Introducing The Tuamotus
Strung like white-sand jewels across the Pacific, the Tuamotus (too-ah-moh-toos) are a world apart. These rings of coral are the posthumous witnesses to what was once, according to Darwin's theory of atoll formation, an archipelago of high islands as mountainous and grand as perhaps the Marquesas or Society Islands are today. The 77 atolls, scattered like confetti on an ocean of ink, stretch 1500km northwest to southeast and 500km east to west. The closest islands are about 300km from Tahiti.
The Tuamotus have always been a dangerous place for navigators and they long remained in the shadow of the Society Islands. That has changed thanks to pearl cultivation, which has become a central pillar of the Polynesian economy. The growth of pearl cultivation has reversed the outward migration of the population, which has grown from 11, 793 to 15, 846 people since 1983. There are 45 inhabited islands, ranging from those with a mere handful of transient occupants to Rangiroa, with a total population of 3016. With this economic development and increase in population, infrastructure has been dramatically improved.