(Polynésie française, Pōrīnetia Farāni)
French Polynesia Flag
French Polynesia Map
Location: South Pacific
Total Area: 4,170 sq km
Currency: CFP franc
Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: 6.9 liters
The most popular drink: On the island of Tahiti, one can imbibe something simply called ‘Tahiti Drink” which is sold in gallon cartons like milk. This is a fruit-rum punch which packs a punch. Many visitors are unaware at how much alcohol is in this seductively sweet concoction and make the mistake of overdoing it, and end up taking a five hour nap on the beach in a hammock.
French Polynesia is actually made up of 118 islands, the most famous being Tahiti and Bora Bora. The islands of French Polynesia have been said to be some of the most beautiful in the world. And nowhere else will you find the turquoise lagoons and spectacular coral reefs that are common in the region. Almost 61% of the total population lives on the island of Tahiti, in and around the capital city of Papeete. Only a few months out of the year are hot and humid, the rest of the time the islands are cooled by trade winds making the weather ideal for exploring the glory that is French Polynesia.
Roughly 78% of the people are Polynesian, and of this group, most have European or Asian ancestry. About 12% are French and 10% are Chinese. A very attractive group of people, Polynesians are known for their hospitality, friendliness and easy going nature. Dancing is an ancient form of expression in Polynesian culture, especially on the island of Tahiti. There, young men and women perform a Tahitian Tamure, wearing brightly colored costumes and dancing provocatively to the beat of mighty drums.
French Polynesia is a world-renown tourist destination, and because of this, high end restaurants have made their delicious mark on many islands, especially Tahiti. With wonderful ingredients such as exotic fruits, fresh fish and local vegetables prepared in a classic French style, it’s no wonder visitors do little else but eat and lay on the beach. But if you really want to experience traditional Tahitian food, you need to search out a local celebration, or go to the beach on a Sunday morning where you will no doubt find the village men preparing the underground ovens. In these ovens fish, chicken, pork and vegetables, which have been wrapped in coconut leaves, are placed on hot lava rocks and covered with earth and left to cook. You have never tasted meat like it, I promise you.
You can’t lie on the pure white sand of a beautiful Tahitian beach without sipping a perfectly-refreshing cocktail. The two simply go hand in hand. Drinking is a sort of past time in French Polynesia, both for the locals and visitors. Beer and wine is actually quite expensive on the islands, and visitors would be wise to buy liquor at the duty free shop at the airport before arrival. Tahiti does have its own drink called, well, Tahiti Drink. It’s a fruit-rum punch that is affordable and delicious. A word to the wise, a little goes a long way. Don’t let the sweetness fool you, there is a quite a bit of rum in this local drink.
The biggest, most popular festival in all of French Polynesia is the Heiva i Tahiti. It is a month-long festival celebrated in Papeete, the capital city, and represents Tahiti at its best, featuring traditional sports, parades, traditional dance and even a Mr and Miss Tahiti contest. It’s more than just a festival though; Heiva i Tahiti has become the symbol of French Polynesian culture and a prestigious event for the people so proud of their heritage.
Story By World By Shotglass
©2013 World By Shotglass. All Rights Reserved
Special thanks to our contributors:
Adebayo Ahmed Adebola (Ilorin, Nigeria).
Jenna Bruce, Fairlee, VT
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