French les Marquises, pair of volcanic clusters in French Polynesia in the central South Pacific, 740 mi (1,200 km) northeast of Tahiti. The southeastern group includes Hiva Oa (q.v.), largest and most populated and the burial place of the French artist Paul Gauguin; Fatu Hiva and Tahuata, each about 23 sq mi (60 sq km) and both rising to about 3,300 ft (1,005 m); and the uninhabited Motane and Fatu Huku. The northwestern group comprises the picturesque Nuku Hiva (q.v.), Ua Pu, Ua Huka, Eiao, and Hatutu. The southeastern islands were sighted in 1595 by the Spanish explorer lvaro de Mendaa de Neira, who named them for the Marquesa de Mendoza. Capt. James Cook visited Fatu Huku in 1774. In 1791 the American sea captain Joseph Ingraham sighted the northwestern group and named them Washington Islands. The whole group, annexed by the French in 1842, now forms a circonscription (administrative division) of French Polynesia, with headquarters at Hakapehi (Tai-o-hae) on Nuku Hiva. Because the islands lack coastal plains and coral reefs, habitation is largely restricted to the narrow valleys where streams run down from the mountains. Chief products are copra, taros, breadfruit, coffee, and vanilla. Most of the residents are Roman Catholic. Pop. (1981 est.) 6,100.
Meaning of MARQUESAS ISLANDS in English
Britannica English vocabulary. Английский словарь Британика. 2012