Country Description: French Polynesia (Tahiti) is a French Overseas Territory located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It is made up of several groups of tropical islands, the largest and most populated of which is Tahiti. French Polynesia's only international airport is located on Tahiti. Small commuter airplanes are the most widely-used type of transportation in the far-flung territory. French Polynesia has a moderately-developed economy, which is dependent on heavily-taxed imported goods, tourism, and the financial assistance of mainland France. Tourist facilities are available on the major islands.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: For information about entry requirements, travelers, particularly those planning to enter by sailing vessel, may wish to contact the French Embassy at 4101 Reservoir Road, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007, telephone (202) 944-6000.

Medical Facilities: Medical treatment is generally good on the major islands, but is limited in areas that are more remote or less populated. Emergency patients and those with serious illnesses are often referred to facilities on Tahiti for treatment. In Papeete, the capital of Tahiti, there are two major hospitals as well as several private clinics that provide 24-hour medical service. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services provided to patients who are not local residents. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide payment for medical services outside of the United States. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid overseas and health care, like most goods and services available in French Polynesia, is costly. Supplemental medical insurance which specifically covers treatment in French Polynesia and includes a provision for medical evacuation may prove useful. Information on health matters may also be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through its international travelers hotline at (404) 332-4559 or via the CDC home page on the Internet: http://www.cdc.gov.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police, and the nearest U.S. Embassy. Useful information on safeguarding valuables and protecting personal security is available in the Department of State Pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad". It can be obtained from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and do not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Road Safety: Traffic moves on the right in Tahiti. While most major roads are paved, many secondary roads are not. Traffic is brisk and all types of vehicles and pedestrians jockey for space on narrow streets. Tourists may wish to consider using extra caution when driving, particularly at night.

Registration/Embassy Location: There is no U.S. Embassy or diplomatic post on Tahiti nor on any of the other French Polynesian islands. Assistance for U.S. citizens is provided by the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji, which is located at 31 Loftus Street in the capital city of Suva. The telephone number is 679-314-466, the fax number is 679-300-081.

Americans are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji, and to obtain up-to-date information on travel and security in French Polynesia. Given the distance, the U.S. Embassy's availability to provide on-the-spot service is limited.

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