Wallis and Futuna Islands
Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna, is a picturesque Polynesian French island territory in the South Pacific between Fiji and Samoa. The territory is split into two island groups, The Wallis Islands and the Hoorn Islands, lying about 160 miles apart. Since 2003 Wallis and Futuna has been a French overseas collectivity. Between 1961 and 2003, it had the status of a French overseas territory
Public domain photo courtesy Wikipedia
Island's History and Background
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. Wallis is named after the British explorer, Samuel Wallis.
On April 5, 1842, the missionaries asked for the protection of France after the rebellion of a part of the local population. On April 5, 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 February 16, 1888. The islands were put under the authority of the French colony of New Caledonia.
In 1917, the three traditional chiefdoms were annexed to France and turned into the Colony of Wallis and Futuna, still under the authority of the Colony of New Caledonia.
In 1959, the inhabitants of the islands voted to become a French overseas territory, effective in 1961, thus ending their subordination to New Caledonia.
In 2005, the 50th king, Tomasi Kulimoetoke II, faced being deposed after giving sanctuary to his grandson who was convicted of manslaughter. The king claimed his grandson should be judged by tribal law rather than by the French penal system. There were riots in the streets involving the king's supporters, who were victorious over attempts to replace the king. Two years later, Tomasi Kulimoetoke died on May 7, 2007. The state was in a six-month period of mourning. During this period, mentioning a successor was forbidden. On July 25, 2008, Kapiliele Faupala was installed as king despite protests from some of the royal clans.
Geography and Weather
Wallis and Futuna is located about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand. The territory includes the island of Wallis (the most populated), the island of Futuna, the 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 160 square miles, with 80 miles of coastline. The highest point in the territory is Mont Singavi (on the island of Futuna) at 2,510 feet.
The islands have a hot, rainy season from November to April and a cool, dry season from May to October. The rains accumulate 98-118 inches each year. The average humidity is 80% and the temperature 79.9 Â°F.
Permanent crops cover 20% of the land. Deforestation (only small portions of the original forests remain), largely as a result of the continued use of wood as the main fuel source, is a serious problem; as a consequence of cutting down the forests, the mountainous terrain of Futuna is particularly prone to erosion. There are no permanent settlements on Alofi because of the lack of natural fresh water resources.
Traditional Native Dance
Economy and Population
Industries include copra, handicrafts, fishing, and lumber. Agricultural products include breadfruit, yams, taro, bananas, pigs, and goats. In 2007, $63 million worth of commodities (foodstuffs, manufactured goods, transportation equipment, fuel, clothing) were imported, primarily from France, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand, and there were no exports (the previous year, in 2006, exports amounted to $122,000 and consisted entirely of 19 tons of trochus shells
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.
Books on the Wallis and Futuna Islands
Photos and image courtesy Wikimedia and Creative Commons