Marquesas Islands

The Marquesas Islands (/mɑːrˈkeɪsəs/; French: Îles Marquises or Archipel des Marquises or Marquises; Marquesan: Te Henua (K)enana (North Marquesan) and Te Fenua ʻEnata (South Marquesan), both meaning "the land of men") are a group of volcanic islands in French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the southern Pacific Ocean. The Marquesas are located at 9.7812° S, 139.0817° W. The highest point is the peak of Mount Oave (French: Mont Oave) on Ua Pou island at 1,230 m (4,035 ft) above sea level.[3]

Research based on 2010 studies suggests the islands were colonized rapidly in two successive waves by indigenous colonists from West Polynesia, beginning c. 1025–1120 AD, leading to the development of a "remarkably uniform culture, human biology and language."[4]

The Marquesas Islands form one of the five administrative divisions (subdivisions administratives) of French Polynesia. The capital of the Marquesas Islands administrative subdivision is the settlement of Taiohae on the island of Nuku Hiva. The population of the Marquesas Islands was 9,346 inhabitants at the August 2017 census.[2]

Marquesas Islands
Native name:
Îles Marquises (French) / Te Fenua ʻEnata (South Marquesan) / Te Henua (K)enana (North Marquesan)
Flag of Marquesas Islands
Karta FP Marquesa isl
LocationPacific Ocean
Coordinates9°27′S 139°23′W / 9.450°S 139.383°WCoordinates: 9°27′S 139°23′W / 9.450°S 139.383°W
Total islands15
Major islandsNuku Hiva, Ua Pu, Ua Huka, Hiva ʻOa, Fatu Hiva
Area1,049.3 km2 (405.1 sq mi)[1]
Highest elevation1,230 m (4,040 ft)
Highest pointMount Oave (Ua Pu)
CollectivityFrench Polynesia French Polynesia
Largest settlementTaiohae (pop. 2,183 (2017[2]))
Population9,346 (2017[2])
Pop. density8.9 /km2 (23.1 /sq mi)
LanguagesFrench, Marquesan
Additional information
Time zone
  • UTC-9:30


Marquesas is located in Pacific Ocean
Location of the Marquesas Islands in the Pacific Ocean

The Marquesas Islands group is one of the most remote in the world, lying about 852 mi (1,370 km) northeast of Tahiti and about 3,000 mi (4,800 km) away from the west coast of Mexico, the nearest continental land mass. They fall naturally into two geographical divisions: the northern group, consisting of Eiao, Hatutu (Hatutaa), Motu One, and the islands centered on the large island of Nuku Hiva: Motu Iti (Hatu Iti), Ua Pou, Motu Oa and Ua Huka, and the southern group of Fatu Uku, Tahuata, Moho Tani (Motane), Terihi, Fatu Hiva and Motu Nao (Thomasset Rock), clustered around the main island of Hiva ʻOa. With a combined land area of 1,049 square kilometres (405 sq mi), the Marquesas are among the largest island groups of French Polynesia the Spanish galleons fleets arrived at en route to Manila, Nuku Hiva being the second largest island in the entire territory, after Tahiti. With the exception of Motu One, all the islands of the Marquesas are of volcanic origin.

In contrast to the tendency to associate Polynesia with lush tropical vegetation, the Marquesas are remarkably dry islands. Though the islands lie within the tropics, they are the first major break in the prevailing easterly winds that spawn from the extraordinarily dry (from an atmospheric perspective) Humboldt Current. Because of this, the islands are subject to frequent drought conditions, and only those that reach highest into the clouds (generally, above about 750 m / 2,500  ft above sea level) have reliable precipitation. This has led to historical fluctuations in water supply, which have played a crucial role in the sustainability of human populations in certain sections of the various islands throughout the archipelago. This is especially evident in the low historical population of Ua Huka (maximum elevation 857 m m / 2,812 ft.) and the intermittent inhabitability of Eiao (maximum elevation 576 m m / 1,890 ft.). The Marquesas Islands are thought to have formed by a center of upwelling magma called the Marquesas hotspot.[5]

Islands of the Marquesas

Northern Marquesas

Marquises 9631a
Hakaui waterfall, on Nuku Hiva island.

Southern Marquesas


There are also a number of seamounts or shoals, located primarily in the area of the northern Marquesas. Among these are:

  • Clark Bank
  • Hinakura Bank
  • Lawson Bank
  • Bank Jean Goguel


Hatiheu Bay, Nuku Hiva (French Polynesia)
Basaltic rock formation in Hatiheu, Nuku Hiva island.

