Wallis and Futuna

Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna [wô′lis]
French overseas territory in the South Pacific, northeast of the Fiji Islands: it consists of two groups of islands (Wallis Islands and Futuna Islands): c. 106 sq mi (275 sq km); pop. 14,000

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Wallis and Futuna

Introduction Wallis and Futuna
Background: Although discovered by the Dutch and the British in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was the French who declared a protectorate over the islands in 1842. In 1959, the inhabitants of the islands voted to become a French overseas territory. Geography Wallis and Futuna -
Location: Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand
Geographic coordinates: 13 18 S, 176 12 W
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 274 sq km note: includes Ile Uvea (Wallis Island), Ile Futuna (Futuna Island), Ile Alofi, and 20 islets water: 0 sq km land: 274 sq km
Area - comparative: 1.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 129 km
Maritime claims: exclusive economic zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate: tropical; hot, rainy season (November to April); cool, dry season (May to October); rains 2,500-3,000 mm per year (80% humidity); average temperature 26.6 degrees C
Terrain: volcanic origin; low hills
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m highest point: Mont Singavi 765 m
Natural resources: NEGL
Land use: arable land: 5% permanent crops: 20% other: 75% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: NA sq km
Natural hazards: NA Environment - current issues: deforestation (only small portions of the original forests remain) largely as a result of the continued use of wood as the main fuel source; 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
Geography - note: both island groups have fringing reefs People Wallis and Futuna
Population: 15,585 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: NA% 15-64 years: NA% 65 years and over: NA%
Population growth rate: NA (2002 est.)
Birth rate: NA births/1,000 population
Death rate: NA deaths/1,000 population
Net migration rate: NA migrant(s)/1,000 population
Infant mortality rate: NA deaths/1,000 live births Life expectancy at birth: total population: NA years male: NA years female: NA years
Total fertility rate: NA children born/woman HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA% HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Wallisian(s), Futunan(s), or Wallis and Futuna Islanders adjective: Wallisian, Futunan, or Wallis and Futuna Islander
Ethnic groups: Polynesian
Religions: Roman Catholic 100%
Languages: French, Wallisian (indigenous Polynesian language)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 50% male: 50% female: 50% (1969 est.) Government Wallis and Futuna
Country name: conventional long form: Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands conventional short form: Wallis and Futuna local short form: Wallis et Futuna local long form: Territoire des Iles Wallis et Futuna
Dependency status: overseas territory of France
Government type: NA
Capital: Mata-Utu (on Ile Uvea) Administrative divisions: none (overseas territory of France); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are three kingdoms at the second order named Alo, Sigave, Wallis
Independence: none (overseas territory of France)
National holiday: Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
Constitution: 28 September 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system: French legal system
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Jacques CHIRAC of France (since 17 May 1995), represented by High Administrator Alain WAQUET (since 12 July 2000) elections: French president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; high administrator 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 note: there are three traditional kings with limited powers head of government: President of the Territorial Assembly Patalione KANIMOA (since NA January 2001) cabinet: Council of the Territory consists of three kings and three members appointed by the high administrator on the advice of the Territorial Assembly
Legislative branch: unicameral Territorial Assembly or Assemblee Territoriale (20 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) elections: last held 16 March 1997 (next to be held NA May-NA June 2002) note: Wallis and Futuna elects one senator to the French Senate and one deputy to the French National Assembly; French Senate - elections last held 27 September 1998 (next to be held by NA September 2007); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats - RPR 1; French National Assembly - elections last held 25 May-1 June 1997 (next to be held by NA 2002); results - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats - RPR 1 election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - RPR 14, other 6
Judicial branch: none; justice generally administered under French law by the high administrator, but the three traditional kings administer customary law and there is a magistrate in Mata-Utu Political parties and leaders: Lua Kae Tahi (Giscardians) [leader NA]; Mouvement des Radicaux de Gauche or MRG [leader NA]; Rally for the Republic or RPR [Clovis LOGOLOGOFOLAU]; Taumu'a Lelei [Soane Muni UHILA]; Union Populaire Locale or UPL [Falakiko GATA]; Union Pour la Democratie Francaise or UDF [leader NA] Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization FZ, SPC
participation: Diplomatic representation in the US: none (overseas territory of France) Diplomatic representation from the none (overseas territory of France)
Flag description: a large white modified Maltese cross centered on a red background; the flag of France outlined in white on two sides is in the upper hoist quadrant; the flag of France is used for official occasions Economy Wallis and Futuna -
Economy - overview: The economy is limited to traditional subsistence agriculture, with about 80% labor force earnings 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.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $30 million (1997 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: NA%
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $2,000 (1997 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: NA% industry: NA% services: NA% Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA%
Labor force: NA Labor force - by occupation: agriculture, livestock, and fishing 80%, government 4% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate: NA%
Budget: revenues: $20 million expenditures: $17 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1998 est.)
Industries: copra, handicrafts, fishing, lumber Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production: NA kWh Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: NA% hydro: NA% other: NA% nuclear: NA% Electricity - consumption: NA kWh
Agriculture - products: breadfruit, yams, taro, bananas; pigs, goats
Exports: $250,000 (f.o.b., 1999)
Exports - commodities: copra, chemicals, construction materials
Exports - partners: Italy 40%, Croatia 15%, US 14%, Denmark 13%
Imports: $300,000 (f.o.b., 1999)
Imports - commodities: chemicals, machinery, passenger ships, consumer goods
Imports - partners: France 97%, Australia 2%, New Zealand 1%
Debt - external: $NA Economic aid - recipient: assistance from France
Currency: Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique franc (XPF)
Currency code: XPF
Exchange rates: Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique francs (XPF) per US dollar - 135.04 (January 2002), 133.26 (2001), 129.43 (2000), 111.93 (1999), 107.25 (1998), 106.11 (1997); note - linked at the rate of 119.25 XPF to the euro
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Wallis and Futuna Telephones - main lines in use: 1,125 (1994)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 0 (1994)
Telephone system: general assessment: NA domestic: NA international: NA
Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 0, shortwave 0 (2000)
Radios: NA Television broadcast stations: 2 (2000)
Televisions: NA
Internet country code: .wf Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: NA Transportation Wallis and Futuna
Railways: 0 km
Highways: total: 120 km (Ile Uvea 100 km, Ile Futuna 20 km) paved: 16 km (all on Ile Uvea) unpaved: 104 km (Ile Uvea 84 km, Ile Futuna 20 km)
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: Leava, Mata-Utu
Merchant marine: total: 4 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 71,868 GRT/7,422 DWT ships by type: passenger 4 note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: France 3, United States 1 (2002 est.)
Airports: 2 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 1 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2001) Military Wallis and Futuna
Military - note: defense is the responsibility of France Transnational Issues Wallis and Futuna Disputes - international: none

