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Tahiti / Blog / 10 interesting facts nobody has told you about French Polynesia

10 interesting facts nobody has told you about French Polynesia

  • Cannibalism was still practiced in the Marquesas Islands until the late 19th century. It was a common tradition that ensured survival in times of scarcity. It was also a fitting end for enemies since there was constant warfare between the families of the various valleys.


    Tiki in Nuku Hiva.

  • France subsidizes the islands’ legal system, healthcare, education and security. French nationals who live and work there earn 1.8% higher salaries than they would at home. This measure also applies to other Europeans and goes back to the time when French Polynesia was being settled (over 50 years ago). It took about three weeks to get there by sea and they couldn’t return for several months due to the shortage of ships. This meant that no one wanted to go, so the government had to encourage people to settle in the country by reinforcing their vested rights.
  • Inhabitants of French Polynesia do not pay income tax, but there is an indirect tax on products. The tax on high-proof alcohol is 200% and on beer 100%. That’s why beer is expensive despite being produced in Tahiti (Hinano beer). Likewise, newly-established companies don’t pay taxes during their first ten years of activity. An undesirable side-effect of this rule is that abandoned hotels are a common sight since the owners exploit them for ten years and abandon them and start a new enterprise once the fiscal exemption ends.

     Hinano factory Tahití.

    hotel bora bora

    Hotel ‘overwater’  Bora Bora.

  • The people of the Society Islands bury their loved ones on their own private plots or residential properties. You can see the small cemeteries next to their houses where their most direct relatives lie.
  • There is fiber optic cable. The 4G Internet connection is included among the precepts of the French bluebook, which collects all aspects affecting France and French Polynesia. To do so, they carried out the major engineering project of laying a submarine fiber optic cable more than 3,100 miles long from Hawaii to French Polynesia.
  • Sundays in French Polynesia are spent with the family. The custom is to prepare and eat a copious breakfast with dishes more suited to lunch or dinner. A lot of people go to church after that and then get together to enjoy activities in the open air. All activity stops at 12 noon. Shops close, no alcohol is sold and even bread cannot be found. You must keep this in mind and stock up on supplies beforehand if you are in French Polynesia over the weekend.
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    Church on Sunday

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    Families in Temae

  • In French Polynesia you will see many signs that read “Silence, worship”. This demonstrates the importance of religion throughout the entire country. In fact, religious buildings are the most elaborate and offer a stark contrast to the country’s housing. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholics, and Seventh-day Adventists coexist in the region.
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  • Another local custom is that both men and women wear natural flowers as a daily complement, either in the form of leafy wreaths of flowers and sprigs or single flowers. Men usually wear an unopened tiare flower on their right side. Women, on the other hand, wear a flower on the left to indicate that they are in a relationship and on the right to announce that they are open to proposals.

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    Flowers hat

  • Trucks were used as buses until relatively recent times. Currently, the make of vehicles for public transport is Mercedes-Benz due to an agreement with Brazil under which they were acquired. Trucks are still used on some islands, but mainly for school transport.
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    Public Truck

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    Public bus

  • The United States of America established its Pacific area military base in Bora Bora during World War II. The Te Ava Nui channel on Bora Bora, located to the west of the island between the motus of Toopua and Tevairoa, was dynamited by the Americans in order to make it wider and deeper (as it is today) to enable submarines and deep-draft ships to access it. This enabled them to protect their military fleet from attack by the Japanese.
    vista aerea bora bora

    Paso dinamitado por los estadounidenses para que cupiese su flota durante la II Guerra Mundial.

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    Bunker II World War



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