Gambier Islands

The Gambier Islands are a group of islands in the western central Pacific Ocean comprising a territory of the French overseas department of Polynesia. Administratively, they form one commune of the near-equatorial Tuamotu Archipelago. The commune has an area of 377 square kilometres (145 square miles) and a population of 1,609.

Gambier Islands


The Gambier Islands were first sighted by Europeans on October 10, 1595, when Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña y Pizarro passed close to them during his voyage of discovery. French explorer Jacques Cartier put in at a small bay he named “Gambier” on November 11, 1598. He claimed the islands for France and settled there with 120 men, founding what was then known as Fort Saint Louis. Although Cartier frequented the islands for several years, he did not permanently claim them.


Gambier Islands Climate

The Gambier Islands have a tropical climate with little variation in temperature throughout the year. The islands are windy and hilly, making them relatively wet and rainy. The rainy season runs from November to April, which is particularly heavy. The driest months are June and July.

The Gambier Islands contain several lush valleys but only a few small lakes, most of the water being taken in through the rivers draining them: Salazie River near the harbor of Saint-Jean; its greater tributaries Reatapuiannaue (Saint Pierre) on Soufrière and Tamaratanosui (La Foa) on Mare (Mont Choisy). The two rivers join to form the Salazie Aenaonaue in the peninsula of Tiapo.


The Gambier Islanders have their own culture, customs and language. They are subsistence farmers who grow taro, sweet potatoes, coconut and other crops. They also hunt sea turtles and tapirs for meat. French is the official language of both Tuamotu Archipelago communes and 80 percent of native speakers are bilingual as well. Some authorities relate the term “Tuamotus” to an ancient Austronesian language or a Polynesian dialect; other scholars do not accept these theories.


The Gambier Islands are a French overseas territory. They have an elected president and a unicameral legislature. Their currency is the euro. The Gambier Islands are part of the Polynesian Melanesia subregion. With 11 islands and over 6,000 inhabitants, they form a separate administrative division (French commune) from French Polynesia’s Wallis archipelago province. Their population is about 25 percent Polynesians, 20 percent Austronesians and 50 per cent Melanesian.

Aside from the native Gambierese people, there are significant minorities of Guadeloupeans due to their part in shipwrecked voyages; Australian expatriates active in French cultural centers (such as schools or museums); Vietnamese escaping from war zones; Europeans working on cruise ships and tourists who visit for day-trips to see the islands’ white sand beaches and lagoons.

Government Services

are provided by a central government in Tahiti. The Gambier Islands have their own police force and tax system, as well as their own universities and hospitals. Education

Like their parent islands, the Gambier Islands are covered by all French entity’s direct school system: 3-year primary schools at age 6; and 4-year secondary education for those who complete high school. English is taught in select public schools (eg primary). Other programs of higher learning cover everything from law and medicine to construction management, architecture and astronomy.


The Gambier Islands are part of the French Republic. They have a president and a unicameral legislature. Their currency is the euro. The gambiers also have some autonomy in their own legislation, with laws passed by both the national parliament (the Assemblee Nationale) and communal assembly (le conseil communautaire) subject to review by France’s constitutional court, but not unilateral change or repeal by either organ without agreement.


The gambiers have long been a favored French tourist destination, with nearly 1 million visitors in 2009. Accommodation is available in resorts on the main islands as well as on smaller outlying isles. There are also equestrian and sailing facilities. The Gambier Islands have their own airport, located just off Pukapuka (looking from Rurutu island to the west). There is no longer a daily return ferry service between Tahiti and Papeete in French Polynesia.


The cuisine of the gambiers is based primarily on traditional French and Polynesian ingredients, foods such as fish (ocetes, maris) representing lomi-lori. German influence includes horsemeat sausages (“Camembert”), vegetables in beer sauce (“Choucroute”) and pork products like scrapple. The “boucan” grilled meat was introduced by Wawaeiwukamau Hiro, who moved from Tahiti in 1856 to do so.


The Gambier Islands have a rich fauna, including at least 49 species of land birds, 10 endemic subspecies, and three marine mammals—the marlin (Makaira maccoyi), the elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) and the New Zealand fur seal (Arctocephalus zygotes). The fauna includes 60 other species, including a few reptiles and 40 fish.

The birds include the superb bird-of-paradise, roseate spoonbill (Platalea regia) with unmistakable black spoonbills are also found in numbers on Rurutu Island; melodious chanting and Threatened sea lions have been recorded there as well as nesting for seabirds, including the Tuamotu motmot (also known locally as Ton-ton macaques) and southern royal albatrosses.


The Gambier Islands are one of the many uninhabited islands in the Indian Ocean. The archipelago consists of 12 islands and is located in the middle of the Mozambique Channel. The islands are administratively grouped into two communes, namely Nossob and Quirimbas. The Gambier Islands are a tourist destination for scuba diving, snorkelling, sunbathing, windsurfing and sailboarding.


1.What Is The History Of The Gambier Islands?

The Gambier Islands were first discovered by Europeans in 1519. The islands were claimed by France in 1768, and they became a part of the French overseas department in 1946. The commune was created on January 1st, 2004, from the merger of Nossob and Quirimbas communes.

2.How Big Are The Gambier Islands?

The Gambier Islands are made up of two small islands; Nossob which lies off the northwest corner, and Quirimbas lie on the southwest coast. The total area is:

The usual average size for each participant in a tourist dive trip to the Gambiers is around 25-35 kg (60-90 lbs), but due to strong currents you need at least 32 kg (70lbs).

3.When Did The Gambier Islands Become Part Of Morocco?

The last recorded historical information on Nossob date back to before the 16th century when Portuguese sailors visited it during their expeditions along Africa’s west coast; possibly exploring for gold mines which used elephants teeth as currency since silver was very scarce.

  1. What Is The Weather Like?

The two islands are practically surrounded by waterfalls and small, often uninhabited or ‘uninhabitable’ beaches where most dives can be done safely without a second diver present to assist you if needed (diving in these areas could potentially lead to death due to rockfall etc.

  1. Why Are They The Only Inhabited Islands Of Their Kind, Far Off Into The Waves?

Despite how unusual Nossob is and despite not being too close to land, there were many attempts by various countries over different centuries to exploit these incredibly rich seas with little success due in large part due to strong currents pushing them back ever further out towards sea before any ships could even get anywhere near them.

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