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French Polynesia

People, Economy, and Government

The inhabitants of French Polynesia are mainly indigenous Polynesians or those of mixed Polynesian and European descent (known as Demis); about 55% are Protestant and 30% are Roman Catholic. There is a considerable Chinese and a smaller French minority. French and Tahitian are both official languages.

Tropical fruits and coffee are grown on plantations, and there is pearl farming and deep-sea commercial fishing. Tourism is also important to the economy. Cultured pearls, coconut products, mother-of-pearl, vanilla, and shark meat are exported, while fuels, foodstuffs, and equipment are imported.

French Polynesia is governed under the 1958 French constitution. The president of France, represented by the High Commissioner of the Republic, is the head of state. The government is headed by the president of French Polynesia, who is elected by the legislature for a five-year term; there are no term limits. Members of the 57-seat Territorial Assembly are elected by popular vote for five-year terms. The territory also elects two deputies to the National Assembly and one member to the Senate of France.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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