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Countries Information & Lifestyle
 French Polynesia French Polynesia

Country Information & Lifestyle

 Your destiny was written here thousands of years ago

Your destiny was written here thousands of years ago

Tahiti, French Polynesia, is considered to be the most romantic place on Earth and is a remarkable blend of old and new with the people of the islands being a fusion of many races and cultures defining today's' Polynesian way of life.

The French Polynesians love to laugh and sing and they approach life with a joyous spirit Reju. Located only two and a half hours from Hawaii and yet a world apart with a tropical climate all year round cooled by the gentles breezes of the Pacific.

The languages are Tahitian, French and English and the earliest explorers thought they had found paradise on earth when they came across these picture-perfect islands, and today travellers are no less entranced by the volcanic mountain peaks, lush tropical vegetation, exotic flowering plants, coral reefs, warm waters, sandy beaches and stunning turquoise lagoons, add this to the hospitality of the friendly locals, the vibrant markets and you will come to believe that this is indeed the Garden of Eden.

Tahiti was ruled by the Pomare dynasty until 1880 when the islands became a French colony and in 1957 French Polynesia became a French overseas territory and has been internally autonomous since 1984.

The Society Islands consist of the Windward group of Tahiti, Moorea, Tetiaroa and the Leeward group is made up of Bora Bora, Huahine, Maupiti, Tahaa and Raiatea, with each island dominated by tall volcanic hills with rocky summits covered in luscious green undergrowth and surrounded by coral reefs which shelters a lagoon and exquisite white sand beaches.

The Tuamotutu atolls, Rangiroa, Tikehau and Manihi have long been acclaimed as the most beautiful of the South Pacific and each island is surprisingly different. In contrast to the dramatic peaks of the high islands, the low islands of the atolls are green rings of coral reef surrounding a turquoise lagoon.

Colours seem brighter here and the water is incredibly clear and the beautiful interior lagoons have one or two narrow openings to the ocean where the rushing tides provide nutrients for an exuberant coral and fish life with diving and snorkelling in these passes an amazing experience.

Local life on the atolls in the small villages, located near the pass, is simple and peaceful, and the visitor can discover the true flavor of life on the Tuamotus, often participating in the daily activities of the Paumotu people.

Tahiti, meaning "the gathering place", with her soaring mountains, sheltering deep valleys, plummeting waterfalls and crystal streams flowing down to the rugged coastline of black and white sand beaches and blue lagoons.

The island is actually two, Tahiti-Nui and Tahiti-Iti, joined by an isthmus with the capital Papeete having a laid back atmosphere and French flavor. Take a trip to the vibrant market, where, for more than 150 years, traders have touted a vast array of exotic foods, visit the attractive waterfront with its mobile diners and excellent restaurants, the tomb of the Pomare family, a lake containing unique eared eels, the lava tubes and a host of other experiences that make this a unique island so special.

The famous painter, Paul Gaugin, spent the last twelve years of his life on the island and there is a museum dedicated to his life and work. The main export is the cultured pearls, especially the black, and you will find them in the many pearl shops around the town.

You will be awestruck with the natural beauty of Moorea encircled by a lagoon of translucent green, fringed by an azure Polynesian sea with jagged peaks cloaked with lush greenery, this is everyone's' dream of Polynesia. The dramatic mountain interior is unique among the Society Islands and the magnificent expanses of white and black sand beaches rates among the worlds' finest.

Filled with history and lore Moorea is one of the most fascinating and completely relaxing places you could ever dream of. On a hilltop high in the interior between shark toothed Mount Rotui and the towering Mount Tohivea there is a view once reserved only for the Gods. One one side the exquisite Cooks Bay and the other the deep and equally entrancing Opunohu Bay, their arms waiting to embrace you. Which way do you go, there really is no choice, stay and go both ways and make the experience one you will never forget as the magic of Moorea engulfs you.

Mani hi, called the Pearl of Polynesia, is the island for people who dream of a deserted island with an abundance of palm trees, white sandy beaches, extraordinary scuba diving and snorkelling and a magnificent clear lagoon sheltering several pearl farms.

Tuck a tiare, the fragrant national flower, behind your ear, pack your paru, (sarong) and swimsuit, and head off to find your own idyllic piece of paradise which will doubtless have the melodic ancient name meaning something like "island of the long sky" or "place of the double rainbow", it is the place where dreams do come true.

Tikehau, Nature's Beauty, is a low tropical island lying 200 miles northeast of Tahiti in the Tuamotus, the largest collection of coral atolls in the world. A divers' dream with the underwater scenery some of the most spectacular ever seen.

