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Austral Islands

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Austral Islands
Native name:
Îles Australes (French) / Tuha'a Pae (Tahitian)
Flag of the Austral Islands.svg
Flag of the Austral Islands
French Polynesia-CIA WFB Map.png
Austral Islands is located in Pacific Ocean
Austral Islands
Austral Islands
Austral Islands is located in French Polynesia
Austral Islands
Austral Islands
LocationPacific Ocean
Coordinates23°23′00″S 149°27′00″W / 23.38333°S 149.45000°W / -23.38333; -149.45000
Total islands7
Major islandsTupua'i, Rūrutu, Ra'ivāvae, Rapa Iti
Area152 km2 (59 sq mi)
Highest elevation650 m (2130 ft)
Highest pointMont Perau
CollectivityFrench Polynesia French Polynesia
Largest settlementRūrutu (pop. 2,466[1])
Population6,965[1] (2017)
Pop. density43/km2 (111/sq mi)
LanguagesFrench language, Tahitian, Rapa, Polynesian languages
Additional information
Time zone
Map of the Austral Islands
Map of the Austral Islands

The Austral Islands (French: Îles Australes, officially Archipel des Australes; Tahitian: Tuha'a Pae) are the southernmost group of islands in French Polynesia, an overseas country of the French Republic in the South Pacific. Geographically, they consist of two separate archipelagos, namely in the northwest the Tupua'i islands (French: Îles Tubuaï) consisting of the Îles Maria, Rimatara, Rūrutu, Tupua'i Island proper and Ra'ivāvae, and in the southeast the Bass Islands (French: Îles basses) composed of the main island of Rapa Iti and the small Marotiri (also known as Bass Rocks or Îlots de Bass). Inhabitants of the islands are known for their pandanus fiber weaving skills.[2] The islands of Maria and Marotiri are not suitable for sustained habitation. Several of the islands have uninhabited islets or rocks off their coastlines. Austral Islands' population is 6,965 on almost 150 km2 (58 sq mi). The capital of the Austral Islands administrative subdivision is Tupua'i.

Tubuai, Austral Islands.
Tubuai, Austral Islands.


Whaling vessels were among the earliest and most consistent visitors to the islands in the 19th century. The first such vessel for which a record exists is the New Hazard in 1813.[3] These ships came for fresh drinking water, firewood and food provisions. Sometimes they also took aboard islanders to serve as crewmen on their ships.[citation needed]


The Tuha'a Pae or Austral Islands (French: Îles Australes or Archipel des Australes) are the southernmost group of islands in French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the South Pacific. Geographically, the Austral Islands consist of two separate archipelagos. From northwest to southeast they are:

The islands of Maria and Marotiri are not suitable for sustained habitation. Several of the islands have uninhabited islets or rocks off their coastlines.

The chain is associated with the Macdonald hotspot. The only active volcano is the Macdonald seamount (40m depth).[4]

In administrative terms, the Austral Islands (including the Bass Islands) constitute an administrative subdivision, the Tuha'a Pae or Austral Islands (subdivision administrative des (Îles) Australes), one of French Polynesia's five administrative subdivisions (subdivision administratives). Geographically, the administrative subdivision of the Austral Islands is identical with the constituency of the Austral Islands (circonscription des Îles Australes), one of French Polynesia's six constituencies (circonscriptions électorales) for the Assembly of French Polynesia.

The capital of the Austral Islands administrative subdivision is Tupua'i.


The Austral islands constitute the Tubuai tropical moist forests terrestrial ecoregion. The natural vegetation consisted of lowland and montane rain forests. Much of the original forest has been mostly cleared for pasture and agriculture. The islands are home to several endemic plants and animals, including the Rimatara reed warbler (Acrocephalus rimatarae), Rapa fruit-dove (Ptilonopus huttoni), and Kuhl's lorikeet (Vini kuhli).[5]

Most of the islands are surrounded by coral reefs. The islands constitute a distinct marine ecoregion.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Population". Institut de la statistique de la Polynésie française (in French). Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  2. ^ "Australs Resorts". Tahiti Travel Planners. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  3. ^ Rober Langdon (ed.), Where the whalers went: an index to the Pacific ports and islands visited by American whalers (and some other ships) in the 19th century, (1984), Canberra, Pacific Manuscripts Bureau, p.1. ISBN 0-86784-471-X
  4. ^ Gillespie, Rosemary G.; David A. Clague (2009). Encyclopedia of Islands. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. p. 342. ISBN 9780520256491. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  5. ^ "Tubuai tropical moist forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.

External links

This page was last edited on 13 May 2021, at 16:03
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