After the Polynesian great migration, European explorers visited the islands in the region on several occasions. Traders and whalers also visited, mainly from the Free Cities. In 1836, soon after the Great Latin American War, the Brazilians took the eastern portions of Polynesia, establishing the Brazilian Establishment of Oceania.
The nearest territories are Kiribati at northwest, the British territory of Pitcairn at east, and the French Polynesia at west.
In 1936, the colony became a Insular Province and the Polynesians were granted the right to vote and Brazilian citizenship. In 1948, it was renamed Brazilian Polynesia, to differ it from the french one. Since then, Brazilian Polynesia and its citizens enjoy equal status to the provinces of Brazil with self-government and political representation. Also around this period investment in economic and social development of the province, especially tourism, began to flow from Mainland Brazil.
Its motto is "Do mar viemos, o mar vivemos" (Portuguese: From the sea we came, the sea we live). This motto carries the Polynesian history as a sea-faring people, and living from the sea's produce, as well as Polynesian old and modern culture, which is turned to the sea and the beaches as souce of spirituality, wealth, food, enternainment, sport and income.
Polynesia comes from Greek: πολύς( "many") and νῆσος ( "Island"), and is the name given by the French Charles de Brosses to the group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean until then known as Southern Pacific Islands.
It is called Brazilian Polynesia to avoid confusion with its neighboor, the French Polynesia.
Settling of the archipelagos by Polynesians
The archipelago of the Marquesas was probably discovered and colonized by Polynesian navigators, a very dynamic civilization that was guided only by his knowledge of waves, winds and constellations in their navigations, coming from Samoa around 200 BC. From Marquesas, the Polynesians discovered other very distant islands like Hawaii to the north, New Zealand, called the Polynesians of Aotearoa, to the south, and Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, to the east. The Gambier Archipelago (Mangareva) was probably discovered and colonized in about 300 AD, the archipelago of Society was about 400 BC, the Tuamotus archipelago about 600 BC. These people were in the Neolithic period, and their livelihood was based on the taro crop, taro, sweet potato, the sugarcane, coconut, banana and breadfruit, creating pigs and chickens and fish.
First contacts with Europeans
The first European contact with Polynesia took place in January 24, 1521, when the Portuguese Ferdinando Magellean discovered Puka Puka, an atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago. Eleven years later, in 1595, the Spanish Alvaro de Mendaña and the Portuguese Pedro Fernandes de Queirós discovered the Marquesas islands, but kept their discovery secret to prevent the approach of other European poderios. On February 4 1606 is discovered by Queirós, the Actaeon group, and six days later the atoll of Hao, the fourth largest atoll of Polynesia. In the same year, on June 5, the British John Byron reaches Napuka and Tepoto. After ten years, the Dutch Jacob Le Maire and Willem Schouten reach Takaroa, Takapoto, Ahe and Rangiroa.
After more century than without contact with Europeans, on June 2, 1722, the Brazilian from Arcanis Tristan Gurgel discovered Makatea and four days later, Bora Bora. It was Charles de Brosses who appointed the Polynesian islands of the southern lands in 1756. Only in 1767, the Tahiti is discovered by the Englishman Samuel Wallis, and in 1768 by Frenchman Louis Antoine de Bougainville, who claims his ownership to France. Later, the British James Cook in 1769, explores the archipelago of Society and then discover Rurutu, situated in the archipelago of Southern, returning in 1773, 1774 and 1777. In parallel, the Spanish Domingo Boenechea comes to Tahiti in 1772, having returned in 1774 in order to install a permanent mission, but this failure.
From 1743 to 1880, the royal family Tahitian Pomare is expertly benefits from the presence of the Europeans to extend its power.
Protectorate to Insular Province
After the Great Latin American War, Brazil began to glimpse its colonial expansion to the west, toward the Pacific. In 1836, Brazilians founded settlements in eastern Tuamotus Archipelago, and claimed the Marquesas Islands and Mangareva, founding the Brazilian Establishment of Oceania. In addition to the settlements, the establishment also exercised protection over the natives in exchange for economic and military advantages.
After the Japanese invasion to Brazilian colonies in Asia, the Brazilian Polynesia became one of the main Brazilian naval bases in the Pacific, forming with the base Guadayaquil in Ecuador, the Pacific Defensive Line. Despite the care, Brazil and the US have managed to keep Japan away from their waters and push it back to the west.
Folowing the end of the Second World War, in 1946, the year's last session of the Imperial Realms' Council decided for the Act of Autonomy. It made a commitment to give independence to Brazilian colonies gradually, or integrate them to Brazil as a part of the nation. That decolonization process of the Brazilian colonial empire also affected the Brazilian Polynesia. The same year there was a plebiscite regarding the colony status. The islanders voted between three options: 1) become an independent state; 2) become a Brazilian federal unit equal to other provinces in rights, duties, nationality and citizenship; or 3) continue as colonial territory. 93% of the population voted for the second option. In 1947, the islands acquired the Insular Province status.
