Wallis and Futuna, officially the Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands (French: Wallis et Futuna or Territoire des îles Wallis et Futuna, Fakauvea and Fakafutuna: Uvea mo Futuna), is a French island collectivity in the South Pacific between Tuvalu to the northwest, Rotuma of Fiji to the west, the main part of Fiji to the southwest, Tonga to the southeast, Samoa to the east, the New Zealand-associated state of Tokelau to the northeast and to a more distant north the Phoenix Islands (Kiribati). Wallis and Futuna are not part of French Polynesia, nor even contiguous with it, as the former are located at the very opposite western end of Polynesia.
Although the Dutch and the British were the European discoverers of the islands in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was the French who were the first Europeans to settle in the territory, with the arrival of French missionaries in 1837, who converted the population to Roman Catholicism. Pierre Chanel, canonized as a saint in 1954, is a major patron of the island of Futuna and the region. The Wallis Islands are named after the British explorer, Samuel Wallis.
On 5 April 1842, the missionaries asked for the protection of France after the rebellion of a part of the local population. On 5 April 1887, the queen of Uvea (on the island of Wallis) signed a treaty officially establishing a French protectorate. The kings of Sigave and Alo on the islands of Futuna and Alofi also signed a treaty establishing a French protectorate on 16 February 1888. The islands were put under the authority of the French colony of New Caledonia.
In 1917, the three traditional kingdoms were annexed to France and turned into the Colony of Wallis and Futuna, which was still under the authority of the Colony of New Caledonia.
The capital of the collectivity is Matāʻutu on the island of Uvéa, the most populous of the Wallis Islands. As an overseas collectivity of France, it is governed under the French constitution of 28 September 1958, and has universal suffrage for those over 18 years of age. The French president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term; the high administrator is appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of the Interior; the presidents of the Territorial Government and the Territorial Assembly are elected by the members of the assembly.
The head of state is President François Hollande of France as represented by the Administrator-Superior Michel Jeanjean (since July 2010). The President of the Territorial Assembly is Sosefe Suve since 28 November 2012. The Council of the Territory consists of three kings (monarchs of the three pre-colonial kingdoms) and three members appointed by the high administrator on the advice of the Territorial Assembly.
Wallis and Futuna is located about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand, at 13°18′S 176°12′WCoordinates: 13°18′S 176°12′W, (225 mi west of Samoa and 300 mi (480 km) north-east of Fiji).
The territory includes the island of Uvéa (the most populous), the island of Futuna, the essentially uninhabited island of Alofi (the population of Alofi was reportedly eaten by the cannibal people of Futuna in one single raid in the 19th century), and 20 uninhabited islets, totaling 274 square kilometres (106 sq mi) with 129 kilometres (80 mi) of coastline. The highest point in the territory is Mont Puke (on the island of Futuna) at 524 metres (1,719 ft).
The islands have a hot, rainy season from November to April and a cool, dry season from May to October. The rains accumulate 2,500 to 3,000 millimetres (98–118 in) each year. The average humidity is 80% and the temperature 26.6 °C (79.9 °F).
The GDP of Wallis and Futuna in 2005 was 188 million US dollars at market exchange rates. The territory's economy is limited to traditional subsistence agriculture, with about 80% of the labor force earning its livelihood from agriculture (coconuts and vegetables), livestock (mostly pigs), and fishing. About 4% of the population is employed in government. Revenues come from French government subsidies, licensing of fishing rights to Japan and South Korea, import taxes, and remittances from expatriate workers in New Caledonia, French Polynesia and France. Industries include copra, handicrafts, fishing, and lumber. In 1991, BNP Nouvelle-Calédonie, a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, established a subsidiary, Banque de Wallis et Futuna, which currently is the only bank in the territory. Two years earlier Banque Indosuez had closed the branch at Mata-Utu that it had opened in 1977, leaving the territory without any bank.
The total population of the territory at the July 2008 census was 13,484 (68.4% on the island of Wallis, 31.6% on the island of Futuna), down from 14,944 at the July 2003 census. The vast majority of the population are of Polynesian ethnicity, with a small minority of Metropolitan French descent and/or native-born whites of French descent. More than 16,000 Wallisians and Futunians live as expatriates in New Caledonia, which is more than the total population of Wallis and Futuna. The overwhelming majority of the people in Wallis and Futuna are Catholic.
At the 2008 census, among the population whose age was 14 and older, 60.2% of people reported that the language they speak the most at home is Wallisian, 29.9% reported that the language they speak the most at home is Futunan, and 9.7% reported that the language they speak the most at home is French. On Wallis Island, the languages most spoken at home were Wallisian (86.1%), French (12.1%), and Futunan (1.5%). On Futuna, the languages most spoken at home were Futunan (94.9%), French (4.2%), and Wallisian (0.8%).
The culture of Wallis and Futuna is Polynesian, and is very similar to the cultures of its neighbouring nations Samoa and Tonga. The Wallisian and Futunan cultures share very similar components in language, dance, cuisine and modes of celebration.
Fishing and agriculture are the traditional practices and most people live in traditional fate houses in an oval shape made of thatch. Kava, as with many Polynesian islands, is a popular beverage brewed in the two islands, and is a traditional offering in rituals. Highly detailed tapa cloth art is a specialty of Wallis and Futuna.
Wallis and Futuna Tourist Attractions:
- Mata Utu
- Hihifo Airport