French Polynesia Tuamotu


Rangiroa (meaning “Vast Sky” in Tuamotuan) or Te Kokota, is the largest atoll in the Tuamotus, and one of the largest in the world (although it is smaller than Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands and Huvadhu in the Maldives). It is located in the Palliser group. The nearest atoll is Tikehau, located only 12 km to the West.

The atoll consists of about 250 islands, islets and sandbars comprising a total land area of about 170 km². There are approximately 100 narrow passages, called hoa, in the fringing reef. The lagoon is approximately 1600 km². It is so large that it has its own horizon.

The chief town is Avatoru, located in the northwestern part of the atoll. Rangiroa has a total of 2334 inhabitants (2002 census).

The first recorded Europeans to arrive to Rangiroa were Dutch explorers Jacob le Maire and Willem Schouten during their 1615-1616 Pacific journey. They called this atoll “Vlieghen Island”.

Rangiroa appears in some maps as “Nairsa” or as “Dean’s island”. This atoll was visited by the Charles Wilkes expedition on September 7, 1839.

There is a territorial (domestic) airfield in Rangiroa which was inaugurated in 1965.

Source: Wikipedia (under GNU Free Documentation License)

French Polynesia Tuamotu


Fakarava, Havaiki-te-araro, Havai’i or Farea is an atoll in the west of the Tuamotu group in French Polynesia. It is the second largest of the Tuamotu atolls. The nearest land is Toau Atoll, which lies 14 km to the northwest.

The shape of Fakarava Atoll is roughly rectangular and its length is 60 km and its width 21 km. Fakarava has a wide and deep lagoon with a surface of 1,112 km² and two passes. The main pass to enter the lagoon, located in its northeastern end, is known as Passe Garuae and it is the largest pass in French Polynesia; the southern pass is called Tumakohua.

The first recorded European to arrive to Fakarava Atoll was Russian oceanic explorer Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen on July 17, 1820 on ships Vostok and Mirni. He named this atoll “Wittgenstein”.

Fakarava’s inhabitants were evangelized by Belgian Jesuit priest Honoré Laval in 1849. The church at Rotoava was dedicated in 1850.

There is a territorial (domestic) airfield in Fakarava which was inaugurated in 1995.

Fakarava is presently being classified by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve.

Fakarava has 701 inhabitants; the main village is called Rotoava.

Source: Wikipedia (under GNU Free Documentation License)