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Marquesas Islands

 Relief map of Marquesas Islands

The Marquesas are located 900 miles northeast of Tahiti.  They are fourteen relatively large, high islands, with a total land area of 1274 square miles.  They were French colonies that sided with the Free French after the fall of metropolitan France in 1940.

The Marquesas were heavily populated by Polynesians prior to the arrival of the first Europeans.  Smallpox and other diseases took a horrible toll, reducing a population estimated to be at least 100,000 to less than 5,000 persons. Even today, visitors to the islands can find numerous ghost villages and ruins.

The islands lie along a branch of the cold Peruvian Current, so that coral reefs are spotty and whales abundant.


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