Situated in the South Pacific, French Polynesia is an overseas collectivity of the French Republic consisting of five island groups. These include the Austral, Gambier and Marquesas Islands as well as the Tuamotu Archipelago. The territory capital, Tahiti is located in the territory’s Society Islands. In 1984, the territory was granted self-government status and authorized to create distinctive emblems. French Polynesia adopted its flag on November 23, 1984. The design is based on the former Tahitian flag. In accordance with the law outlined in the French Constitution governing the overseas collectivity, the flag will be flown alongside the French Tricolore instead of beneath it as was customary before 1984. The flag of French Polynesia is permanently hoisted over local institutions, such as the Assembly and Presidency. It also flies over certain public buildings during official ceremonies.
The rectangular flag is 1.5 meters long and 1 meter wide. It features three horizontal stripes. Two red stripes, one at the top and another at the bottom, border a white strip centered in the flag. The ratio of the stripes is 1:2:1. A disc containing the coat of arms of French Polynesia adorns the center of the flag. The coat of arms depicts the scene of a Polynesian canoe sailing under a bright yellow sun. The red canoe occupies the upper center two-thirds of the disc whose lower half is an alternative pattern of horizontal blue and white waves. The top half of the disc features 10 golden rays emanating from the center. The canoe is depicted with a crew of five.
The Polynesian sailing canoe symbolizes the people, culture and history of Tahiti and her islands, which is the name used by locals when referring to French Polynesia. It serves as an attachment to ancestral values and as a guide to the future. Each crew member depicted inside the canoe represents one of the territory’s island groups. Red and white are the traditional colors of Polynesia. The golden rays symbolize life while the five rows of waves stand for the territory’s seafaring heritage. The symbols of the flag and coat of arms reflect the courage, solidarity and self-sacrifice of the people of French Polynesia.