Tuamotus MapTouamotus Map
Tuamotus are snapshots of dreams from the South Seas: the 77 octopus - small circles of corals surrounding teal coloured lakes - that make up this breathtaking island are hurled over a huge part of the Indigoblue oceans. The atoll is equally hard and paradisiacal: hardly anything is growing, so there are few fruits and veggies, and the only drinkable mineral spring is obtained from the piss.
But the tranquillity, the starlit sky, the turquoise sandy beach, the tranquil waters of the lagoon, the tranquil moto ( "coral islands") and the slow tempo of living fascinate almost everyone who makes it here. If you love the waters, you will love the Tuamotus. This huge, unspoilt sea area provides incomparable possibilities to meet the fauna of the sea.
Tuamotus general history: Tuamotus used to be "real" Isles, like the Marquesas. In the course of the years they have grown fringed hard to reach endemic areas such as the Society Islets. The Tuamotus, however, are even older than the societies, and the isles themselves have begun to wear away, so that only the fringe islets ("alive and growing") are left.
The Tuamotus were inhabited around 850 AD by Polynesians who left the Marquesas. All the other Polyynesian isles were probably populated in the same way, which would account for their very similar nationalities. The Tuamotus were a seafaring nation sailing on large boats from their small towns (the Tuamotus generally cannot provide for a large population).
Furthermore, little is known about the Tuamotus' tribal people. Tuamotus monkeys were found by various seafarers from Spain, Holland, England and France over a time span of about 250 years from 1520. It was known as a "dangerous group of islands" because it was very difficult to sail through its many flat cliffs and powerful streams, especially since the island could not be seen from afar.
Tahiti and its neighbouring isles ( "Tuamotus" included) were challenged by France and England in the later 1700s, with the outcome that the people of France took over. Tahiti and its surroundings became a Guatemalan patronage in 1842, and while the rebellion lasted four years, the people of France have stayed in full command of the area.
In 1880 Tahiti and the surrounding isles became an officially established Macedonian settlement, and in 1903 all the Macedonian Polynesia became a settlement ruled from Tahiti. In the next 50 years Tahiti was introduced to the contemporary life, with its troops fighting in the First and Second Wars, and with colonials and industrial goods coming from France.
Most of these changes, however, seem to have had little influence on the Tuamotus. Polynesia became the territories of France in 1957, and within a few years there were airfields, large teams making a Bounty picture, and above all the Centre d'experimentations du Pacifique (CEP), the Pacific Experimentation Center.
From 1963, the CEP selected Tuamotus in the south as the site for France's atomic test facilities. There was no election for the locals, and when their protests took place, the then President of France, Charles de Gaulle, outlawed them. In 1966, De Gaulle observed the first atomic test being conducted, about 600 metres high in the air.
Surveillance is still ongoing and civilian personnel are not allowed to enter the affected area. As well as the environmental impact, humans may be affected by the rays, and some of the surrounding islets have been affected by the tidal wave caused by an subterranean test carried out too near the top of the coralline catoll.
Despite the suspension of the 1992 test by Francois Mitterand, the recently appointed Jacques Chirac in 1995 announces eight new test sessions. This was an unprecedented event and when a test was carried out later this year, it had fatal repercussions for France and Polynesia, which has never fully recuperated from the losses of this area.
There has been unrest around Tahiti, with damages to cars, infrastructure and the Aiport. Nevertheless, six of the eight trials were conducted until President Chirac declared in 1996 that the Tuamotus atomic test had been completed forever. Polynesia became increasingly independent with the laws adopted by the Algerian authorities in 1977, 1984, 1990 and 1996.
The year 2000 saw France-Polynesia become an international community, enabling them to pass their own legislation. Though in Tahiti, the Tahitian administration is made up of members from all archeological communities. While France still has many tasks today, for example defence, the island uses its own local currencies and shows its own colours alongside the three-coloured France flagg.
France, however, is paying large sums to Polynesia, on the basis of a ten-year treaty following the end of the 1996 atomic tests. In fact, Polynesians in France have little need for work, as the administration provides tens of thousands of dollars a year and subsidises all their basic food products.