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French Polynesia

Official Country Name: French Polynesia
Region: Oceania
Population: 249,110
Language(s): French, Tahitian
Literacy Rate: 98%

French Polynesia is an overseas territory of France that includes Tahiti and 118 smaller islands in the eastern South Pacific. There are 5 major islands (archipelagos): Society Islands, which include Tahiti and Moorea; the Marquesas Islands; the Austral Islands; the Tuamotu Archipelago; and the Gambier Islands.

Children generally start school at age 5 and complete primary education by age 12. The ages of compulsory education are 6 through 16. Tahiti has a literacy rate of 98 percent. On some of the smaller islands though, the dropout rate is extremely high, with only 20 percent or fewer students even finishing elementary school.

All school instruction is in French. French Polynesia has the same educational system as France, but it is altered slightly to conform with needs specific to the territories. Additionally, public education is financed through the government, which also subsidizes some private schools that are operated by churches.

Higher education can be attained in French Polynesia. In 1987, the French University of the Pacific was founded in Papeete, Tahiti, to encourage citizens to attain higher education more frequently and to develop scientific and cultural relationships with other countries.


The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Factbook 2000. Directorate of Intelligence, 1 January 2000. Available from http://www.cia.gov/.

Tahiti Friendship Society. The Friendship Society, 1997. Available from www.tahitinet.com/presence.html.

—LeAnna DeAngelo

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