Tuamotu Archipelago

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Tuamotu Archipelago

(to͞oämō`to͞o) or

Low Archipelago,

coral island group (2002 pop. 14,876), 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 comprise c.80 atolls in a 1,300-mi (2,092-km) chain, with a total land area of c.330 sq mi (850 sq km). Rangiroa is the largest island; Fakarava is the most important commercially. The islands have coconut, pandanus, and breadfruit trees and produce cultured pearls, pearl shell, and copra. The islands were visited by the Spanish in 1606, came under a French protectorate in 1844, and were annexed by France in 1881. A small part of the group is governed with the Gambier IslandsGambier Islands
, volcanic islands (6 sq mi/15.5 sq km; 2002 pop. 1,097), South Pacific, near the southeast end of the Tuamotu Archipelago. The group is a part of French Polynesia. It comprises a cluster of four inhabited islands known as Mangareva and many uninhabited atolls.
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; MakateaMakatea
, formerly Aurora
, island, South Pacific, one of the most northwesterly of the Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia. The center of the island was once a solid mass of phosphate that was mined jointly by the British and the French until 1966, when the
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 Island is under the administration of the Society IslandsSociety Islands,
island group (2002 pop. 214,445), South Pacific, a part of French Polynesia. The group comprises the Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands (total land area c.650 sq mi/1,680 sq km), two clusters of volcanic and coral islands lying in a 450-mi (724-km) chain.
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. The Tuamotu group was formerly called Paumotu, or Dangerous Archipelago, because hundreds of ships have been wrecked on its reefs and atolls. Some islands of the group were used for French nuclear experiments.

Tuamotu Archipelago

 

(also Paumotu), an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, in Polynesia; part of French Polynesia. Area, 810 sq km. Population, more than 6,000 (1970). The principal city is Rotoava.

The Tuamotu Archipelago comprises two parallel ridges of low atolls (hence its third name, Low Archipelago) and coral islands and reefs. The southeastern group of the Gambier Islands is frequently included in it. The vast majority of the archipelago’s population is made up of the Tuamotuans, a Polynesian people. Use of the Tahitian language has spread in the islands, and in the northwest Tahitian has replaced the Tuamotuan language entirely. Most Tuamotuans are Catholic, though some are Mormon.

The climate is tropical and humid with an annual precipitation of 1,500 to 2,200 mm. Vegetation is sparse. Screw pines and banyan trees grow on the large islands and shrubs on the small islands. Coconut palms, breadfruit, and bananas are cultivated, and local industries include commercial fishing and pearl fishing.

Tuamotu was discovered by the Portuguese navigator Pedro Fernández de Quiros in 1606. Many of the islands were discovered and described in the early 19th century by the Russian navigators O. E. Kotsebu, F. F. Bellingshausen, and M. P. Lazarev.

Tuamotu Archipelago

a group of about 80 coral islands in the S Pacific, in French Polynesia. Pop.: 15 973 (2002). Area: 860 sq. km (332 sq. miles)