The bulk of the Marquesas Islands are of volcanic origin, created by the Marquesas hotspot that underlies the Pacific Plate. The Marquesas Islands lie above a submarine volcanic plateau of the same name. The plateau, like the islands, is generally believed to be less than 5 million years old, though one hypothesis has the plateau (not the islands) as significantly older and having a mirror image, the Inca Plateau, subducting under northern Peru.[6]

Except for Motu One, all the Marquesas are high islands. Motu One is a low island, comprising two small sand banks awash on a coral reef. Unlike the majority of French Polynesian islands, the Marquesas are not surrounded by protective fringing reefs.[7] Except for Motu One, and in bays and other protected areas, the only other coral in the Marquesas is found in a rather strange place: on the top of the island of Fatu Huku. The South Equatorial Current lashes the islands mercilessly, which has led to sea-caves dotting the islands' shores. Except for where the valleys empty into the small bays, the islands are remarkable for their mountain ridges, which end abruptly as cliffs where they meet the sea. The islands are estimated to range in age from the youngest, Fatu Hiva (1.3 million years) to the oldest, Eiao (6 million years).


Temperatures in the Marquesas are stable year around, but precipitation is highly variable. Precipitation is much greater on the north and east (windward) parts of the islands than on the western (leeward) parts. Average annual precipitation can vary from more than 100 inches (2,500 mm) on windward shores and mountains to a low as 20 inches (510 mm) in the "desert" region of Nuku Hiva. Droughts, sometimes lasting several years, are frequent and seem to be associated with the El Niño phenomena.[8] The statistics from the weather station at Atuona on Hiva ʻOa is representative of the average sea-level climate of the Marquesas. Illustrating the variability of precipitation, the highest annual rainfall recorded in Atuona is 148.2 inches (3,760 mm); the lowest is 22 inches (560 mm).[9]

A view of Hiva Oa, towards the south-west, with Moho Tani island visible in the distance.
A view of Hiva Oa, towards the south-west, with Moho Tani island visible in the distance.


Kaimoko Family. Headdress (Peue 'Ei), 19th century.
Kaimoko family. Headdress (Peueʻei), 19th century. Porpoise teeth, beads, coir. It is likely that this woman's headdress was made on the island of Ua Pou, where a great number of porpoises were available. In Marquesian Polynesian language, ei means treasure. From the collection of the Brooklyn Museum

The first recorded settlers of the Marquesas were Polynesians who arrived from West Polynesia. Initially, the carbon-dating evidence suggested their arrival before AD 100  but the date of initial colonization has since been brought forward in many independent dating studies.

For example, a 2010 study using revised, high-precision radiocarbon dating based on more reliable samples, suggests that the period of eastern Polynesian colonization took place much later, in a shorter time frame of two waves: the "earliest in the Society Islands A.D. ∼1025–1120, four centuries later than previously assumed; then after 70–265 years, dispersal continued in one major pulse to all remaining islands A.D. ∼1190–1290."[4] This rapid colonization is believed to account for the "remarkable uniformity of East Polynesia culture, biology and language."[4]

In 2014, the date of first settlement for the Marquesas was pushed back slightly to around AD 900–1000.[11][12]

Historical culture

The rich environment of the islands supported a large population that lived by fishing, collecting shellfish, hunting birds and gardening. They relied heavily on breadfruit but raised at least 32 other introduced crops. Hard evidence of significant pre-European interarchipelago trade has been found in basalt from the Marquesan quarry island of Eiao that is known to have been distributed aboard sailing canoes over immense distances of up to 2500 km and more to provide adze heads on Mo'orea (Society Islands), Mangareva (Gambier Islands), Tubuai (Austral Islands), Rarotonga (Cook Islands), and Tabuaeran (Northern Line Islands).[13]

European contact

Chef de guerre marquisien-Musée d'histoire naturelle et d'ethnographie de Colmar
Traditional Marquesan warlord's headgear, ceremonial clothes, insignia, and weapon.

The first Europeans to reach the Marquesas may have been the crew of San Lesmes, a Spanish vessel which disappeared in a storm in June 1526; it was part of an expedition headed by García Jofre de Loaísa.[14] The Spanish explorer Álvaro de Mendaña reached them nearly seventy years later on 21 July 1595. He named them after his patron, García Hurtado de Mendoza, 5th Marquis of Cañete (Spanish: Marqués de Cañete), who served as Viceroy of Peru from 1590 to 1596. Mendaña visited first Fatu Hiva and then Tahuata before continuing on to the Solomon Islands. His expedition charted the four southernmost Marquesas as Magdalena (Fatu Hiva), Dominica (Hiva ʻOa), San Pedro (Moho Tani), and Santa Cristina (Tahuata).[15]

In the late 16th century European explorers estimated the population at more than 100,000. Europeans and Americans were impressed with how easy life appeared to be in the islands, which had a rich habitat and environment. In 1791 the American maritime fur trader Joseph Ingraham first visited the northern Marquesas while commanding the brig Hope. He named them the Washington Islands.[16] In 1813 Commodore David Porter claimed Nuku Hiva for the United States, but the United States Congress never ratified that claim.

