Mangareva, also known as the Gambier Islands, consists of four small volcanic islands located southeast of the Tuamotu Archipelago in French Polynesia at 22° S and 128° W. The islands have a land area of about 29 square kilometers. In 1987, 1,600 speakers of Mangarevan were reported living on the islands. Estimates of the population in the past range from a high of 8,000 at the time of first contact to a low of 1,275 in 1824. In recent years, as on many smaller Polynesian islands, there has been a notable out-migration to larger islands such as Tahiti and urban centers. Mangarevan is an Austronesian language closely related to the languages spoken on the Marquesas Islands. In the past and today, Mangarevans subsist on a combination of fishing and horticulture, with breadfruit, coconuts, taro, bananas, and sugarcane the most important crops.

See also Raroia


Buck, Peter H. (1938). Ethnology of Mangareva. Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin no. 157. Honolulu.

Sahlins, Marshall D. (1958). Social Stratification in Polynesia. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

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