The village of Tuheraherea, with only 350 people, is on the south end of the largest motu where you will find friendly smiles of the locals tending the small flower gardens of their well kept homes. The island has incredible snorkelling, pink sand beaches, sparking, turquoise water and peace.

Raiatea, the Sacred Island, is the second largest island in French Polynesia and 12 miles north west of Tahiti. The Tahitians believe it is the sacred birthplace of their Gods and their religious and cultural beginnings. It is from there that the first Polynesians set off to colonize new shores of Hawaii and New Zealand.

Ututor, the principal village, is the admin centre for the Leeward Society Islands and has been described as a sleepy waterfront town reminiscent of Papeete from years past. Fertile valleys, wide flatland farms and orchards, with several passes through the lagoon which encompass also the neighboring island of Tahaa.

A special mountainous island with the only navigable river in French Polynesia. Mount Temehani is supposed to be the birthplace of Oro one of the principal Gods of Polynesia and on the slopes one can glimpse the rare Tiare Apetahi, a flower found nowhere on earth.

Take a visit to the haunting site of Marae Taputapuatea, the best preserved and most sacred site of pre missionary Polynesia.

The sister island of Tahaa located across the lagoon two miles north of Ututota is often called the Vanilla Island for the numerous plantations of this black gold and the rich aroma of the vanilla perfumes the breeze as you travel around the island which is dotted with small villages, pretty beaches, coral gardens and sandy motus. 80% of all vanilla in French Polynesia is produced here while fishing and farming are the main livelihoods.

The volcanic Marquesa islands are spectacular mountains that plunge into the ocean reflecting every shade of blue and are made up of 9 major islands without a coral reef and a few islets. These remote island are located nearly 900 miles from Tahiti and have basic standards of modernisation from schools to rustic roads.

Full of tropical rains forests that lure you to stroll and swim undisturbed and colourful markets that offer an opportunity to mingle with local people, describes the beautiful and untouched Marquesas, where but beneath the civilised trappings a wild pulse still leaps from the streams and the fierceness of the old religion remains alive in the ruins and tikis half devoured by jungle.

Purchasing a Property

It is a rather difficult and complex process for a foreigner to buy land in French Polynesia. Although subject to much of the normal French law, French Polynesia has many local peculiarities.

The autonomy restricts the right to buy landed property to those residing in French Polynesia but how long they must reside is not yet clear but is likely to be between 5-10 years. Each foreign investment requires an authorization permit issued by a notary from the government of French Polynesia.

In most cases the government will approve this if the project is business related and creates good employment possibilities for locals, i.e. a large hotel or resort, smaller projects and private investments undergo a much more intense process. These projects are notoriously difficult to obtain the necessary authorization permits as it often seems each project is based on a different set of criteria.

Fees & Taxes

Costs paid by the buyer are between 12%-14% and costs paid by the seller 5.5%-11%.
Registration tax 9%-11% paid by the buyer
Notary's fees 3% inc VAT paid by the buyer
Estate Agents fees between 5%-10%. 10% VAT is payable by the seller.

Property tax,(impot foncier sur les proprietes baties). Buildings are subject to property tax at a flat rate of 10%. A deduction of 25% of the property's rental value is given to all owners, which means that the tax is effectively levied on 75% of the property's rental value.
Municipalities may levy 50% surtax on the property tax which makes the maximum effective tax rate at 15%. New buildings benefit from 5 years tax exemption.

Tax incentives - Special tax offsets are available for individuals tax resident in France and investing in the French overseas departments and territories including the Loi Gardin which concerns new or remodelled dwellings.
Loi Gardin - For individuals who live in the property as their main home for at least five years after purchasing or rent out for five years after purchase or invest in a company or society putting up buildings in the overseas departments and territories for rental for at least five years. The maximum incentive is 64% of the building costs.

Transactions Tax,(impot sur les transactions) are for property rentals of any description and are considered to be receipts and come under the Service Providers and Professionals heading of the Transactions Tax and, in terms of leasing property, this tax is levied on the gross rent and can be deducted from individuals tax payments. Over five years for an investment in a rental property, over ten years for buying one's principal home.

Capital gains earned from selling land or real estate is subject to the real property capital gains tax,(imp ot sur les plus-values). The taxable gain is the selling price less acquisition costs and related expenses. The first CFC20 millions(US$) are exempted from tax. The applicable tax depends on the holding of the property.

Visas

A valid passport is required for all nationalities. A visa is not required for stays of up to one month, if you stay between one and three months a visa is required.

Business travelers require a letter from an employer guaranteeing travel expenses.

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