The islands were a popular port of call for visiting whaling ships in the Age of Sail. The first on record was the Hope in April 1791.[17] The last known such visitor was the American whaler Alaska in February 1907.[18]

In 1842 France conducted a successful military operation on behalf of the native chief Iotete, who claimed he was king of the whole island of Tahuata. The government laid claim to the whole group and established a settlement on Nuku Hiva. That settlement was abandoned in 1857, but France re-established control over the group in 1870. It later incorporated the Marquesas into French Polynesia.

Pareu haka
Marquesans dressed in pareu demonstrating traditional dance, 1909

Of all major island groups in the Pacific, the Marquesas suffered the greatest population decline in Polynesia from endemic diseases carried by Western explorers. The indigenous people suffered high rates of mortality, as they had no immunity to the new diseases. Such infectious diseases as smallpox, measles and others reduced the eighteenth-century population of over 78,000 inhabitants to about 20,000 by the middle of the nineteenth century. By the turn of the 20th century, the islands' population had reduced to just over 4,000.[19] During the course of the twentieth century, after reaching a nadir of 2,255 in 1926, the population finally started to increase, reaching 8,548 at the November 2002 census,[20] not including the Marquesan community residing on Tahiti. It has continued to increase, reaching 9,346 inhabitants at the August 2017 census.[2]

Government and politics

The Marquesas Islands form one of the five administrative divisions (subdivisions administratives) of French Polynesia. French and Tahitian are the official languages of government. The capital of the Marquesas Islands administrative subdivision is the settlement of Taiohae on the island of Nuku Hiva.

The sparsely populated Marquesas Islands are located 1,371 km (852 mi) from Tahiti. With 183,645 inhabitants (2012 census), Tahiti is the most populous island of French Polynesia, containing 68.5% of the total population of the grouping.[21]

Residents of the Marquesas have chafed at Tahiti's overwhelming dominance, complaining of neglect by politicians based in Tahiti, and leaders have suggested developing a direct relationship with the metropole, the government in Paris, instead of depending on Papeete.[22] As sentiment was rising in Tahiti in the 21st century for independence from France, several prominent Marquesan political leaders in 2007 floated the idea of the Marquesas Islands separating from French Polynesia but remaining within the French Republic.[22] This has generated controversies in Tahiti, where pro-independence Tahitian leaders have accused the French central government of encouraging the separation of the Marquesas Islands from French Polynesia.[22]


The Marquesas Islands do not have a provincial or regional assembly. Administratively, they form a deconcentrated subdivision of both the French central State and the government of French Polynesia. As a deconcentrated subdivision of the French central State, the Marquesas Islands form the administrative subdivision of the Marquesas (French: subdivision administrative des Marquises), one of French Polynesia's five administrative subdivisions. The head of the administrative subdivision of the Marquesas is the administrateur d'État ("State administrator"), generally simply known as administrateur, also sometimes called chef de la subdivision administrative ("head of the administrative subdivision"). The administrateur is a civil servant under the authority of the High Commissioner of the French Republic in French Polynesia in Papeete. The administrateur and his staff sit in Taiohae, on the island of Nuku Hiva, which has become the administrative capital of the Marquesas Islands, having replaced Atuona on the island of Hiva ʻOa, which was previously the capital.

Acting as the representative of the French central State and delegate of Papeete's High Commissioner, the administrateur of the Marquesas is in charge of:

  • Offering legal advice to the communes (municipalities) of the Marquesas and verifying the legality of decisions made by the communes
  • Issuing official documents (ID cards, driving licences, etc.), applying immigration rules, organising elections
  • Managing security (coordination of gendarmerie forces, handling of major crises such as natural disasters, etc.)
  • Overseeing public services of the French central State in the Marquesas Islands (such as the correctional facility on Nuku Hiva)

As a deconcentrated subdivision of the government of French Polynesia, the Marquesas Islands form the circonscription des Marquises ("district of the Marquesas"), one of French Polynesia's four circonscriptions ("districts") created in 2000 by the Assembly of French Polynesia to serve as deconcentrated subdivisions of the government of French Polynesia in the islands away from Tahiti and Moorea. The head of the circonscription des Marquises is the tavana hau, known as administrateur territorial in French ("territorial administrator"), but the Tahitian title tavana hau is most often used. The tavana hau is the direct representative of the president of French Polynesia's government who appoints him. The tavana hau and his staff sit in Taiohae on Nuku Hiva, same as the State administrator.

