A collection of some 130 islands in five archipelagos, spread out in an area of two million km2 (772,200 sq. miles) of the Pacific Ocean. It was governed as a French colony from 1903, but in 1945 its inhabitants acquired French citizenship. As overseas territories (territories d'outre‐mer) from 1959 they were given limited autonomy, which was extended in 1977 and 1984. From 1963, it acquired a central importance for the French nuclear‐testing programme, which has subsequently been carried out underground at the island of Mururoa. Despite riots sparked off by the renewed tests ordered by Chirac in 1995, the majority of the islands have repeatedly rejected independence, as French financial assistance and military spending have ensured a standard of living for the islanders which is almost double that of some of their Polynesian neighbours.French Empire
Subjects: Social Sciences — Contemporary History (Post 1945).