In 1843 the islands were made a French protectorate, then a colony in 1880. By 1958 the archipelago had become the overseas territory called French Polynesia.

French influence is everywhere. What look like a mailboxes outside most home are actually bread boxes awaiting delivery of the daily bread, the baguette, a cheap staple for any picnic. French language dominates, and visitors will have a better time if they learn basic phrases before arriving - through English is widely spoken.

French cuisine mixes with Polynesian and Asian cooking to make Tahiti and Her Islands a dining adventure. Fresh fish, tropical fruits, and vegetables are standard fare. Poisson cru, a local favorite dish, marinates fresh fish in lime juice and shredded coconut, served with a medley of vegetables. Tahitians also love a light vanilla sauce over fish such as parrot, mahi-mahi or ahi.

Equal in energy to any sport, Tahitian dance - tamure- may be agile and flowing or quick and rythmic, but always a priority event for visitors to see.

A relaxed friendliness is the prevailing social tone, and warm smiles greet the visitor everywhere.