The tavana hau is in charge of:

  • Coordinating the work of French Polynesian administrations in the Marquesas Islands (such as the French Polynesian administrations in charge of roads, fisheries, etc.)
  • Ensuring the enforcement of acts passed by the Assembly of French Polynesia and decisions taken by the government of French Polynesia
  • Evaluating the performance of French Polynesian civil servants and sending the evaluations to the responsible ministries in Papeete
  • Acting as a liaison between the local population and the government of French Polynesia in Papeete

The Marquesas Islands also form the electoral district of the Marquesas Islands, one of French Polynesia's six electoral districts for the Assembly of French Polynesia (see also Politics of French Polynesia).

Communes of the Marquesas Islands

The Marquesas Islands are subdivided in six communes (municipalities). In each of the six communes the local residents elect a municipal council and a mayor in charge of managing local affairs within the commune. Three communes (Nuku-Hiva, Ua-Pou, and Hiva-Oa) are further subdivided into associated communes due to their larger population. The communes and associated communes are the only elected councils in the Marquesas since there does not exist a provincial or regional assembly for the entire archipelago. Municipal elections are held every six years on the same day as municipal elections in the rest of France (see 2014 French municipal elections for the last municipal elections).

The areas and populations of the communes at the 2012 Census were as follows:


Historical population

1799 1853 1863 1872 1883 1892 1902 1911 1921 1926 1931 1936
50,000 to
11,900 8,650 6,045 5,576 4,445 3,963 3,116 2,300 2,255 2,283 2,400
1946 1956 1962 1971 1977 1983 1988 1996 2002 2007 2012 2017
2,976 4,165 4,838 5,593 5,419 6,548 7,358 8,064 8,548 8,632 9,264 9,346
Past estimates and official figures from past censuses.[2][20][23][24][25][26]


The places of birth of the 8,632 residents of the Marquesas Islands at the 2007 census were the following:[27]


Baie de Hane - Chargement copra (2)
Loading copra on a boat in the bay of Hane, Ua Huka island.

French and Tahitian are the only official languages of all of French Polynesia, but the Marquesan languages, in their various forms, remain the primary means of communication among residents within this archipelago.

Marquesan is a collection of East-Central Polynesian dialects, of the Marquesic group, spoken in the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia. They are usually classified into two groups, North Marquesan and South Marquesan, corresponding roughly along geographic lines.

The North Marquesan dialects are spoken on the islands of Ua Pu and Nuku Hiva, and South Marquesan dialects on the islands of Hiva ʻOa, Tahuata and Fatu Hiva. The dialects of Ua Huka are often incorrectly classified as North Marquesan; they are instead transitional. While the island is in the northern Marquesas group, the dialects show more morphological and phonological affinities with South Marquesan. The North Marquesan dialects are sometimes considered to be two separate languages: North Marquesan and Tai Pi Marquesan, the latter being spoken in the valleys of the eastern third of the island of Nuku Hiva, in the ancient province of Tai Pi.

The most striking feature of the Marquesan languages is their almost universal replacement of the /r/ or /l/ of other Polynesian languages by a /ʔ/ (glottal stop).

Like other Polynesian languages, the phonology of Marquesan languages is characterised by a paucity of consonants and a comparative abundance of vowels.

2007 language data in census

At the 2007 census, 94.1% of the population whose age was 15 and older reported that they could speak French. 90.2% reported that they could also read and write it. Only 4.4% of the population whose age was 15 and older had no knowledge of French.[28]

At the same census, 67.8% of the population whose age was 15 and older reported that the language they spoke the most at home was Marquesan. 30.1% reported that French was the language they spoke the most at home. 1.4% reported Tahitian, and 0.7% reported another language.[29]

7.2% of the population whose age was 15 and older reported that they had no knowledge of any Polynesian language at the 2007 census.[28]


Ua Pou - Tapageuse
P400-class patrol vessel La Tapageuse docked at Hakahau, Ua Pou island.


There are four airports in the Marquesas, one each on the islands of Nuku Hiva, Ua Pu, Ua Huka, and Hiva ʻOa. The terrain of Tahuata is too irregular to allow for the construction of a landing strip without significant investment, and while the upland plateau of central Fatu Hiva is large enough to permit the construction of an airstrip, the island's minuscule population makes such an exercise of dubious benefit.


The Marquesas are served by telephone as well as by radio and television, mainly from Tahiti. Recent additions include the "Vini" a mobile phone service that, in about 6 years, has expanded to cover most of the populated islands. There also is "Mana", an internet server with DSL broadband that is expanding with Wi-Fi stations too.


