The Collectivity of Wallis and Futuna (French: Collectivité de Wallis et Futuna) is a group of mainly three volcanic tropical islands (Wallis, Futuna, and Alofi) with fringing reefs located in the South Pacific Ocean.
Wallis and Futuna is a French overseas collectivity (French: collectivité d'outre-mer, or COM) since 2003. Between 1961 and 2003, it had the status of an overseas territory (French: territoire d'outre-mer, or TOM).
Although they were discovered by the Dutch and the British 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 Catholicism. On April 5, 1842, they 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 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.
- See also Politics of Wallis and Futuna
The territory is divided into three traditional chiefdoms (royaumes coutumiers): Uvea (on the island of Wallis), Sigave (on the western part of the island of Futuna), and Alo (on the island of Alofi and on the eastern part of the island of Futuna). The capital of the territory is Mata-Utu on the island of Wallis (the most populated island). As a territory of France, it is governed under the French constitution of September 28, 1958, uses the French legal system, and suffrage is universal for those over 18 years of age. The French president 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 Jacques Chirac of France as represented by High Administrator Christian Job (since 08/06/2002). The head of government is President of the Territorial Assembly Soane Uhila. The Council of the Territory consists of three kings (kings of the three traditional chiefdoms) and three members appointed by the high administrator on the advice of the Territorial Assembly.
The legislative branch consists of the unicameral Territorial Assembly or Assemblée territoriale of 20 seats; the members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms. Wallis and Futuna elects one senator to the French Senate and one deputy to the French National Assembly.
Justice is generally administered under French law by a tribunal of first instance in Mata-Utu, but the three traditional chiefdoms administer justice according to customary law (only for non criminal cases). The court of appeal is in Nouméa, New Caledonia.
The territory participates in the FZ, and Secretariat of the Pacific Community.
Wallis and Futuna is located about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand, at 13°18'S, 176°12'W.
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 274 km² with 129 km of coastline. The highest point in the territory is Mont Singavi (on the island of Futuna) at 765 m (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 2500 to 3000 millimeters each year. The average humidity is 80% and the temperature 26.6C.
Only five percent of the islands' land area is arable land; permanent crops cover another 20%. 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.
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.
The gross domestic product had in 1995 a purchasing power parity of about $28.7 million total, about $2000 per capita. The territory takes in about $20 million per year in revenues against about $17 million in expenditures.
Industries include copra, handicrafts, fishing, and lumber. Agricultural products include breadfruit, yams, taro, bananas, pigs, and goats. In 1995, about $370,000 worth of commodities (copra, breadfruit, yams, taro roots, handicrafts) were exported, and about $13.5 million worth of commodities (foodstuffs, manufactured goods, transportation equipment, fuel, clothing) were imported, primarily from France, Australia, and New Zealand.
The territory uses the CFP Franc, along with the French territories of New Caledonia and French Polynesia; the CFP franc (XPF) is fixed vs. the euro, at the rate of 1,000 XPF = 8.38 euro.
The total population of the territory at the 2003 census was 14,944 (67.4% on the island of Wallis, 32.6% on the island of Futuna), the vast majority of Polynesian ethnicity, with a small minority 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. They speak both French and Wallisian or Futunian, the indigenous Polynesian languages. Half the total population (both men and women) age 15 and over can read and write.
Transportation & Communications
In 1994, the territory had 1,125 telephones in use, had one AM radio station, and two television broadcast stations.
The island of Wallis has about 100 kilometers of highway, 16 paved, while the island of Futuna has only 20 kilometers, none of it paved. The territory has two main ports and harbors, Leava (on the island of Futuna), and Mata-Utu, that support its merchant marine fleet consisting of three ships totaling 92,060 GRT or 45,881 DWT: two passenger ships and a petroleum tanker. There are two airports, one with a paved runway about 2000 meters long, one with a 1000-meter unpaved strip.
The territory's data code and country code (top level Internet domain) is WF.
- Map of Wallis and Futuna (http://www.mapsouthpacific.com/wallis/index.html)
- http://www.tlfq.ulaval.ca/axl/pacifique/wallis-futuna.htm (in French)