Scott M. Fitzpatrick
Tahiti is part of the Society Islands, a group of 11 major islands and numerous smaller islets in the South Pacific also commonly referred to as French Polynesia; these islands are included geographically as part of East Polynesia by archaeologists. Tahiti is one of the windward isles of the archipelago, along with Maiao, Me'etia, Mo'orea, and Tetiaroa; the leeward isles include Huahine, Maupiti, Porapora, Ra'iatea, Taha'a, and Tupai. Tahiti, a double volcano, is the largest island in the Societies, comprising roughly two thirds of the Societies' total land area of 1,600 km. The first human settlement of Tahiti may have occurred as early as 200 BC when settlers from Samoa and/or Tonga moved eastward; this chronology, however, based on dates from the Cook and Marquesas islands, has been disputed by some archaeologists. The earliest acceptable dates hover around AD 600, but because this would include a “long pause” of more ...