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Group of islands (pop., 2002: 6,386), southern French Polynesia. The southernmost part of French Polynesia (austral is Latin for south), the islands form a chain about 800 mi (1,300 km) long. They were sighted by Capt. James Cook in 1769 and 1777. They were taken over by the French in the late 19th century. The inhabited islands are Rimatara, Rurutu, Tubuai, Raevavae, and Rapa.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Austral Islands, visit Britannica.com.