Container for tattoo tools, Pua Mau Valley, Marquesas Islands, Bishop Museum, B.05280
Container for tattoo tools, wood, Pua Mau Valley, Atuona, Hiva Oa island.

The Marquesas Islands were once a major center of eastern Polynesian civilization. Wooden and stone crafts and tattooing are common practices among the locals.


The ecosystem of the Marquesas has been devastated in some areas by the activities of feral livestock. As a first step in preserving what remains, the Marquesan Nature Reserves were created in 1992.

In popular culture

  • French painter Paul Gauguin and Belgian singer Jacques Brel spent the last years of their lives in the Marquesas, and are buried there. Brel composed a song, "Les Marquises", about the Marquesas Islands, his last home.[30]
  • The Marquesas inspired American novelist Herman Melville, whose experiences in the Marquesas formed the basis for his novel Typee. (Despite some sources, Omoo is set in the Society Islands, not in the Marquesas.)
  • Robert Louis Stevenson visited the Marquesas in 1888, and wrote about his experiences and impressions there, in a book called In the South Seas (published in 1896).[31]
  • Frederick O'Brien wrote his travel book, novel White Shadows in the South Seas (1919),[32] based on experiences in the Marquesas. This book was loosely adapted and dramatized as a 1928 MGM film of the same name.
  • In Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World (1932), the Marquesas Islands are used as a place of exile for persons who think independently and have been identified as dangerous by the World State.
  • 20th-century explorer Thor Heyerdahl wrote his book Fatu Hiva during a year-long stay on the island.
  • The island group is mentioned in passing in the Crosby, Stills & Nash song "Southern Cross": "off the wind on this heading lie the Marquesas".
  • In the Gilligan's Island episode "X Marks the Spot", the Professor gives coordinates for the castaways' imaginary island that would put it in the outer fringes of the Marquesas group.
  • The Marquesas Islands were featured in the United States when the reality TV show, Survivor: Marquesas, was filmed on Nuku Hiva. It was the fourth installment of the TV series Survivor.
  • Nathaniel Philbrick in his book In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex (2001), noted that the Marquesas were the closest land to where the whaleship Essex was sunk by a whale in the 19th century. But, the crew reportedly feared rumors of cannibalism on the islands and tried to reach South America; most died in the process.[33]
  • The Marquesas Islands are featured as a major setting in the book series The Virtual War by Gloria Skurzynski.[34] The books call the islands The Isles of Hiva, described as the only uncontaminated lands left after a nuclear apocalypse. Most of the second novel takes place on Nuku Hiva, and part of the last novel takes place on Hiva ʻOa.
  • In Jean-Luc Godard's Goodbye to Language (2014), a voice-over describes the dog Roxy as "dreaming of the Marquesas".
  • Nathalie Santamaria sings in "Il me donne rendez-vous" which was France's entry to the Eurovision Song Contest in 1995, that she receives airlinetickets to Marquesas Islands from a suitor as she has turned down similar offers to New York and Venice.[35]

