History in Tahiti
Settled between AD 300 and 800 by Polynesians.
The first European sighting of the islands was by a Spanish ship in 1606. Samuel Wallis, an English sea captain, sighted Tahiti on 18 June, 1767, and is considered the first European visitor.
Wallis was followed in April 1768 by the French explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, completing the first French circumnavigation. Bougainville made Tahiti famous in Europe when he published Voyage autour du monde.
In April 1769 Captain James Cook visited the island. The population at this time was estimated to be 50,000 including all the nearby islands in the chain.The best-known landing off the time was by HMS Bounty, whose crew mutinied after leaving Tahiti in 1789.
Diseases introduced by the visits of Eurpeans killed so many Tahitians that by 1797, the population was only 16,000. Later it was to drop as low as 6,000.
In 1842, Admiral Dupetit Thouars, acting independently of the French government, convinced Tahiti's Queen Pomare IV to accept a French protectorate.
In 1946, Tahiti and the whole of French Polynesia became a French overseas territory. Tahitians were granted French citizenship In 2003, French Polynesia's status was changed to that of French overseas community.
French painter Paul Gauguin lived on Tahiti in the 1890s.
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