Island group (pop., 1996: 8,064), French Polynesia .
Located in the central South Pacific Ocean northeast of Tahiti, the Marquesas comprise 10 islands. The southeastern group includes Hiva Oa, the largest and most populous island and the burial place of artist Paul Gauguin ; Fatu Hiva and Tahuata; and the uninhabited Motane and Fatu Huku. The northwestern group comprises Nuku Hiva, Ua Pu, Ua Huka, Eiao, and Hatutu. The Spanish explorer Àlvaro de Mendaña de Neira named the islands for the marquesa de Mendoza in 1595. Annexed by France in 1842, the Marquesas form an administrative division of French Polynesia with headquarters at Taiohae on Nuku Hiva.