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Puka Puka (Tuamotu and Gambier Islands, French Polynesia)

Last modified: 2016-11-23 by ivan sache
Keywords: puka puka |
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Flag of Puka Puka - Image by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 13 May 2016

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Presentation of Puka Puka

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

Puka Puka is located in the northeastern part of the Tuamotu Archipelago. This ring-shaped coral atoll and its nearly filled in lagoon cover an area of nearly 4 square kilometers.

Puka Puka was the first piece of land that Europeans discovered in the Pacific when Magellan sighted it in 1521. But he stayed only a few days, disappointed by the lack of drinking water and fruit. However, his crew could fish and could easily go hunting among the large colonies of birds that lived on the atoll. It was nearly a century before the next Europeans, Dutch explorers Le Maire and Schouten, visited Puka Puka in 1616. Upon finding three dogs along the coast, they figured the atoll had many dogs. That is why they named it Honden Eylandt, or Dog Island.

The atoll experienced its greatest economic and social upheaval at the beginning of the 20th Century. Part of the population of the neighboring atoll of Fakahina was brought to Puka Puka by Henri Bodin and R.P. Audran to exploit the atoll's humus and guano. Puka Puka became one of the best atolls in the Tuamotu Archipelago for copra due to its 35,000 coconut trees that had been planted. The atoll also attracted divers working for oyster and pearl dealers. An exodus among the people occurred between 1956 and 1977, reducing the population from 177 to 95 persons. But the 1996 census recorded a population of 175 persons.

Ivan Sache, 13 May 2016

Flag of Puka Puka

The flag of Puka Puka (photo, Tahitian Football Federation) is green with the name of the island written in white capital letters.

Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán & Ivan Sache, 13 May 2016