Eiao ( marques. Eiao, old name: Hiau ( Krusenstern ), Knox ( Ingraham ), mass ( Marchand ), Roberts ( Hergest ), New York ( Fanning) ) is an uninhabited island in the northern group of the Marquesas in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. It belongs politically to French Polynesia.

Geography and Geology

Eiao is the rest of the crater rim of a long lost volcano, as can be seen clearly from the air to the crescent shape of the island. The igneous rocks have an age from 6.33 to 4.99 million years.

The 13 km long and 3.5 km wide island is traversed from northeast to southwest by a ridge, which rises to 576 meters above the sea level. The largest part of the island surface but consists of a sparsely vegetated plateau, the Tohuanui plateau on which the erosion damage are obvious.

The highly indented especially in the north coast is characterized by steep cliffs that rise directly from the sea and fall vertically in places more than 200 m. Access granted only lying to the north Vaituha Bay. A protective coral reef and coastal plain missing. Eiao has no permanently flowing surface waters. Although the island of the driest in the Marquesas counts - Eiao is too low to benefit from the moisture of the trade winds appreciably - form during heavy rain in many places torrential streams that empty into the bays and carry away the remains of fertile soils.

The closest island is only five kilometers away, also uninhabited Hatutu. The nearest inhabited island is Nuku Hiva, about 100 kilometers to the southeast.


By Europeans in the early 20th century exposed, now feral sheep, goats and pigs have done to the flora of the island devastating damage. In addition, you have - try to create coconut plantations - with little success. Therefore hardly get some of the original forest cover of the high plateau. The once dense mixed forest probably consisted of Pisonia, hibiscus, pandanus, Thespesia and large Ficus. Although the feral animals have now been greatly reduced, grow on the high plateau only small trees and shrubs in groups or isolated standing trees of Pisonia grandis and pandanus. The largest part of the plateau is either arid or covered with robust grasses. In the slightly more humid, for the animals difficult to reach crevices and ravines, have low-growing trees soap ( Sapindus saponaria ), Cordia subcordata, coral trees ( Erythrina variegata ) and Premna settled. The steep cliffs are only partially overgrown with grasses and Helitropen the genus Leptochloa.


About the fauna of the rarely visited Eiao very few publications, most of zoological research on the Marquesas clips from the species-poor island. 1929/30, examined a total of fifteen -month expedition of the Bernice P. Bishop Museum, the terrestrial fauna of the Marquesas Islands and also visited Eiao. The focus of the research was the invertebrates. Even then, the growth was largely destroyed, which should have had the effect the extinction of most of the altheimischen fauna.

Grasshoppers of the species Patanga pinchoti occurred in large numbers and two species of endemic cicadas have been found. From the Marquesas widespread weevils ( Curculionidae ) there were several ways. It is noteworthy that occur on Eiao which has only a few, small and seasonally dry falling water holes, also to the blackflies ( Simuliidae ) belonging, bloodsucking Nono flying, albeit in far smaller numbers than in the tropical humid Nukuhiva.

From Eiao only two endemic land bird species are known. The Eiao - spot Monarch ( Pomarea FLUXA ) was 1929/30, still observed, but is now extinct. The Eiao warbler (Acrocephalus mendanae aquilonis ) is extremely threatened or already extinct also.


Eiao was, as can be seen from numerous archaeological finds, not always uninhabited. Unlike the other islands of the Marqueasas the island, however, described as very warlike Tuametaki, a side line of a strain of the island Nukuhiva seems to have been inhabited in pre-European times by a single strain.

1929 visited the U.S. anthropologist Ralph Linton the island and carried out an archaeological exploration of the surface. He found significant traces of human settlement. In the Bay of Vaitahu it has apparently been in prehistoric times, a village, as was evident from remains of several residential platforms ( paepae ). More residential platforms and earth ovens found Linton on the northern part of the plateau. On the south side, he discovered - right on the cliff overlooking the sea - the remains of a cobbled Zeremonialplattform with a large, hollowed-out stone in the center.

Since 1987 the French archaeologist Michel Charleux busy with Eiao. During several excavation campaigns he has found everywhere on the plateau regular workshops for the manufacture of stone tools. The fine-grained, very hard basalt of Eiao was particularly suitable for the production of axes and Dexeln that exported the Polynesian Aboriginal latest findings to other, sometimes distant islands. Tools from the basalt of Eiao arrived in the 12th to 15th century AD up to 1,400 kilometers away on the island of Moorea and 2000 kilometers away Mangareva. Apparently trade across large and densely populated island Nukuhiva was settled.

During excavations in 2008 Charleux was carefully polished, bi-convex stone disks from 5 to 8 cm in diameter. They were like the game pieces for the very popular among the aborigines of Hawaii team game " ulu maika ," a sporting competition, which was reserved for members of the aristocracy. Since these stones have been found on any other archipelago of Polynesia, they could be taken as evidence for a direct sea in pre-European times between Eiao and over 4,000 km from the Hawaiian archipelago.

Discovered in 1791, the U.S. captain and long-distance traders Joseph Ingraham Eiao for the western world. He sailed on September 17, 1790 from his brigantine Hope of Boston, to a trade trip to Canton in China. In January 1791, he went on the already Alvaro de Mendaña de Neyra in 1595 discovered the southern group of the Marquesas on land. On April 19, 1791, he sailed from Hiva Oa in the direction north-northwest and saw on 21 April, the island Eiao that he baptized after coming from Boston General Henry Knox " Knox - Iceland ". However, Ingraham explored the island unspecified and did not go ashore.

Probably Eiao was already at that time uninhabited. Lieutenant Richard Hergest, the captain of the supply ship Daedalus the Vancouver expedition, landed a year later, in early April 1792, on Eiao, but was already no more residents before, only an abandoned hut and a burial ground. 25

Eiao was born on June 2, 1842 French protectorate, as Rear Admiral Abel Aubert Dupetit - Thouars took the islands of the northern group of the Marquesas in Taiohae on Nuku Hiva for France in possession.

The Law of 8 June 1850 the deportation of political prisoners were deported people to the Marquesas 1850-1854 who had committed " attacks " on the Emperor and the French State. On Eiao but there were only three convicts and only for a short time. 17

From 1962 to 1963, the French television journalist Georges de Caunes lived with his dog Eder in a self-selected Robinson Crusoe on Eiao and philosophized on the radio about his thoughts and experiences.

For the French nuclear tests on Mururoa and Fangataufa the military erected on more peripheral islands observation stations, including on Eiao. The remains of between 1996 and 1998 only temporarily manned military base "Sophie" are still on the Tuhuanui plateau.

Today, the island belongs politically to French Polynesia and is administered by the municipality of Nuku Hiva with. Since 1992 Eiao is a nature reserve and may be entered only with official permission.


West Coast Eiaos


Vaituha Bay, in the foreground erosion damage on the high plateau