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▪ French overseas collectivity, Pacific Ocean
in full  Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands , French  Territoire des Îles Wallis et Futuna  
 self-governing overseas collectivity of France consisting of two island groups in the west-central Pacific Ocean. The collectivity is geographically part of western Polynesia. It includes the Wallis Islands (Uvea and surrounding islets) and the Horne (Horne Islands) Islands (Futuna and Alofi). The capital is Matâ'utu, on Uvea. Total land area 54 square miles (140 square km). Pop. (2003) 14,944.

      The island of Uvea takes its European name, Wallis, from its 18th-century British discoverer, Capt. Samuel Wallis, but the indigenous name is of much greater antiquity. Uvea and Futuna are sometimes confused with islands of the same or similar names elsewhere. Uvea is sometimes confused with Ouvéa (Ouvéa Island) in the Loyalty Islands of New Caledonia. Futuna has a namesake among the islands of Vanuatu (formerly the New Hebrides), and folklore suggests that both the Futuna in Vanuatu and the Stewart Islands (Sikaiana) in the Solomon Islands were settled from Futuna in the pre-European era.

 Uvea is a volcanic island, but it is relatively low, rising to a maximum elevation of only 476 feet (145 metres) at Mount Lulu Fakahega. Its total land area is 29 square miles (76 square km). Uvea is surrounded by a barrier reef with some 20 uninhabited islets, which have a maximum elevation of 200 feet (60 metres). The reef is broken by passes that give boats access to the main island, and the area between the reef and the island is a sheltered fishing ground.

      Futuna lies a little over 125 miles (200 km) to the southwest, and it has a smaller neighbour, Alofi. Both are volcanic islands. Futuna has an area of 18 square miles (46 square km), and its volcanic peaks rise to 2,493 feet (760 metres). Alofi's land area is 7 square miles (18 square km), and its highest elevation is about 1,198 feet (365 metres). Futuna and Alofi are separated by a channel of about 2 miles (3.2 km) in width, and both islands are partially sheltered by fringing reefs.

