French Oceania, which is now known as French Polynesia, is a French Overseas Collectivity consisting of 118 islands. The group of islands is dispersed over a stretch of over 2,000 kilometers in the South Pacific Ocean. It comprised the Gambier, Society, Marqueses, Tubuai Islands, Tuamotu archipelago, and Tahiti as its capital.
Since France established a military base in the region in 1962, French Oceania has switched from an economy that relies heavily on agriculture to one that supports the military and the tourism industry. However, the military contribution to the territory’s GDP plummeted when the French nuclear testing halted in 1996. On the other hand, tourism accounts for nearly 25% of GDP and is the main source of French Oceania’s hard currency.
The territory also benefits from pearl farming, deep-sea fishing, and the manufacturing of agricultural commodities. Additionally, French Oceania gains from development agreements with France that are geared toward building new enterprises and nourishing social services.
Like other French overseas collectivities, French Oceania/French Polynesia uses the Central Pacific Franc as its official currency. On March 9, 1880, the Colonial Treasury issued paper bills in denominations of 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500 francs. These banknotes bear unified designs and share the same size of 120 x 74 mm. Their obverse features an allegorical woman that personifies Agriculture holding a sickle, a man that signifies Commerce holding a caduceus, cherubs with cornucopia, columns with vases, and palm fronds. Their back design depicts an anchor, cornucopia, and effigies of a man and a woman.
Towards the close of the 1800s, when the mainstay of the economy was agriculture, the Agriculture Department of Tahiti was given the right to issue paper bills. These uniface notes were framed with letter patterns and were in the same size of 170 x 85 mm. When the Bank of Indo-China was founded on January 21, 1875, it became responsible for issuing banknotes for French Oceania with designs identical to that notes issued for other French colonies.