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The Empire of Polynesia (Hawaiian: Aupuni ʻEmepela o Polenekia), colloquially known as Polynesia (Polenekia), is a sovereign state located in Oceania. The nation is comprised of thousands of archipelagos and islands which are spread out across the Pacific Ocean.
The empire was formally established in 1887 with the unification of Hawaii and Samoa. Over the next few decades, the empire expanded to include additional kingdoms and chiefdoms which span across the Pacific.
Polynesia is a constitutional monarchy and a federation (one of the only remaining federal monarchies). The nation is populated mostly by ethnic Polynesians, with a sizable minority of Asians, Europeans, and various Pacific Islanders. The two official languages of Polynesia are English and Hawaiian, with the latter being the lingua franca of the various island groups.
The Polynesian peoples have dominated and colonized much of the Pacific islands, stretching from the Hawaiian Islands (Sandwich Islands) in the north, to New Zealand to the southwest, and Rapa Nui (Easter Island) to the southeast (coining the regionally named "Polynesian Triangle"). The Polynesian culture had existed for millennia prior to European contact in the 18th century.
Tensions existed among the Polynesians and the early European explorers, with many islanders stealing supplies and in some cases killing Europeans (the most noted was the killing of British Captain James Cook by Hawaiians in 1779). By the early 1800s, the British, French, and the Russians attempted to gain dominance in the Pacific. This included European-protection on several islands in exchange for trade agreements.
By the late 19th century, the growing military power of the Europeans had reached a point that establishing total control over the Polynesians became possible. The most important was the British victory over the Maori of New Zealand (allowing European settlement on the islands). The remaining islands were conquered by the late 19th century, with only Hawaii remaining independent of European control and Tonga retaining its monarchy under a British protectorate.
The Pacific would remain mostly unaffected during World War I (with the only exception being the British and Japanese gain former German colonies in the area). During the Nazi occupation of France (1940-1944), the Hawaiian armed forces assisted France in the protection of French possessions in Polynesia. This period helped to establish a commonality among the separate Polynesian peoples, and was a stating point towards the eventual unification of the islands after World War II.
The conclusion of the war also lead to the weakening of Britain and France, and the rise of Japan, the Soviet Union, and the United States in the Pacific Ocean. Along with the push for decolonization in the 1950s, a unification movement was begun among the islands. The Bering Sea Crisis escalated the talks for union, and talks began in 1960. In 1961, Tongans regained independence (ending the British protectorate), followed a year later by the independence of Samoa. Headed by Hawaii, the three nations finalized unification talks.
Under the agreement, the unified state would be a constitutional monarchy that was headed by the House of Kawānanakoa. Tongans reluctantly agreed to this in exchange that the Parliament would be held in the Tongan capital of Nukuʻalofa. The Parliament would be based on the British Westminster system, and would be democratically elected by the people. Samoa and Tonga pushed for a federation, which was eventually agreed upon by Hawaii. Under the agreement, a maritime fleet of ships and planes would be federally-operated and funded to ensure continued connection between the islands. The Act of Union was enacted in 1963, establishing the United Kingdom of Polynesia.
Throughout the remainder of the 1960s, other British colonies in the region held referenda on joining the union. Fiji and French Polynesia became the last colonies to join the union, though many Maori groups in New Zealand have show support for the admission of New Zealand (some have even suggested the separation of the Maori-dominated regions from New Zealand, but nothing has come of these proposals). In the late 1970s, Polynesia agreed to purchase the lowly populated Line and Phoenix Islands from Kiribati, and talks of a resettling program (similar to the failed Phoenix Islands Settlement Scheme).
Today, Polynesia is regarded as one of the most successful democracies in the world. Among the nations largest economic revenue is tourism.
- Fiji (Suva)
- Futuna (Mala'e)
- Hawaii (Honolulu)
- Kalikimaka (Tabwakea)
- Kiribati (Tarawa)
- Niue (Alofi)
- Nukuhiva (Nukuhiva)
- Paumotu (Mangareva)
- Raiatea (Uturoa)
- Rapanui (Hanga Roa)
- Rarotonga (Avarua)
- Samoa (Apia)
- Tahiti (Papeete)
- Tokelau (Fakaofo)
- Tonga (Nukuʻalofa)
- Tubuai (Tubuai)
- Tuvalu (Funafuti)
- Uvea (Mata-Utu)