Hiva Oa is the second largest island in the Marquesas Islands, in French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. It is the largest island of the Southern Marquesas group. Its name means “long ridgepole” in South Marquesan. The island is likely so named because of its long central ridge.
Administratively, Hiva Oa is part of the commune (municipality) of Hiva-Oa, itself in the administrative subdivision of the Marquesas Islands. Atuona, on the south side of Hiva Oa island, is the administrative centre of the commune. Atuona was formerly the seat of government for all of the Marquesas Islands, but it has been replaced by Taiohae on Nuku Hiva island.
The island was the final home of French painter Paul Gauguin and Belgian singer Jacques Brel, both of whom are buried in Calvary Cemetery, overlooking Atuona.
In late pre-European times, the island was nearly evenly divided into two provinces – Nuku in the west, and Pepane in the east.