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PAPE‘ETE, French Polynesia (Nov. 6, 2002 - Oceania Flash)---French Polynesia is launching a major census operation this week, when some 400 officers will be dispatched throughout the French territory's islands, an area equivalent to that of Europe, the daily newspaper La Dépêche de Tahiti reported Tuesday.

The last census was done six years ago, and it found French Polynesia's population to be just under 220,000.

This year's census, which is being conducted by French Polynesia's statistics and economic studies offices, is expected to last for the whole of November and the first figures to be revealed early January.

"Population census is a major act in any citizen's democratic life, because we cannot have and manage ideas about our country's future if we don't know what population it consists of," statistics office ISPF Drector Bertrand Oddo told a press conference.

He said since the last census in 1996, there have been "many changes, many migrations, mny births, many deaths. Economic sectors too have changed. So we now need to take another picture and find out who makes the population, who are the decision-makers, political and social stakeholders" in French Polynesia.

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