island of French Polynesia, administratively part of the Tuamotu-Gambier administrative subdivision. It lies in the central South Pacific, 130 miles (210 km) northeast of Tahiti. Sighted by the Dutch navigator Jacob Roggeveen (1772), it is 5 miles (8 km) long by 3 miles (5 km) wide, with an area of 11 square miles (29 square km). An upraised coral island, it is geologically part of the Tuamotu Archipelago. It had large deposits of phosphate rock that were mined by British and French interests from 1908 until supplies were exhausted in 1966. As the coastal waters are deep, loading facilities had to be built at Temao, on the west coast. Pop. (2002) 93.
Learn more about Makatea with a free trial on Britannica.com.