History of Tahiti

Tahiti has an interesting and colourful history, similar to that of many of the South Pacific Islands. Polynesians are thought to have migrated to Tahiti from southeast Asia between 2000 and 1000AD. During the 18th century, the islands were visited by early explorers including Bougainville, Wallis, Vancouver and Captain Cook. Before Europeans arrived, the islands of Tahiti were divided into districts ruled by chiefs. In 1880, the islands became a French Colony and in 1957, they were declared a French Overseas Territory.

Historic Sites
There are many historic sites scattered around the islands that are important to the history of Tahiti. The oldest sites are generally of a religious or sacred nature. In French Polynesia, the remains of ancient marae (sacred sites) have been found throughout the Society, Austral and Marquesa groups. These massive, open-air stone temples had alters, platforms and paved walks, and were often tapu (forbidden) to all but nobility and priests.

On the island of Bora Bora, Marae Marotetini, restored in 1968, was once the most important temple on the island. Nearby is a pair of tombs built for the island's royal family during the 19th century. The tall, thumb-shaped obelisk of Marae Taharuu is one of the more unusual marae stones in French Polynesia. From its elevated vantage point, visitors can enjoy magnificent views across Bora Bora.

On the neighbouring island of Moorea, the Opunohu Valley contains stone temples and archery platforms used by Polynesian royalty in pre-Christian days, when archery was a sacred sport. Visitors can also stop at the historic octagonal church located in the village of Papetoai. Established in 1822, it's the oldest European building in use in the South Pacific.

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