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  • 6th century A.D. Polynesians arrive (estimated time).
  • 1595 Alvaro de Mendaña discovers the Marquesas Islands.
  • 1606 Pedro Fernández de Quirós sails through the Tuamotus.
  • 1765 Searching for terra australis incognita, Capt. John Byron on HMS Dolphin finds some Tuamotu islands, but misses Tahiti.
  • 1767 Also on HMS Dolphin, Capt. Samuel Wallis discovers Tahiti and claims it for King George III.
  • 1768 French Capt. Antoine de Bougainville discovers Tahiti.
  • 1769 Capt. James Cook arrives to observe the transit of Venus on the first of his three voyages of discovery.
  • 1788 HMS Bounty under Capt. William Bligh arrives and then takes breadfruit to the Caribbean.
  • 1789 Lt. Fletcher Christian leads the mutiny on the Bounty.
  • 1797 London Missionary Society emissaries arrive, looking for converts.
  • 1827 Queen Pomare IV succeeds to the throne.
  • 1837 Protestants deny French Catholic priests permission to land. Irate France demands full reparations.
  • 1838 Queen reluctantly signs ultimatum of French Adm. du Petit-Thouars.
  • 1841 French traders trick Tahitian chiefs into asking for French protection. They later disavow it.
  • 1842 Tahiti becomes a French protectorate. Herman Melville jumps ship, spends time in the Calaboosa Beretane (British jail). He later writes Omoo about his adventures.
  • 1844-48 Tahitians wage guerrilla war against the French.
  • 1847 Queen Pomare acquiesces to full French protection.
  • 1862 Irish adventurer William Stewart starts a cotton plantation at Atimaono.
  • 1865 The first 329 Chinese people arrive from Hong Kong to work Stewart's plantation, which fails. Most of the Chinese people stay.
  • 1872 Pierre Loti (Julien Viaud) spends several months on Tahiti. His The Marriage of Loti is published 8 years later.
  • 1877 Queen Pomare IV dies at age 64.
  • 1880 King Pomare V abdicates in return for pensions for him, his family, and mistress. Tahiti becomes a French colony.
  • 1888 Robert Louis Stevenson spends 2 months at Tautira, on Tahiti Iti.
  • 1891 "Fleeing from civilization," the painter Paul Gauguin arrives.
  • 1903 Paul Gauguin dies at Hiva Oa in the Marquesas. All of eastern Polynesia becomes one French colony.
  • 1914 Two German warships shell Papeete, sink the French navy's Zélée.
  • 1917 W. Somerset Maugham spends several months on Tahiti.
  • 1933 Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall publish Mutiny on the Bounty, an instant bestseller.
  • 1935 Clark Gable and Charles Laughton star in the movie Mutiny on the Bounty.
  • 1942 U.S. Marines build the territory's first airstrip on Bora Bora.
  • 1960 Tahiti-Faaa International Airport opens, turning Tahiti into a jet-set destination. Marlon Brando arrives to film a second movie version of Mutiny on the Bounty.
  • 1963 France chooses Mururoa as its nuclear testing site.
  • 1966 France explodes the first nuclear bomb aboveground at Mururoa.
  • 1973 Infamous Quinn's Bar closes and is replaced by a shopping center.
  • 1977 France grants limited self-rule to French Polynesia.
  • 1984 Local autonomy statute enacted by French parliament.
  • 1992 France halts nuclear testing, hurting local economy.
  • 1995 Conservative French Pres. Jacques Chirac permits six more underground nuclear explosions; antinuclear riots take place in Papeete; Japanese boycott Tahiti tourism.
  • 1996 France halts nuclear testing, signs Treaty of Rarotonga (declaring South Pacific to be nuclear-free), and tells French Polynesia to start earning its own way.
  • 1997 Spurred by economic restructuring funds from Paris, the first of several new hotels are built, and Papeete waterfront reconstruction begins.
  • 1999 Local officials propose increased autonomy from France.
  • 2001 Longtime pro-autonomy Gaston Flosse is reelected as president, continuing 20-year control of local government.
  • 2004 French Polynesia becomes an overseas "collective" of France with new legislative assembly. Pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru is elected president by a narrow margin, holds office for 4 months until no-confidence vote returns Flosse to power.
  • 2005 Special elections on Tahiti and Moorea return Temaru to the presidency. He calls for independence from France over 15- to 20-year period.
  • 2006 Votes of no confidence replace Temaru with Gaston Tong Sang, pro-autonomy mayor of Bora Bora.
  • 2007 French Polynesia becomes an "overseas community" of France.
  • 2008 Gaston Flosse is briefly returned to presidency in coalition with Temaru, who serves as assembly speaker, before Tong Sang is restored to power.
  • Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.