French Polynesia consists of 118 volcanic. Islands in the Society, Marquesas, Austral and Gambier Island groups tower out of the water, while the islands of the Tuamotu Islands group are atolls that have long since sunk below the ocean surface, leaving only the barrier reef. The total land area of the islands is equivalent to the total area of Europe. The remoteness of the islands of Polynesia kept the people insulated from the rest of the world until European world travel began in the 1700's. These days people come to French Polynesia to live it up in stylish resorts, scuba dive in lagoons teeming with tropical fish, gorge on the unique mix of French and Polynesian cuisine and, basically, experience a little French chic mixed with South Pacific charm.