      All three islands receive adequate precipitation. Uvea has no permanent streams, but there are numerous streams and wells on Futuna. Alofi is without fresh water and has no permanent settlements.

      The soils of Uvea and Futuna islands are of limited fertility, and a number of factors restrict agricultural production. Only about one-fourth of the available land is suitable for cultivation. The system of land tenure, which is based on customary ownership by kin groups, has resulted in a fragmentation of land parcels. Traditional agricultural practices alternate two or three years of cropping with long fallow periods, and there has been a cumulative deterioration of the soil.

      The territory's climate is tropical with high humidity. Two seasons are fairly well delineated. The hot, rainy period, during which tropical storms may occur, lasts from November to March and has average temperatures in the high 80s F (about 31 °C). A dry, cooler season with trade winds from the southeast lasts from April to October, with average temperatures in the low 80s F (about 27 °C).

      Basic subsistence crops have been introduced: coconuts, breadfruit, bananas, taro, cassava, yams, mangoes, and pineapples. The coconut groves on Uvea were destroyed by rhinoceros beetles in the 1930s, but the pest did not reach Futuna and Alofi. Substantial stands of undisturbed natural forest remain only on Alofi and a small section of Uvea. Otherwise, forests have virtually disappeared, and erosion is a problem on Futuna.

      All of the territory's land mammals have been introduced. Pigs are of ceremonial importance and very highly valued. Some cattle are also raised. Chickens constitute a minor part of the diet. Fish and other marine fauna provide the bulk of dietary protein.

      The indigenous people are Polynesians, but there are significant differences between the languages and peoples of Uvea and Futuna islands. It appears that Uvea was settled by at least 800 BCE, and the people were subsequently conquered by Tongans. As a consequence, cultural, historical, and linguistic ties link Uvea and Tonga. In contrast, local folklore suggests that Futunans had their origins in Samoa; their language is related to that of Samoa, and the Futunans share many cultural traits with Samoa. Both Wallisian (Uvean) and Futunan are Polynesian languages and, along with French, are official languages. While the people of the islands have long been governed by a French administration and the vast majority profess the Roman Catholic faith, they do not share a common identity. Futuna is reluctantly tied to Uvea, and its people have expressed a desire to have separate territorial status.

      Villages are dispersed on the islands, mainly on the coast. There are no real urban areas. About two-thirds of the population lives on Uvea. The Uvean and Futunan population in New Caledonia is larger than that of the home islands. The majority of the expatriates in New Caledonia are Uveans. The exodus resulted from the pull of greater opportunities for employment abroad and the push of limited prospects and growing population pressures at home. Because of the remittances they contribute to the economy, the expatriates are an asset as long as they remain abroad, but they would place an intolerable burden on local resources if they were to return home.

      The number of French expatriates in Wallis and Futuna has always been small. Of the total resident population in the islands, only a small number are of European descent.

      About four-fifths of the population of Wallis and Futuna engages in subsistence farming, growing yams, taros, bananas, and other food crops. Some livestock is raised (mostly pigs). The notion of selling produce from the land is contrary to traditional custom, wherein items are bartered and not sold. Similarly, fish are caught mostly to satisfy the immediate needs of family, near kin, and neighbours. Most fish are taken in sheltered areas within the fringing reef, and little fishing is done in the open sea.

      Wallis and Futuna is truly resource-poor, and very little revenue is earned from exports. Revenues come from French government subsidies, licensing of fishing rights to Japanese and South Korean companies, import taxes, and remittances from expatriate workers in New Caledonia. Exports include small amounts of breadfruit, yams, and taros, along with trochus shells. Vietnam, New Caledonia, Italy, and Japan are the major recipients. Imports, which come mainly from France and Australia, include food products, electrical machinery, road vehicles, and building and public works supplies.

      Uvea is more developed than Futuna. The French administration is located on Uvea, and that island has the better infrastructure. Its roads and public services are superior, and most households have running water and electricity. The government is the island's largest single employer. In contrast, Futuna is somewhat isolated; there is only a partially surfaced road circling the island; and administrative positions are scarce. Wallis and Futuna attracts a limited amount of tourism.

      There is an international airport at Hihifo, northern Uvea, that is linked to French Polynesia and New Caledonia. Flights operate between Uvea and Futuna islands. A cargo vessel travels between the islands and Nouméa, New Caledonia, about a dozen times a year.

