Rapa

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Rapa or Oparo is an island in French Polynesia. It is sometimes called Rapa Iti to distinguish it from Rapa Nui (Easter Island).

History[change | change source]

The first European, who visited the island, was the captain George Vancouver. He visited the island in 1791. The island had an estimated population of about 2000 inhabitants. Four tribes inhabited the island. There were many tribal wars on the island.

The Rapan people were converted to Christianity in 1826, when six embassadors were sent from Tahiti. Soon after that some slaves were brought to Rapa. It caused an epidemy and in 1867 the island's population had declined to about 120. Since late 1800s, the island's population has steadily grown.

Geography[change | change source]

The main village of Rapa is Haurei. Nearly all inhabitants of Rapa are living in Haurei. The Bay of Haurei, which is on the western end of the island, is named after the village. The bay's original name was, however, "Oparo" or "Paro". Smaller villages include 'Area.

Rapa's nearest inhabited neighbor island is more than five hundred kilometers away. Together with Marotiri and some smaller islets, Rapa forms the Bass Islands. Marotiri is 46 miles away from Rapa.

To the southeast is the uninhabited islet Motu Tauturu.

Many mountains are in Rapa. The highest of them is Mt. Perau (650 m). Rapa has a land area of forty km².

Rapa is 1240 kilometers away from Tahiti, the main island of French Polynesia.

Demographics[change | change source]

Most inhabitants of Rapa are Polynesians. Polynesians are believed to inhabit the island in about 1000 BC.

Rapa has a population of 521 inhabitants (1996). Most of them are fishermen. The most spoken language of the island is Rapan. Most children and youth can also speak French.

Rapan is however an endangered language. It is sometimes considered to be a dialect of Tubuaian.

Culture[change | change source]

The most common form of Rapan folk music is himene tarava. The band The Tahitian Choir is from Rapa and its songs are sung in the Rapan language.