Austral Islands


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Austral Islands

(ô`strəl), volcanic island group (2002 pop. 6,386), South Pacific, part of French PolynesiaFrench Polynesia,
officially Overseas Lands of French Polynesia, internally self-governing dependency (2002 pop. 245,516) of France, consisting of 118 islands in the South Pacific. The capital is Papeete, on Tahiti.
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. They are sometimes known as the Tubuai Islands. The group comprises seven islands, plus islets, with a total land area of c.115 sq mi (300 sq km). Tubuai, the largest island (c.17 sq mi/44 sq km), was visited by Capt. James CookCook, James,
1728–79, English explorer and navigator. The son of a Yorkshire agricultural laborer, he had little formal education. After an apprenticeship to a firm of shipowners at Whitby, he joined (1755) the royal navy and surveyed the St.
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 in 1777 and was annexed by France in 1880. European diseases and slavers very nearly wiped out the native Polynesian population of the islands, especially on Rapa. In 1938, French authorities imposed strict regulations on immigration and tourism. Coffee, arrowroot, tobacco, and copra are produced on the islands.