See also



  1. ^ "R1- Population sans doubles comptes, des subdivisions, communes et communes associées de Polynésie française, de 1971 à 1996". ISPF. Archived from the original on 14 November 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Population". Institut de la statistique de la Polynésie française (in French). Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  3. ^ Communes des Îles Marquises Archived 9 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b c Janet M. Wilmshurst, Terry L. Hunt, Carl P. Lipo, and Atholl J. Anderson. "High-precision radiocarbon dating shows recent and rapid initial human colonization of East Polynesia" Archived 24 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine, PNAS, vol. 108 no. 5, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1015876108, accessed 26 October 2015
  5. ^ Desonie, D. L.; Duncan, R. A.; Natland, J. H. (10 October 1993). "Temporal and geochemical variability of volcanic products of the Marquesas Hotspot". Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. 98 (B10): 17649–17665. doi:10.1029/93JB01562. ISSN 2156-2202.
  6. ^ The "lost Inca Plateau": cause of flat subduction beneath Peru? Archived 3 July 2010 at Wikiwix, 1999
  7. ^ "Papeete measures 5 small waves during tsunami red alert". Tahitipresse. 29 September 2009. Archived from the original on 3 October 2009. Retrieved 30 September 2009.
  8. ^ Addison, David J. "Traditional Agriculture of the Marquesas Islands (French Polynesia)" Rapa Nui Journal 21.2 (2007): 111-27.
  9. ^ Florence, Jacques and Lorence, David H. "Introduction to the Flora and Vegetation of the Marquesas Islands" Allertonia, Vol. 7, No. 4, p. 223
  10. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Atuona, French Polynesia". Weatherbase. 2011. Archived from the original on 7 December 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  11. ^ Allen, Melinda S. (2014). "Marquesan colonisation chronologies and post-colonisation Interaction: Implications for Hawaiian origins and the 'Marquesan Homeland' hypothesis". J. Pac. Archaeol. 5 (2): 1–17.
  12. ^ Conte, Eric (2014). "Reinvestigating a key site for Polynesian prehistory: new results from the Hane dune site, Ua Huka (Marquesas)". Archaeology in Oceania. 49: 121–136. doi:10.1002/arco.5037.
  13. ^ Crowe, Andrew (2018). Pathway of the Birds: The Voyaging Achievements of Māori and their Polynesian Ancestors. Auckland, New Zealand: Bateman. ISBN 9781869539610.
  14. ^ Berguno, Jorge (1990). Hardy, John; Frost, Alan (eds.). European Voyaging towards Australia. Australian Academy of the Humanities. p. 25. ISBN 978-0909897192.
  15. ^ Sharp, Andrew, The Discovery of the Pacific Islands, Oxford 1960 p. 51
  16. ^ "Papers of Joseph Ingraham, 1790-1792: Journal of the Voyage of the Brigantine Hope from Boston to the North-West Coast of America". World Digital Library. 1790–1800. Archived from the original on 8 June 2013. Retrieved 8 June 2013.
  17. ^ Langdon, Robert (1984), Where the whalers went: An index to the Pacific ports and islands visited by American whalers (and some other ships) in the 19th century, Canberra, Pacific Manuscripts Bureau, p.168 & 171. ISBN 086784471X
  18. ^ Langdon, p.175
  19. ^ Gille, Bernard; Toullelan, Pierre-Yves (1999). Au Vent des Iles (ed.). De la conquête à l'exode : histoire des Océaniens et de leurs migrations dans le Pacifique. p. 118. ISBN 978-2909790596.
  20. ^ a b "Population statistique des communes et communes associées aux recensements de 1971 à 2002". ISPF. Archived from the original on 13 November 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
  21. ^ Chart of the Island Otaheite, by Lieut. J. Cook 1769 Archived 8 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine. National Maritime Museum.
  22. ^ a b c Polémique à Tahiti: les Marquises veulent se rapprocher de Paris Archived 2 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Rue 89, 23 December 2007
  23. ^ INSEE. "Population des subdivisions administratives de Polynésie française au RP 2007" (in French). Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
  24. ^ Journal de la Société des océanistes. "A propos des résultats statistiques du Recensement de 1962 en Polynésie Française" (PDF) (in French). Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 March 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  25. ^ INSEE. "Population des subdivisions administratives de Polynésie française" (in French). Archived from the original on 7 January 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
  26. ^ "Intégralité des évaluations et des recensements de population aux Îles Marquises" (in French). Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  27. ^ "Recensements de la population > 2007 > Données détaillées > Migrations". ISPF. Archived from the original on 13 November 2013. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
  28. ^ a b "LAN3b - Population de 15 ans et plus par connaissance des langues selon la subdivision de résidence et l'âge décennal". ISPF. Archived from the original on 13 November 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
  29. ^ "Recensements de la population > 2007 > Données détaillées > Langues". ISPF. Archived from the original on 13 November 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
  30. ^ "Jacques Brel's Haunting Song: "Les Marquises"". Rhythm Planet. Archived from the original on 18 November 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  31. ^ Archived 24 December 2001 at
  32. ^ O'Brien, Frederick (20 December 2004). "White Shadows in the South Seas". Retrieved 28 April 2018 – via Project Gutenberg.
  33. ^ Nathaniel Philbrick, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, New York: Viking Press, 2001
  34. ^ The Virtual War Archived 1 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ "Il me donne rendez-vous - lyrics - Diggiloo Thrush". Archived from the original on 15 March 2017. Retrieved 28 April 2018.

Further reading

  • Kjellgren, Eric & Ivory, Carol S. (2005). Adorning the world: art of the Marquesas Islands. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 9781588391469.
  • Urmenyhazi, Attila. 2013 book publication: "Samoan & Marquesan Life in Oceania: a probing travelogue". ISBN 9780646909127 - National Library of Australia, Bib ID: 6377055

External links


Asymphorodes is a gelechioid moth genus in subfamily Agonoxeninae of the palm moth family (Agonoxenidae), whose taxonomic status is disputed. Alternatively, the palm moths might be a subfamily of the grass-miner moth family (Elachistidae), with the Agonoxeninae becoming a tribe Agonoxenini.Formerly, this genus was included in the cosmet moths (Cosmopterigidae). They are found in southern Polynesia as well as the Hawaiian and the Solomon Islands, and are notable for their adaptive radiation on the Marquesas Islands.

