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Tuamotu Archipelago

Tuamotu Archipelago (tōämōˈtō) [key] or Low Archipelago, coral island group (2002 pop. 14,876), South Pacific, part of French Polynesia. They comprise c.80 atolls in a 1,300-mi (2,092-km) chain, with a total land area of c.330 sq mi (850 sq km). Rangiroa is the largest island; Fakarava is the most important commercially. The islands have coconut, pandanus, and breadfruit trees and produce cultured pearls, pearl shell, and copra. The islands were visited by the Spanish in 1606, came under a French protectorate in 1844, and were annexed by France in 1881. A small part of the group is governed with the Gambier Islands; Makatea Island is under the administration of the Society Islands. The Tuamotu group was formerly called Paumotu, or Dangerous Archipelago, because hundreds of ships have been wrecked on its reefs and atolls. Some islands of the group were used for French nuclear experiments.

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

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