Marquesas Islands - Settlements

The form of island geography had a strong influence on the dispersal of aboriginal settlements. Before contact, the Population density was high, and most valleys were densely occupied, even in their upper reaches, by "tribal" groups ( mata'eina'a ) usually consisting of 200-800 people. In some cases these groups occupied more than one valley, or valleys were occupied by more than one mata'eina'a. Frequent warfare meant that territories changed, and dispossessed groups were often forced into marginal areas such as small arid Valleys and smaller islands. French administration has concentrated health services, schools, and employment in the towns of Taiohae, Nukuhiva, and Atuona, Hiva Oa, as well as in smaller centers on each of the other islands. Consequently, these valleys now have substantial populations, while other sites of formerly dense occupation are abandoned or sparsely inhabited. Contemporary settlements are usually clustered by the shore; churches and sports fields are prominent.

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