Culture of the Marquesas Islands

The Marquesas Islands were colonized by seafaring Polynesians as early as 300 AD, thought to originate from Tonga. The dense population was concentrated in the narrow valleys, and consisted of warring tribes, who sometimes cannibalized their enemies.Much of Polynesia, including the original settlers of Hawaii, Tahiti, Rapa Iti and Easter Island, was settled by Marquesans, believed to have departed from the Marquesas as a result more frequently of overpopulation and drought-related food shortages, than because of the nearly constant warfare that eventually became a prominent feature of the islands' culture. Almost the entire remainder of Polynesia, with the exception of a few areas of western Polynesia as well as the majority of the Polynesian outliers, was colonized by Marquesan descendants centered in Tahiti.


Fatu-Hiva (the "H" is not pronounced, see name section below) is the southernmost island of the Marquesas Islands, in French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. With Motu Nao as its closest neighbor, it is also the most isolated of the inhabited islands.

Fatu Hiva is also the title of a book by explorer and archaeologist Thor Heyerdahl, in which he describes his stay on the island in the 1930s.

Hane, Marquesas Islands

Hane is the largest settlement on the island of Ua Huka, in the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia. Hane, a notable archaeological site, has a smaller population than the capital of Vaipae'e.


Hatutu (also called Hatuta‘a) is a small island approximately 3 km (2 mi.) northeast of Eiao in the northern Marquesas Islands.

Hatutu is administratively part of the commune (municipality) of Nuku-Hiva, itself in the administrative subdivision of the Marquesas Islands.

It consists of a high central ridge, which runs the full 6.5 km (4 mi.) length of the island. The ridge rises to heights up to 428 m (1,404 ft.) above sea level.

In 1992, Hatutu was declared a nature reserve: the Hatutu Nature Reserve. The island is an important nesting ground for red-footed booby, black noddy, white tern, great frigatebird, and masked booby, and home to the endemic northern Marquesan reed warbler and the Marquesan ground dove. It is also the largest breeding site of Phoenix Petrel in French Polynesia.

The island is plagued by Polynesian rat (Rattus exulens) a species introduced by humans sometime in the last several hundred years. The rats likely prey upon native animals and plants potentially changing the ecosystem dynamic on the island.

Hiva Oa

With its 320 square kilometres (124 square miles), Hiva Oa is the second largest island in the Marquesas Islands, in French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. Located at 9 45' south latitude and 139 W longitude, it is the largest island of the southern Marquesas group. Around 2,200 people reside on the island. A volcano, Temetiu, is Hiva Oa's highest point with 1,200 metres (3,937 feet).

According to local religion, the gods created the Marquesas as their home. Therefore, all islands have names that are related with the building of a house - Hiva Oa means long ridgepole.

Marquesan Dog

The Marquesan Dog or Marquesas Islands Dog is an extinct breed of dog from the Marquesas Islands. Similar to other strains of Polynesian dogs, it was introduced to the Marquesas by the ancestors of the Polynesian people during their migrations. Serving as a tribal totems and religious symbols, they were sometimes consumed as meat although less frequently than in other parts of the Pacific because of their scarcity. These native dogs are thought to have become extinct before the arrival of Europeans, who did not record their presence on the islands. Petroglyphic representations of dogs and the archaeological remains of dog bones and burials are the only evidence that the breed ever existed. Modern dog population on the island are the descendants of foreign breeds later reintroduced in the 19th century as companions for European settlers.

Marquesan kingfisher

The Marquesan kingfisher or Marquesas kingfisher (Todiramphus godeffroyi) is a species of bird in the family Alcedinidae. It is endemic to French Polynesia. It is threatened by habitat loss and predation by introduced species, and is currently classified as Critically endangered, with fewer than 500 individuals left in the wild.


Mohotani (sometimes spelt Moho Tani; also called Molopu or Motane) is an uninhabited island southeast of Hiva Oa and east of Tahuata in the southern Marquesas Islands. It has an area of 15 km². Much of the island's sparse vegetation has been destroyed by feral goats and sheep, to the extent that following its rare rains, the sea around it is stained red from runoff. Early reports describes the island as fertile, with forest and fields. When Thor Heyerdahl visited the island in 1938, there were only a few goats and remains of deserted huts and villages.

Mohotani is administratively part of the commune (municipality) of Hiva-Oa, itself in the administrative subdivision of the Marquesas Islands.

It is reported that at one time the island was inhabited by a clan called the “Moi a Tiu”, but that population has long since been wiped out by disease and war, the few survivors having departed for Hiva ʻOa. In pre-European times, the island was considered part of the territory of the province of Pepane.

In 1992, the island and its surrounding smaller islands (including Terihi) were officially protected by the declaration of the Motane Nature Reserve.