There are 63 islands in the Brazilian Polynesia.
It consists of 4 groups of islands. The most populous is Hiva Oa in the Marquesas Islands.
The island groups are:
- Marquesas Islands
- Tuamotus Archipelago (Eastern side)
- Mangareva Islands (or Gambier)
The Brazilian Polynesia's GDP in 2015 was US$ 11.25 billion, (if it was a sovereign country it would have the fifth largest economy in Oceania after Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii in the USA and Papua New Guinea). GDP per capita was US $ 43,402 in 2015, (if it was a sovereign country it would have the second GDP per capita, after only to Australia, but greater than all the independent island states of Oceania and Hawaii).
The Brazilian Polynesia has a developed economy, which is dependent on tourism, commercial fishing, fish farming, food industry and biotechnology. Tourist facilities are well developed and are available on the main islands. The vertical hydroponic agriculture of high productivity is very present, similar to other distant regions of Brazil such as Cozumel, Socotra, Jeju and Zenith. Also intensive agriculture and farming on floating platforms in the sea are well developed, allowing the province to export agricultural products and feed its own food industry. The Brazilian Polynesia is also famous for its cultured pearls industry.
Its main exports are fish, processed foods, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, medicines, pearls and seafood.
The climate of Brazilian Polynesia can be described as warm and tropical. Temperatures are warm all year round and can get hot in the summer but seldom reach more than 35 °C. The trade winds from east-southeast bring long cooling breezes throughout the years in the late afternoon and early evening.
The tropical rainy season is from December to February, with the hottest summer months. In general, temperatures between April and September are only slightly cooler than November to February.
Hurricanes can sometimes reach the Brazilian Polynesia between late January and mid-March. However, these storms are not mostly a danger to the islands because the usual routes of these storms are often too far south and never a hurricane that hit the Brazilian Polynesia was strong.
The total population in the general census of 2015 was of 259,230 inhabitants. In the 2015 census, 49% of the population lived in the capital, Vehina. By ethnicity, Brazilian Polynesia's population are 54% Polynesians, 21% Mixed, 13% White, 9% Black, 3% Asian.
In 2015, 78% of people living in Brazilian Polynesia were born in Brazilian Polynesia, 16% were born in the rest of Brazil, 6% were born in foreign countries.
Portuguese and Tahitian are co-official languages. Portuguese is spoken by 98% of the population and Tahitian by 11%. Besides these, 2% of the populations speaks Paumotuan and 1.2% speaks Marquesan and the people of Rapa Nui speak Rapa Nui. Those languages are regionally recognized.
Christianity is the main religion of the islands: the majority (44%) belong to various Protestant churches and a large minority (23%) are Roman Catholics. The largest congregation is the Lutheran Church. In addition, 14% follow Ra'iauahi (organized traditional Polynesian polytheism) and 7% of the population is Agnostic or Irreligious.
The Brazilian Polynesia is a Brazilian Insular Province. Despite the adjective (insular) it is, in practice, similar to any other Brazilian provinces in rights and duties. It means that it is an autonomous sub-national entity, having government (self-government, self-legislation and self-tax collecting) and its own constitution (Constitution of the Insular Province of Brazilian Polynesia), that is federated to other federal units of the country to form the Kingdom of the United Provinces of Brazil. As all of the Brazilian subnational entities, its government works as a presidential republic. The Executive Power is exercised by a Governor elected by universal suffrage for four years and the Judiciary by provincial courts of first and second instance that take care of common justice. Its legislature is an unicameral Legislative Assembly with elected deputies (representatives). The Legislative Assembly oversees the activities of the executive branch in the province and municipalities. The current governor is Heitor Mahealani.
Media and Telecommunications
The province is served by phone and radio, and broadband internet. The signal of these services, aided by the Equatorian Communication Satellite Line (LISCEq), in operation since 2000, is available with good quality in all the islands even in the most remote regions. The Maui Network is the most important regional television network, having programation in Portuguese and Tahitian.
There are paved 29 airports in the Brazilian Polynesia; among which the largest is the Vehina International Airport. Each island has its own airport which serves flights to other islands. Air Polynesia is the main carrier that flies around the islands, while the Aerobras and Brazilian Airlines are the main carriers in foreign travel.
There are also 10 ports of large and medium-sized passenger and 4 merchant ports, responsible for the province's exports.
The Brazilian Polynesia has literacy and education levels similar to the rest of Brazil. In addition to standard education at the federal level, the Polynesians also learn their history, culture and Polynesian languages.
The University of Huanui, is one of the Top 10 in Oceania.
The Brazilian Polynesia has been dependant to oil for its energy supply until the 1990s. Since then, the Brazilian energy projects reached the region. Today, its energy comes mainly from geothermal plants and floating solar plants.