Papeete

Papeete

[pah-pee-ey-tey, puh-pee-tee]
Papeete, town (2007 pop. 26,017), capital of Tahiti and of French Polynesia, South Pacific. A port on the NW coast of Tahiti, Papeete ships copra, vanilla, and mother-of-pearl. The town has an important French nuclear laboratory and an international airport. The University of French Polynesia is nearby in Punaauia.

Commune (pop., 2002: commune, 26,181; urban agglom., 124,864), port, and capital of French Polynesia. It is located on the northwestern coast of Tahiti. A tropical city with tall palms and exotic flowers, it is one of the largest urban and commercial centres in the South Pacific Ocean. By 1829 its excellent harbour made it a place of trade and a port of call for whalers. In 1880 it was annexed by the French, and it became a commune in 1890. It is a major tourist base and a centre for Pacific Rim trade.

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Papeete ("water from a basket", see footnote for variant spelling) is the capital of French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. The commune (municipality) of Papeete is located on the island of Tahiti, in the administrative subdivision of the Windward Islands, of which Papeete is the administrative capital. The French High Commissioner also resides in Papeete. It is the primary center of Tahitian and French Polynesian public and private governmental, commercial, industrial and financial services, the hub of French Polynesian tourism and a commonly used Port of call. The Windward Islands are themselves part of the Society Islands.

The urban area of Papeete had a total population of 131,695 inhabitants at the August 2007 census, 26,017 of whom lived in the commune of Papeete proper.

History

The area that now constitutes Papeete was first settled by the British missionary William Crook of the London Missionary Society in 1818. Queen Pōmare IV moved her court to Papeete and made it her capital in the late 1820s, and the town grew into a major regional shipping and transportation center. Papeete was retained as Tahiti's capital after France took control of the Tahitian Islands and made them a protectorate in 1842. Herman Melville was imprisoned in Papeete in 1842; his experiences there became the basis for the novel Omoo. Paul Gauguin journeyed to and toured Papeete in 1891 and, except for a two-year period in 1893-1895, never returned to France. Robert Louis Stevenson also spent time in Papeete in 1888. Half of Papeete was destroyed by a major fire in 1884, which then prohibited the use of native building materials. A major cyclone caused extensive damage to the city in 1906, and a French naval vessel was sunk in the harbor in October 1914 by two German men-of war, which bombarded Papeete.

The growth of the city was boosted by the decision to move the nuclear weapon test range from Algeria to the atolls of Mururoa and Fangataufa, some 1,500 km at the east of Tahiti; this originated in particular in the construction of the Faa'a airport next to Pape'ete, the only international airport in French Polynesia. In 1983, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints built the Papeete Tahiti Temple here because of the large number of members in the region. On September 5, 1995 the government of Jacques Chirac conducted the first of the last series of nuclear test detonations off the shores of Moruroa. A resulting riot in Papeete lasted for two days and damaged the international airport, injured 40 people, and scared away tourism for some time.(Similar rioting occurred after another French nuclear test in the same area in 1987).

Demographics

The urban area of Papeete had a total population of 131,695 inhabitants at the August 2007 census, 26,017 of whom lived in the commune of Papeete proper. The urban area of Papeete is made up of 7 communes:

  • Faaa (which became in 1988 the most populated commune in the urban area)
  • Papeete (historically the most populated commune in the urban area, and still the administrative capital)
  • Punaauia
  • Pirae
  • Mahina
  • Paea
  • Arue

Construction has boomed since the 1960s due to an influx of 35,000 immigrants (20,000 from France and 15,000 from French Polynesia's outer islands) in response to an improved infrastructure and France's nuclear testing program.

Travel and tourism

Arrival and departure

Traveling tourists arrive and depart Papeete via cruise ship at Papeete Harbor or domestic airline at Faa'a International Airport, which was completed and opened in 1962.

Transportation

Primary roads consist of the 3-lane "Boulevard Pomare" along the city's harbor front which extends into a 4-lane highway.

Climate

Sights

  • Heiva festival (proposed)
  • Tahiti Manava Visitors Bureau
  • The waterfront esplanade
  • Bougainville Park (once named Albert Park, in honor of a former Belgian king and World War One hero, is now named for Louis Antoine de Bougainville, the first French explorer to circumnavigate the globe.
  • Cathedral of Notre Dame of Papeete
  • Temple de Paofai
  • The Territorial Assembly is the heart of the Polynesian government and contains the Territorial Assembly building, the High Commissioner's residence and also a once popular clubhouse of Paul Gauguin. It was also once the site of the royal residence and palace of Queen Pomare IV of Tahiti, who ruled from 1827 to 1877.
  • Gaston Flosse's presidential palace
  • The Monument to Pouvanaa a Oopa (a decorated World War One hero, Tahitian nationalist, and deputy to Paris for the Tahitian Territorial Assembly)
  • The Mairie (town hall)

Shopping

  • Marché Papeete ("municipal market") is a primarily famous Tahitian landmark. The market sells oils, handicrafts, and various souvenir items.

Papeete in popular culture

Note

The name Papeete is sometimes spelled Pape‘ete in Tahitian, using the okina to represent the glottal stop, as promoted by the Académie Tahitienne and accepted by the territorial government Most often, however, this is omitted.

See also

Footnotes

References

  • Kay, Robert F. Hidden Tahiti, Ulysses Press, Berkeley, California, 2001. ISBN 1-56975-222-2.

External links

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