Tahiti is the largest island in the Windward group of French Polynesia, located in the archipelago of Society Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. It is the economic, cultural and political centre of French Polynesia. The island was formed from volcanic activity and is high and mountainous with surrounding coral reefs. The population is 178,133 (2007 census), making it the most populous island of French Polynesia and accounting for 68.6% of the group's total population.
The capital, Papeete, is located on the northwest coast with the only international airport in the region, Faa'a International Airport, situated 5 km (3.11 mi) from the town centre. Tahiti was originally settled by Polynesians between AD 300 and 800. They comprise about 70% of the island's population with the rest made up of Europeans, Chinese and those of mixed heritage. The island was proclaimed a colony of France in 1880 although it wasn't until 1946 that the indigenous Tahitians were legally authorised to be French citizens. French is the only official language although the Tahitian language (Reo Tahiti) is widely spoken.---------------Papeete (pronounced [papeʔete]) is the capital of French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the Pacific Ocean. The commune (municipality) of Papeete is located on the island of Tahiti, in the administrative subdivision of the Windward Islands, of which Papeete is the administrative capital. The French High Commissioner also resides in Papeete. It is the primary center of Tahitian and French Polynesian public and private governmental, commercial, industrial and financial services, the hub of French Polynesian tourism and a commonly used Port of call. The Windward Islands are themselves part of the Society Islands. The name Papeete means "water from a basket".
The urban area of Papeete had a total population of 131,695 inhabitants at the August 2007 census, 26,017 of whom lived in the commune of Papeete proper.