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French Polynesia



French (franc) and CFP (Colonial franc pacitique).

Name for the former Oceanic Settlements. In 1957 the new name was agreed, and, following a referendum in November 1958, the inhabitants voted to become an overseas territory of the French Republic.


The principal island of the French Oceanic Settlements. The first stamps issued specifically for the Settlements were overprinted TAHITI. These were replaced in 1893 with special stamps for the full colony, but further overprints for Tahiti appeared in 1903 and 1915.

Postal History
Letters can be found from Tahiti in the middle of the 19th century, usually carried privately to the nearest port - either in Australia or South America. The first stamps were local overprints on the French General issue, but these were replaced by a permanent issue in 1893.

From 1870-5 the local government, at its own cost, established a regular monthly service, first by sailing vessel and later by steamer, to send the mail from Tahiti via Skin Francisco to France.

In 1915 there were 14 POs in the group; 2 on Tahiti, Papeete and Taravao, and the rest spread among the other islands.

French steamers of the Messageries Maritimes did not reach as far as Tahiti until 1923 when a new service was introduced from New Caledonia to Marseille via New Hebrides, Oceanie and Panama. The first of these left Noumea for the return run on 15 August 1923 and arrived in Marseille on 27 October.

In 1928 a regular inter-island service was established by the government.

After 1958 the name of the colony was changed to French Polynesia.

Oceanic Settlements (Etablissements Francais de l'Oceanie or Oceanic)

FIRST STAMPS French Colonial General issues from 1880.

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED Locally overprinted June 1882.


1892, as France

Groups of islands in the South Pacific, now known as French Polynesia (Polynesie Francais). The most important are the Society Islands, named after the Royal Society by Captain Cook in 1759; Tuamotu Islands, Tubuai and the Marquesas.

Known to the early explorers from the 16th century, they were not colonized until 1774, when the Spaniards made an attempt to convert the natives to Catholicism. British missionaries followed in 1797 but had no greater success and were driven out by a civil war. They returned in 1812 with the King, who had gone into exile with them, but after he died in 1824, their influence waned and they left the islands.

French missionaries and traders returned in the 1830s and in 1843 the Society Islands became a protectorate and, in 1880, a colony. The other islands were added in 1903.

The Oceanic Settlements declared for de Gaulle in 1940 and the name was changed to French Polynesia in 1958.

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