Culture & History Tahiti

Tahiti, Otahiti for the first Europeans, the “Island of Love,” the “New Cyther” for Bougainville, the myth of paradise, of Rousseau’s “good savage”, all those names to describe the same beauty of this island, symbol just by itself of the entire French Polynesia.

Two volcanos emerged from the sea to compose the island of Tahiti : 3-million-year-old Tahiti Nui (the Big Tahiti) volcano, and only 500,000 years for the one of Tahiti Iti (the Little Tahiti). These two extinct volcanoes are joined together by the Taravao isthmus. Not only one of the most recent island of Polynesia, Tahiti is also the largest (1,045 square kilometers) and the most populated (150,371 persons).

Tahiti was not the first island to be settled on by Polynesians. According to the legend, it would have been populated around 850 AD by people coming from Raiatea, the “Sacred Island,” cradle of the Polynesian civilization.

The supremacy of Tahiti over the other islands came with the first Europeans’ arrival. At that time, the island was divided into 6 large districts ruled by chiefs (ari’i). The Pomare dynasty is issued from the district of “Te Porionuu” (Pare, Arue) and it imposed itself thanks to the assistance of the navigators remaining in Matavai Bay.

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