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Competing with Spain, Portugal, the Dutch United Provinces and later England, France began to establish colonies in North America, the Caribbean and India in the 1600s. A series of wars with Great Britain and other European major powers during the 18th century and early 19th century resulted in France losing nearly all of its conquests. France rebuilt a new empire from 1850, concentrating chiefly in Africa, Indochina and the South Pacific. As it developed, the new empire took on roles of trade with France, supplying raw materials and purchasing manufactured items, as well as spreading French civilization, language and the Catholic religion.

The CFP Franc is the official currency of the French overseas collective of countries. The ISO 4127 currency code for the CFP Franc is XPF.

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The CFP franc, which is called the franc in everyday use, is the currency used in the French overseas collectivities of French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna. The initials CFP originally stood for Colonies Françaises du Pacifique (French colonies of the Pacific). This was later changed to Communauté Financière du Pacifique (Pacific Financial Community) and then to the present term, Change Franc Pacifique (Pacific Franc Exchange).

Today, all banknotes are strictly identical from New Caledonia to French Polynesia. One side of the banknotes shows landscapes or historical figures of French Polynesia, while the other side of the banknotes shows landscapes or historical figures of New Caledonia.