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Rapa or Rapa Iti (Little Rapa) as it is sometimes called in more recent years (to distinguish it from "Rapa Nui" (Big Rapa), a name for Easter Islandmarker), is the largest and only inhabited island of the Bass Islands in French Polynesiamarker. An older name for the island is Oparo[112569] Rapa Iti is located at . It is shaped roughly like a Greek final sigma (ς), with a well-protected central bay, surrounded by a ring of high mountains. The whole island appears very much to be the peak of a sinking volcano, with the bay as the caldera. The area of the island is .

Its main town, often spelled on maps as Ahurei but pronounced by residents as Ha'urei (where ' denotes a glottal stop) is located on the south side of that bay. The people are Polynesian. In former times warfare is indicated by the 28 ridgetop forts. Today Rapa is home to the Tahitian Choir, in which a third of the island's population sing traditional songs.

Although sometimes considered part of the Austral Islandsmarker, the Bass Islands have a different geological, linguistic and cultural history. A description of the culture of Rapa is found in Rapan Lifeways (1970), by F. Allan Hanson.

Rapa was first discovered by Europeans in 1791 by George Vancouver, who named the island Oparo. Numerous ancient ruins ("pa" or "pare", a type of fort) are found on the island, particularly on peaks and clifftops. Thor Heyerdahl, notably, made excavations here, seeking links between the two Rapas.
Île Rapa


Administration

The commune of Rapa consists of the islands of Rapa Iti and the four uninhabited Marotiri rocks.

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