is the largest island in the Windward group of French Polynesia, located in the archipelago of the Society Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. It is the economic, cultural and political centre of French Polynesia. The island was formed from volcanic activity and is high and mountainous with surrounding coral reefs. The population is 178,133 (2007 census), making it the most populous island of French Polynesia and accounting for 68.6% of the group's total population.
Tahiti was formerly known as Otaheite.
The capital, Papeete, is located on the northwest coast with the only international airport in the region, Faa'a International Airport, situated 5 km (3.1 mi) from the town centre. Tahiti was originally settled by Polynesians between CE 300 and 800. They comprise about 70% of the island's population with the rest made up of Europeans, Chinese and those of mixed heritage. The island was proclaimed a colony of France in 1880 although it was not until 1946 that the indigenous Tahitians were legally authorised to be French citizens. French is the only official language although the Tahitian language (Reo Tahiti) is widely spoken. It was part of the
The island is 45 km (28 mi) across at its widest point and covers an area of 1,045 km2 (403 sq mi).
The highest peak is Mont Orohena (Mou'a 'Orohena) (2,241 m (7,352 ft)). Mount Ronui (Mou'a Rōnui) in the southeast rises to 1,332 m (4,370 ft). The island consists of two roughly round portions centred on volcanic mountains and connected by a short isthmus named after the small town of Taravao, situated there.
The northwestern portion is known as Tahiti Nui ("big Tahiti"), while the much smaller southeastern portion is known as Tahiti Iti ("small Tahiti") or Tai'arapū. Tahiti Nui is heavily populated along the coast, especially around the capital, Papeete.
The interior of Tahiti Nui is almost entirely uninhabited. Tahiti Iti has remained isolated, as its southeastern half (Te Pari) is accessible only to those travelling by boat or on foot. The rest of the island is encircled by a main road which cuts between the mountains and the sea.
An interior road climbs past dairy farms and citrus groves with panoramic views. Tahiti's landscape features lush rainforests and many streams, including the Papenoo River on the north side.