Fakarava Atoll is located in the west of Tuamotu Islands group of French Polynesia. It is the 2nd largest of Tuamotu atolls. Toau Atoll is the nearest land. It lies 14 km (8.7 miles) to the northwest. Fakarava Atoll's area is 16 km2 (6 ml2) above water. Fakarava has around 860 inhabitants. Its main village is named Rotoava. Fakarava Atoll is the capital of Fakarava commune, which consists of Fakarava and the atolls of Kauehi, Aratika, Niau, Taiaro, Toau and Raraka.
The shape of Fakarava is roughly rectangular. The length of the atoll is 60 km (37 ml) and its width 21 km (13 ml). Fakarava Atoll features a wide and deep lagoon with surface area 1112 km2 (429 mi2) and two passes (access channels). The main one to enter the lagoon, situated in its north-western end, is Passe Garuae; it is the largest French Polynesian pass. The southern pass is Tumakohua (Tetamanu) and has a land area of 16 km2 (6 ml2).
Pomare Dynasty originated from Fakarava before ruling the Tahiti Island. Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen, Russian oceanic explorer, was the first recorded European to arrive to the atoll on July 17, 1820, with the ships Mirni and Vostok. He named the atoll "Wittgenstein". The inhabitants of Fakarava were evangelized by Honore Laval, French Picpus priest, in 1849. Fakarava is classified as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO.