Infobox Island of French Polynesia
name = Eiao
France French Polynesia
South Pacific Ocean
area = 16.91 sq.mi.
peakheight = 1890 ft
population = 0
date_population = (2002)
density = 0
Eiao is the largest of the extreme northwestern
Marquesas Islands. It is located at coord|8|S|140.7|W|. The island was discovered in 1791 by the American navigator Joseph Ingraham, who named it "Knox Island" in honor of the then-current United States Secretary of War, Henry Knox. Other names given to the island by Western explorers include "Masse", "Fremantle", and "Robert".
Eiao is administratively part of the commune (municipality) of
Nuku-Hiva, itself in the administrative subdivision of the Marquesas Islands.
The center of the island is a high plateau, rising on the east side to 576 m (1,890 ft), much of which has been devastated by herds of
feral sheep. There is one good anchorage, on the west side of the island, at Vaituha.
In the late 19th century, the island was briefly used as a
leper colonyisland, although that enterprise was eventually abandoned because of the frequent droughts, and the difficulty of reliably landing supplies on the island. In the 1970s, the island was the site of extensive French militaryactivity, while it was being explored as a possible site for nuclear testing. The island and its surrounding rocks were declared the Eiao Island Nature Reservein 1992, as a first step toward protecting the ecosystem, as well as a number of endangered species, some of which are endemic. Previous to the creation of the reserve, the Eiao Monarchwent extinct.
European times, the bodies of chiefs from parts of Te I'iwere transported to Eiao for burial.
It was at one time home to a Marquesan tribe called the
Tuametaki. Stone tools, especially adzes, made from Eiao basalthave been found in archaeological sites on other islands, providing evidence for prehistoric interisland voyaging within the chain.
Marquesan Nature Reserves
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