Motu Iti (Marquesas Islands)

Motu Iti (sometimes also called Hatu Iti) is one of the northern Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia. Located west-northwest from Nuku Hiva, Motu Iti is the site of extensive seabird rookeries.

Motu Iti is administratively part of the commune (municipality) of Nuku-Hiva, itself in the administrative subdivision of the Marquesas Islands.

Motu One (Marquesas Islands)

Motu One (Marquesan for "Sand Island"; French: Îlot de Sable) is the name of a small sandbank with no vegetation located on the western edge of a coral reef. The reef is approximately 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) in diameter and the islet or islets are less than a hectare in surface, rising only a few feet above sea level and changing shape regularly owing to the action of the currents.Motu One is the northernmost of the Marquesas Islands, located about 30 kilometres (19 mi) northeast of Eïao and 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) northeast of Hatutu. It is also the only island in the group that is not made of exposed volcanic material, being a calcareous coral reef on a volcanic plug.Motu One is administratively part of the commune (municipality) of Nuku-Hiva, itself in the administrative subdivision of the Marquesas.

Although Motu One was reportedly visited by Marquesans, primarily on egg-collecting missions, there is no archaeological evidence that they were ever inhabited. The first Westerners to sight the islet were on the 1813-1814 voyage of the American commander Commodore David Porter, who named it Lincoln Island. Subsequent explorers also called it Sand Island.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Taiohae

Notre Dame Cathedral (French: Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Taiohae; Cathédrale Notre-Dame des Marquises) is a 20th-century church that serves as the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Taiohae o Tefenuaenata. It is located in the Meau Valley near the capital city on the island of Nuku Hiva.The construction of the cathedral began in 1973 on the site of an earlier 19th-century church by the same name. The new cathedral opened in 1977. It is the largest church on the Marquesas Islands.

Nuku Hiva

Nuku Hiva (sometimes spelled "Nukahiva") is the largest of the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia, an overseas country of France in the Pacific Ocean. It was formerly also known as Île Marchand and Madison Island.

Herman Melville wrote his book Typee based on his experiences in the Taipivai valley in the eastern part of Nuku Hiva. Robert Louis Stevenson's first landfall on his voyage on the Casco was at Hatihe'u, on the north side of the island, in 1888.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Taiohae

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Taiohae (or Tefenuaenata or Hakapehi) (Latin: Dioecesis Taiohaënus seu Humanae Telluris; French: Diocèse de Taiohae o Tefenuaenata), in French Polynesia, is a suffragan diocese in the ecclesiastical province of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Papeete, yet still depends on the missionary Roman Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Its cathedral episcopal see is the Cathédrale Notre-Dame des Îles Marquises, dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus at Taiohae, on Nuku Hiva, Marquesas islands (French: Îles Marquises).

Sinoto's lorikeet

The Sinoto's lorikeet (Vini sinotoi) is a species of parrot that became extinct 700–1300 years ago. It was identified from fossils on the Marquesas Islands.

The species epithet commemorates anthropologist Yosihiko H. Sinoto who collected the holotype in 1965.


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.

Ua Huka

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) to the east of Nuku Hiva, at 8°54′S 139°33′W.

Ua Pou

Ua Pou (French: Ua Pou, North Marquesan: ’uapou) is the third largest of the Marquesas Islands, in French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. It is located about 50 km (30 mi.) south of Nuku Hiva, in the northern Marquesas. Until the beginning of the 1980s, it was the most populous of the Marquesas Islands, because when the other islands were being ravaged by diseases introduced by European explorers and traders, the Catholic priests on the island finally took to quarantining the remnant of the native population inside their churches whenever visiting ships approached the island, thereby reducing their exposure to external diseases.

The center of the island is characterized by four high basalt pillars that reach high above the surrounding mountains. The highest of these pillars, Mount Oave (Mont Oave), reaches to 1,230 m (4,040 ft) above sea level and is the highest elevation in the Marquesas.

The island covers an area of 105.6 square kilometres (41 square miles), and is located just northwest of the small island of Motu Oa. Its population was 2,213 at the 2017 census. The largest settlement is Hakahau, on Hakahau Bay, on the northeast coast.

Ultramarine lorikeet

The ultramarine lorikeet (Vini ultramarina) is a species of parrot in the family Psittaculidae, endemic to the Marquesas Islands. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest, subtropical or tropical moist montane forest and plantations. It is threatened mainly by introduction of the black rat and also by deforestation.

Climate data for Atuona, Hiva ʻOa
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 30
Daily mean °C (°F) 27
Average low °C (°F) 23
Average precipitation mm (inches) 110
Source: Weatherbase[10]
Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia
Northern Marquesas:
Southern Marquesas:
Polynesian triangle
Polynesian outliers


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