Tahiti and her islands is a young country in full evolution, especially since the end of French nuclear experiments in the South Pacific. A page has been turned and today tourism and products from the sea (black pearls, fish, etc.) are taking the relay to ensure a viable economy to our country. The Government's main concern is to make jobs available for its growing population (55% of the people is under 20). Thus, tourism benefits from financial aids for sustainable development on solid bases. Deep sea fishing has also expanded and represents a great hope for the population as the riches of the sea have been little exploited until now. Other resources, such as aquaculture and agricultural activities are also experiencing a similar growth in activity. The black pearl industry brings promising medium term windfalls for the countrty. There are still many areas to be developed and the first decade of the new millenium is generating a serene attitude when it comes to the future of the country.
Since 1984, French Polynesia benefits from a status of Internal Autonomy. This special status grants it rights and prerogatives that other French Overseas Territories do not have, thus sharing legal authority between the French Governement and the Territorial Government. France keeps the authority in the area of foreign affairs, national defense, justice and the mint. French Polynesia has its own Government, a Representative Assembly and an Economic and Social Council. It is freely administered by its elected officials according to the anglo-saxon principle of self government. The Territorial Government is lead by a President, elected by the Assembly and a Council of Ministers named by the President. The Assembly is is composed of 49 Councilmen, representing the five Archipelogos and elected directly by the people for a period of five years. The Assembly examines the bills submitted by the Government in the form of drafts. It votes the budget and approves the Territory's finances. The French Government is represented by a High Commissioner of the Republic in charge of protecting the national interest, enforcing the laws, keeping public order and adminsitrative control.
Tourism has become again the spear-head of Polynesian economy in the past few years. Today the Polynesian Government has taken charge to restructure the tourism organization. The creation of new hotels and family-owned guest houses as well as vacation rentals made it possible to not only increase tourism potential, but also to give jobs to many people in the islands. Cruise ships, such as the Paul Gauguin, made it possible for many tourists to discover Polynesia each year. Thus, many efforts have been made in this area and French Polynesia can claim today that it is on the upturn of a sustainable and measured tourism development. Small hotels and vacation rentals are mainly at the center of this revival to satisfy tourists who are more looking for contacts with the inhabitants, a great opportunity for exchanges and to take time to better soak up the local culture.
Fishing and Aquaculture
The maritime domain of French Polynesia is one of the world's largest and covers over 4.5 millions Km2, but its resources are just starting to be exploited with the launching of medium size fishing units. Small scale fishing developed slowly to move today toward semi-industrial fishing. Some bonito tuna boats (small boats between 16 and 25m long) ensure deep sea fishing of bonito and tuna fish. New boats built domestically, are involved in wide campaigns dedicated to exportation. Lagoon fishing is still practiced aboard the family canoe and with fish traps. Processing industries have appeared in the past fifteen years to process smoked swordfish and tuna.
Over a thousand pearl farms have been created in less than 20 years. The majority of the production goes through Tahiti before reaching the jewelry stores of International markets. New measures have been taken to better structure production and prevent black pearl's prices from falling. More
French Polynesia can claim that it offers one of the most beautiful collections for a stamp collector to own. Several times a year, the Post Office issues many colorful stamps on First Day envelopes and others. Fauna, flora and, of course, local traditions and culture are at the center of themes imposed by the Collector's Stamps Department. Intense activity characterizes this department of the Post Office. To discover this stamp collector's treasures before coming to French Polynesia, pay a visit to www.tahitiphilatelie.pf which with each new stamp or phone card issue, offers a leaflet describing the details of such issue.