Government and society
      Wallis and Futuna is an overseas collectivity of France divided into three districts that correspond to three traditional political divisions, or kingdoms (more accurately, paramount chieftaincies). One kingdom (Wallis) includes all of Uvea, and the other two divide the island of Futuna (in the northwest, Sigave, and in the southeast, Alo, which also includes the island of Alofi). A French-appointed chief administrator (administrateur supérieur) is the chief executive officer of the territory and serves as the president of the Territorial Council. The council includes the three kings and three others appointed by the president with the approval of the legislature, the Territorial Assembly. The council decides on matters of general policy.

      The Territorial Assembly consists of 20 members (13 from Uvea and seven from Futuna) elected for five-year terms by universal suffrage. The chief administrator has fairly broad veto powers over actions of the Assembly. As an integral part of France, Wallis and Futuna elects local representatives to the French Senate and National Assembly.

      Primary schools in Wallis and Futuna are operated by a Roman Catholic mission and by the state; the state has sole responsibility for secondary education. Both primary and lower-secondary schools are tuition-free. Higher-level education must be pursued in New Caledonia and metropolitan France. Free health services are available at hospitals on both Uvea and Futuna islands.

      The earliest inhabitants in Wallis and Futuna were people of the Lapita culture, who had reached the islands by at least 800 BCE. Archaeological evidence indicates that the people engaged in agriculture and fishing. Later waves of other Polynesian sailors reached the islands about 1400 CE: Samoans (Samoa) settled on Futuna, and Tongans (Tonga) on Uvea.

      The three kingdoms of Uvea, Alo, and Sigave were in place when the islands of Wallis and Futuna were first encountered by Europeans in the 17th century. The Dutch explorers Jakob Le Maire and Willem Schouten (Schouten, Willem) sighted Futuna in 1616 during the early voyages of exploration in the Pacific. A lapse of 151 years occurred before Capt. Samuel Wallis encountered Uvea in 1767. There was another lapse of more than 50 years before the whaling industry reached the area in the 1820s, and Europeans began to make regular calls at both islands.

      French Marist (Marist Father) priests arrived as missionaries in the 1830s. They achieved considerable success within a decade and have remained an important force in the politics of the island group. Protestants never mounted a serious challenge, and the inhabitants of the islands were spared the religious conflicts that were common elsewhere in the Pacific.

      As early as the 1840s, the islanders petitioned for French protection, but France was slow to respond; the Wallis Islands became a French protectorate in 1887, and Futuna did so in the following year. Over the next five decades, the French administration became well-entrenched and ruled the colony with a relatively firm hand.

      In 1942, during World War II, the Allies based 6,000 troops on Uvea, and within a short time they built a system of roads, two landing strips, and anchoring facilities in the lagoon. These developments still form the basis of the island's infrastructure.

      In 1959 the islanders elected to become an overseas territory of France. Historically, the people of Wallis and Futuna have demonstrated conservatism, opposing proposals for a change in their dependent status.

      In 1998 a typhoon (tropical cyclone) destroyed most of the cultivated crops on Uvea, including the island's banana plantations; recovery was aided by a grant from France. The 1998 Nouméa Accord, which increased New Caledonia's autonomy from France, led to discussions regarding the future status of Wallis and Futuna's large community of expatriates in New Caledonia; the accord had given New Caledonia the power to control immigration from Wallis and Futuna in exchange for providing economic aid. In 2003 the two governments concluded a bilateral agreement that redefined their relations under the Nouméa Accord, including provisions for regular discussions regarding issues affecting the expatriates.

      There was instability in the three kingdoms in the early 21st century. The king of Sigave was deposed by members of his clan in 2003 and was not succeeded until five months later. Several years later the other two kingdoms were, for a time, simultaneously leaderless: the king of Wallis died in 2007 after a 48-year reign on Uvea, and the throne remained empty until July 2008; and in February 2008 the king of Alo, after having reigned only five years, was deposed by the kingdom's chiefly clans amid criticism of his leadership style.

Robert C. Kiste Sophie Foster

Additional Reading
General information on the region may be found in Norman Douglas and Ngaire Douglas (eds.), Pacific Islands Yearbook, 17th ed. (1994); Betty Dunford and Reilly Ridgell, Pacific Neighbors (1996); and Christian Jost (ed.), The French-Speaking Pacific: Population, Environment, and Development Issues (1998). International Business Publications, USA, Wallis and Futuna: A Spy Guide (2005), gives an introduction to the islands.Sophie Foster

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Universalium. 2010.

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