Flag of French Polynesia – The Flag of Five Island groups

Read on for details on the flag of French Polynesia. French Polynesia is an overseas possession of France.

The flag of these islands has two narrow red horizontal bands at the top and at the bottom.

French Polynesia's Flag

They surround the wide white band, which is centered in the middle of the flag.

In this white band is a circle scene that depicts a canoe sailing under a yellow sun.

The canoe is shown in a blue and white wave pattern in the lower half of the disk.

The crew of five represent the five island chains in the group that are called the Australs, Gambier, Marquesas, Society and Tuamotu chains.

The yellow and white ray pattern is also repeated on the upper half of the disk.

The flag of French Polynesia’s colors are the traditional red and white Polynesian colors.

The flag has a size ratio of 2:3.

Before the autonomy of French Polynesia was grated in 1984, their flag was hoisted under the French tricolor.

Now the French tricolor flag is flown on official occasions.

In 1984, French Polynesia was granted a self-government status.

As part of that right, they were allowed to freely determine the distinctive signs of its personality.

Thus the present flag of French Polynesia, bearing the double outrigger canoe, came into being.

Tahiti is the main island.

Since the most dominant group was Tahitian, it was not felt the word “French” should be part of their country’s name.

They felt more comfortable adopting the name Tahiti, actually Tahiti and its Islands.

A decree in December 1985 regulates the use of the flag of French Polynesia.

The flag of French Polynesia may be permanently hoisted over the grounds of the institutions; i.e., the Presidency and the Assembly.

It may also fly over other public buildings during official ceremonies.

History of the Flag of French Polynesia

In the South Pacific the French Polynesian islands are a group of islands that are spread over 2,000,000 square miles.

This area is as large as the continent of Europe.

The Islands are the territory of French Polynesia and its largest island, Tahiti, occupies about 60% of the islands land mass.

The Tahitians were great sailors and navigators who traversed vast distances of open ocean in outrigger canoes to settle as far and wide as present-day French Polynesia, Hawaii, New Zealand, parts of the New Guinea island, Tonga and the Cook Islands.

Polynesians from Tonga and Samoa Islands settled the Marquesas Islands, which are in the northeastern part of the group of islands, prior to 300 AD.

Hereditary tribal chieftains ruled the islands.

Europeans explorers from Spain and Portugal arrived on the islands during the 16th century.

English explorer Samuel Wallis visited the islands in 1767 and James Cook explored the area in 1769.

French explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville claimed the islands for France in 1768.

The French tricolor flag of red, white, and blue banners flew over the area.

The H.M.S. Bounty was captained by William Bligh arrived in the islands area in 1788.

British missionaries from the London Missionary Society arrived in 1797.

The British Union Jack flew over their structures.

By 1815, the British missionaries had a strong influence in the area.

They banned many Polynesian traditions of dance and music.

They destroyed carvings and temples connected to the native religion.

By 1842, the French had secured most of the area making it difficult for the British to remain.

In 1880, France proclaimed the islands as a French colony.

The French language is now one of the official languages of French Polynesia and hence it is another Francophone country where you can learn French, or practise speaking French.

There were many periods of nationalistic protest in this colony, which was called the French Pacific Settlements.

During World War II, nearly 1,000 Tahitians were part of the French forces.

Pressure from the Islanders forced France to extend French citizenship to all island inhabitants.

The first territorial assembly was established in 1946.

The islands had representation in the French Assembly by 1949.

In 1957, the territory was officially renamed the Territory of French Polynesia.

France is represented in the islands by a high commissioner.

Many citizens of the islands seek independence from France.

Officials in control of the local government are widely opposed to such a move.

Tahitians have been allowed to rediscover their culture and languages.

Tourism has increased.

Fishing and pearl farming have become strong local industries, but the territory still much very dependent on France for its economic survival.

In 1984, they were allowed to adopt their national flag of French Polynesia.

Because of the atomic testing in the Pacific, many of the Islanders again called for independence from France.

Due to strong political powers in France, this has not happened.

The Republic of France is still represented in the territory by a high commissioner appointed by the Republic.

The group of islands has taken over internal government, but calls for independence are still a permanent cry in the area.

by Linda Chambers

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