Tokelau is a territory of New Zealand in the South Pacific Ocean that consists of three tropical coral atolls (from the northwest Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo) with a combined land area of 10 km2 (4 sq mi) and a population of approximately 1,400. Its capital rotates yearly between the three atolls. Tokelau lies north of the Samoan Islands, Swains Island being the nearest, east of Tuvalu, south of the Phoenix Islands, southwest of the more distant Line Islands, and northwest of the Cook Islands.
Archaeological evidence indicates that the atolls of Tokelau — Atafu, Nukunonu, and Fakaofo — were settled about 1,000 years ago and may have been a "nexus" into Eastern Polynesia. Inhabitants followed Polynesian mythology with the local god Tui Tokelau; and developed forms of music (see Music of Tokelau) and art. The three atolls functioned largely independently while maintaining social and linguistic cohesion. Tokelauan society was governed by chiefly clans, and there were occasional inter-atoll skirmishes and wars as well as inter-marriage. Fakaofo, the "chiefly island", held some dominance over Atafu and Nukunonu after the dispersal of Atafu. Life on the atolls was subsistence-based, with reliance on fish and coconut.
Tokelau includes three atolls in the South Pacific Ocean between longitudes 171° and 173° W and between latitudes 8° and 10° S, about midway between Hawaii and New Zealand. They lie about 500 km (311 mi) north of Samoa. The atolls are Atafu, Nukunonu, both in a group of islands once called the Duke of Clarence Group, and Fakaofo, once Bowditch Island. Their combined land area is 10.8 km2 (4 sq mi). There are no ports or harbours. Tokelau lies in the Pacific tropical cyclone belt. A fourth island that is culturally, historically, and geographically, but not politically, part of the Tokelau chain is Swains Island (Olohega), under United States control since about 1900 and administered as part of American Samoa since 1925.
According to the US Central Intelligence Agency's list of countries by GDP (PPP) Tokelau has the smallest economy of any country in the world. Tokelau has an annual purchasing power of about US$1,000 (€674) per capita. The government is almost entirely dependent on subsidies from New Zealand. It has annual revenues of less than US$500,000 (€336,995) against expenditures of some US$2.8 million (€1.9 million). The deficit is made up by aid from New Zealand.
Tokelau annually exports around US$100,000 (€67,000) of stamps, copra and woven and carved handicrafts and imports over US$300,000 (€202,000) of foodstuffs, building materials, and fuel to, and from, New Zealand. New Zealand also pays directly for the cost of medical and education services. Local industries include small-scale enterprises for copra production, wood work, plaited craft goods, stamps, coins, and fishing. Agriculture and livestock produces coconuts, copra, breadfruit, papayas, bananas, figs, pigs, poultry and a few goats. Many Tokelauans live in New Zealand and support their families in Tokelau through remittances.
Tokelau Places to Visit
- Swains Island