General information on French Polynesia

The local French Polynesian SOS Children's Villages Association was founded in 1994. The creation of the association was prompted by the social conditions on the island of Tahiti and the lack of adequate care for children who had lost parental care. Our organisation started working in Papara on the west coast of the island, where it supports children and young people in need.


Happy to be in the care of SOS Children's Villages (Photo:SOS archives)

 

The Territory of French Polynesia, formerly "The French Colony of Oceania", is an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean. The territory comprises five main groups: the Society Islands, which include Tahiti and Bora-Bora, the Marquesas Islands, the Austral Islands (which are sometimes known as the Tubuai Islands), the Tuamotu Archipelago and the Gambier Islands. There are altogether 120 islands, 25 of which are uninhabited. The islands have a population of around 295,000 (July 2011 est.).

The island of Tahiti is the political and economic centre of French Polynesia. It is the most densely- populated and the capital city of Papeete, home to 133,000 inhabitants, is located here. In 1880 Tahiti became a French colony and the other islands were later annexed. In 1946, the country became an overseas territory and in the decades that followed it was granted increasing autonomy to rule over its own affairs.


SOS Children's Villages provides children in need with a loving home, and gives them a chance to have a childhood. (Photos: SOS archives)

 Demographically speaking, French Polynesia is a young country: around a quarter of the population is under 14 years of age, and 35 per cent are under the age of 20.

Most children benefit from the high investment in health care - in 2008, 13 per cent of gross domestic product was spent on the provision of medical services. Mothers and infants have access to good health care, and the mortality rates for these groups are low.

Children have to attend school for 10 years, but many poorer children do not complete this compulsory education. The lack of qualifications limits their prospects for future employment. The unemployment rate is especially high for those under 25: around fifty per cent of young adults in this age group do not have a job.

French Polynesia is often hit by natural disasters such as cyclones, tsunamis and earthquakes. They cause flooding, landslides and destroy homes and livelihoods. Children, as the most vulnerable section of society, are often affected and left without parental care.