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Takume (left) and part of Raroia seen from the Space Shuttle, image courtesy of the Image Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center
Raroia: Happy Island of the South Seas by Bengt Danielsson, Ph.D.
Raroia or Raro-nuku is an atoll of the Tuamotus chain in French Polynesia, located 740 km northeast of Tahiti and 6 km (3.7 miles) southwest of Takume atoll. The oval-shaped atoll measures 43 km by 14 km with a population in 2007 census of 90. Raroians live principally on fishing, copra cultivation, and pearl farming.


The Twins

Raroia and Takume were called Napaite, "the Twins" (-ite, two), by the ancient Paumotu people.


In 1947, Thor Heyerdahl's Kon-Tiki raft arrived in Raroia after its 101-day journey from South America. Later, one of the crew members, Bengt Danielsson, Ph.D., studied the economy and the society and wrote a thesis "Work and Life on Raroia" (Uppsala, 1955) and a book "Raroia: Happy Island of the South Seas".


The languages spoken on the island are Pa'umotu and French. Pa'umotu is the local language, and French is taught in the elementary school in the island's village of Garumaoa. To attend secondary school the children go to the larger island Makemo. To attend university they can go to Tahiti, 465 miles away. The Raroians are, like most Polynesians, known for their hospitality, and although there are no available accommodations to rent on the island, locals will often share their lodgings with travelers. The Raroian diet consists mainly of local seafood, imported bread, rice and canned goods.

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