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Ua Pou (Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia)

Last modified: 2009-03-21 by ivan sache
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[Ua Pou flag]

Flag of Ua Pou - Image by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 24 December 2008

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Presentation of Ua Pou

Quoting the website of the Presidency of French Polynesia (page no longer online):

The island of Ua Pou is located 1,347 kilometers northeast of Tahiti at 9º25'S and 140º05'W. This diamond-shaped island is part of the northern group of Marquesas Islands. Ua Pou runs 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from north to south and 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from east to west, creating an area of 105 square kilometers (40.54 sq. miles).
Ua Pou has a central ridge running from north to south that reaches a height of 1,232 meters (4,042 ft.) at Mt. Potainui, also known as Oave Needle, the tallest of impressive volcanic basalt pinnacles that are like towers and spires.

At one time in its ancient past, Ua Pou was the home for 27 tribes, some of which shared the same valley, while at the same time remaining independent of each other. Since it was a difficult island to approach, Ua Pou's first western visitor did not arrive until 1791. But American Captain Joseph Ingraham was content to simply note the island's position on April 17, 1791, while French navigator Étienne Marchand became the first European to set foot on Ua Pou on June 21, 1791. He claimed possession of the island on behalf of King Louis XVI. But the island was rarely visited by foreigners due to its bad anchorages and its insufficient supplies of sandalwood, a raw material that was very much sought after in the early 19th century. The first Catholic missionaries also experienced difficulties in the beginning. Their lives were threatened on several occasions between 1840 and 1865. They were powerless to stop the tribal warfare as well as the increasing number of illnesses that ravaged the population, reducing it from 2,500 at the end of the 18th century to only 400 around 1885. On top of all that, human sacrifices did not stop until the last one occurred in 1863.
Since then, however, the island has recovered its economic and demographic vitality thanks to efforts made by the government. Ua Pou had a population of 2,013 in 1996, with 1,398 living in the village of Hakahau and 615 living in the village of Hakamaii. The island's main resources are copra, fishing, sculpturing, weaving and basket-making. Ua Pou is linked to the outside world thanks to its airport.

Ivan Sache, 20 August 2005

Flag of Ua Pou

The unofficial flag of Ua Pou, seen at the headquarters of the Tahitian Football Federation and used during the Games of the Marquesas Islands 2006, is red with a white frame and the name of the island in white letters in the middle.

Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 24 December 2008