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Location of the two Bass islands to the southeast of the Austral group.

The Bass Islands (French: Îles (de) Bass or Îlots (de) Bass) consist primarily of Rapa Iti (27°35′00″S 144°20′00″W / 27.58333°S 144.33333°W / -27.58333; -144.33333) and Marotiri (27°55′00″S 143°26′00″W / 27.91667°S 143.43333°W / -27.91667; -143.43333). They are usually considered to be the southernmost of the Austral Islands, although this classification is more one of geographic and political expediency than because of similarities between them and the rest of the Austral Islands. The Bass Islands, lying several degrees outside the tropics, are the southernmost islands in French Polynesia.

Geologically, the Bass Islands are distinguished from the Austral Islands in that their vulcanism appears to be much more recent.

Culturally, the Bass Islands appear to have been colonized about the same time as Tahiti and the Marquesas, and the culture and language (Rapan) appear to have diverged about the same time as well, indicating that they developed in relative isolation almost from the time of first settlement.

Rapa, sometimes called Rapa Iti (Little Rapa, to distinguish it from "Rapa Nui" (Big Rapa), a name for Easter Island), is the largest and only inhabited island of the Bass Islands. An older name for the island is Oparo.[1] Its area is 38.5 km2 with a population of 530 and a max elevation of 650 m. Its main town is Ahuréi.

Marotiri is a group of four uninhabited volcanic rocks protruding from the sea (and several submerged rocks), forming the southeastern end of the Austral Islands of French Polynesia. Marotiri is also known as Bass Rocks (Îlots de Bass in French),[2] maybe according to the name of the European explorer George Bass. Marotiri is very isolated,[3] located at 27°55′00″S 143°26′00″W / 27.91667°S 143.43333°W / -27.91667; -143.43333, about 725 miles (1,167 km) west-south-westward of Pitcairn Island.[4] The closest island is Rapa Iti, 75 km further northwest, but separated from it by an ocean depth of more than 1,500 meters.[5] The rocks are part of the municipality of Rapa and uninhabitable by people. They form an important bird sanctuary.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Tahiti guide
  2. ^ According to the French hydrographic office (SHOM) nautical charts 6607 and 4232.
  3. ^ International Association of Biological Oceanographers. Committee on Coral Reefs (1985). Proceedings of the Fifth International Coral Reef Congress: Symposia and seminars (B). Antenne Museum--EPHE. p. 90. ISBN 978-2-905630-03-2. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  4. ^ Pacific islands pilot. Sold by J.D. Potter. 1969. p. 61. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  5. ^ According to the French hydrographic office (SHOM) nautical charts 6607, there is a depth of 1,646 meters midway between Rapa and Marotiri.