Earth : Oceania : Polynesia

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Polynesia is the most far-flung, easterly region of Oceania. Ethnically and linguistically, it's far flung peoples migrated further distances in shorter times from their ancestral home in Taiwan than any other ethnic migration before the world-wide colonisations of the Europeans 500 years later.


Polynesia comprises the following island nations:

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American Samoa
Cook Islands
An archipelago of fifteen islands spread out over 2.2 million square kilometers of the Pacific
The eastern two thirds of this sprawling island nation fall within the scope of Polynesia. Remote and poor, the sun rises first here every day.
French Polynesia
Includes three islands with a strong claim to being the most beautiful island in the world, Bora Bora, Tahiti and Moorea; also Mururoa where the French carried out nuclear tests until 1996.
Just one flight a week, from Auckland.
Two main volcanic islands with luxuriant vegetation, traditional culture and wonderful open-sided houses.
The so-called “Friendly islands” and a Kingdom. But traditional and modern cultures are now clashing.
One of the smallest countries in the world in terms of population.

It also includes smaller overseas territories of larger nations, including:

Baker and Howland Islands (USA)
Easter Island (Chile)
An isolated island with its amazing stone carvings.
Hawaii (USA)
Jarvis Island (USA)
Johnston Atoll (USA)
Midway Islands (USA)
Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef (USA)
Pitcairn Islands (UK)
With descendants of the Bounty mutineers.
Tokelau (New Zealand)
Wallis and Futuna (France)

New Zealand is the largest Polynesian nation, both in numbers of residents of Polynesian ethnicity and land area. Indeed, there are more Cook Islanders and Tongans living in Auckland, New Zealand than in their home islands. Auckland airport is also the primary air hub for all of Polynesia. However, owing to its size, it is included as its own separate region of Oceania for the organisational purposes of this travel guide.

Cities to visit

Other destinations

  • Aitutaki — the classic picture postcard of a palm tree fringed tropical island with turquoise waters, in the Cook Islands.
  • Bora Bora — the most beautiful lagoon of French Polynesia, but incredibly pricey.
  • Moorea — budget alternative to Bora Bora with beautiful scenery.
  • Vava'u — group of more than 50 islands in Tonga, a common destination for yachters.



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