valleys. The highest peak, Hitikau reaches an elevation of 884 metres (2,900 ft). Much of the island's native plant cover, which outside the valleys consists primarily of dryland scrub, has been devastated by herds of feral goats and horses, which are estimated to number upwards of 3,000.
Ua Huka is a shield volcano that was emplaced between 2.2 and 2.4 million years ago. It is thought to have formed by a center of upwelling magma called the Marquesas hotspot. The island is served by Ua Huka Airport.
The administrative centre of the commune is the settlement of Vaipaee, on the southern side of the island.
Although the primary economic activity remains the production of copra, Ua Huka has rich resources for tourism, including restorations of various archæological sites, museums displaying the former glory of Marquesan civilization, and the preservation of the island's unique flora. Among the archæological remains at sites such as Tehavea and Meiaute are ancient petroglyphs and thousands of bird bones. The Pupuakeiha Arboretum consists of 42 acres (17 ha) planted with over 300 species of trees. It is hoped that one day this wealth of species will be able to be used to reforest the island. On the western end of the island are found a number of sea-caves.
- Reaka-Kudla, Marjorie L.; Wilson, Don E.; Wilson, Edward O. (30 September 1996). Biodiversity II: Understanding and Protecting Our Biological Resources. Joseph Henry Press. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-309-52075-1.
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