Wallis and Futuna

June 15, 2012, 7:07 am
Source: CIA World Factbook
Content Cover Image

Lake Lalolalo on  ĽUvea. Source:Tau Ľolunga/Wikimedia Commons

Wallis and Futuna is composed of two island groups with fifteen thousand people in the South Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand.

The 274 km2 Wallis and Futuna Islands lie approximately 400 km northeast of the main islands of Fiji.

The groups includes Ile Uvea (Wallis Island), Ile Futuna (Futuna Island), Ile Alofi, and 20 islets. The Futuna and Alofi islands are collectively referred to as Hoorne Islands.

Both island groups have fringing reefs.

Wallace and Fortuna is an overseas territory of France.

The three main islands in the group, Uvea, Futuna, and Alofi, are extinct and deeply eroded volcanoes although once active craters are still visible on Uvea. Futuna and Alofi, 200 km to the west, are older with limestone terraces indicating previous higher sea levels. Uvea has an extensive barrier reef with exposed coral keys and volcanic islets.

There are no permanent settlements on Alofi because of the lack of natural freshwater resources

Its major environmental issues include:

  • deforestation (only small portions of the original forests remain) largely as a result of the continued use of wood as the main fuel source; and,
  • as a consequence of cutting down the forests, the mountainous terrain of Futuna is particularly prone to erosion.

Fiji and Wallis and Futuna were settled by Polynesians and Melanesians between 3300 and 4000 years ago.

The Futuna island group was discovered by the Dutch in 1616 and Wallis by the British in 1767, but it was the French who declared a protectorate over the islands in 1842, and took official control of them between 1886 and 1888.

Notably, Wallis and Futuna was the only French colony to side with the Vichy regime during World War II, a phase that ended in May of 1942 with the arrival of 2,000 American troops.

In 1959, the inhabitants of the islands voted to become a French overseas territory and officially assumed this status in July 1961.

Geography

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

Area: 142 sq km

Coastline: 129 km

Maritime Claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Terrain: volcanic origin; low hills.  The highest point is Mont Singavi (on Futuna) (765 m).

Source: Hobe / Holger Behr/Wikimedia Commons

Source: Hobe / Holger Behr/Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Source: NASA

Land Use:

arable land: 7.14%
permanent crops: 35.71%
other: 57.15% (2005)

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

Ecology and Biodiversity

Ecologically, the islands are included within the Fiji tropical moist forests ecoregion which contains the richest natural communities of all the oceanic islands of the Pacific (not including New Caledonia).

Moist tropical forest occurs as lowland rain forest, montane rain forest, and cloud forest in Fiji, Rotuma, and Wallis and Futuna.  Montane rain forests are found in wind-exposed areas above 400-600 m where temperatures are 4-6°C lower than the on the coast. This wind-swept and stunted forest is dominated by Agathis vitiensis, Podocarpus spp., Calophyllum vitiense, Endospemum macrophyllum, Myristica castaneifolia, Dysoxylum spp., and Metrosideros collina.

Cloud forest occupies about 50-100 km2 scattered above 600-900 m on the ridges and peaks of Fiji’s largest islands and on the 765 m summit of Mount Singavi, Futuna Island.

The tropical moist forests of Fiji, Rotuma, and the Wallis and Futuna Islands contain a rich diversity of flowering plants, unique palm species and endemic frogs, lizards, snakes, and birds including many single island endemics.

The Wallis and Futuna Islands have endemic land snails and 5 endemic bird subspecies.

Limited archeological work suggests that even more species were present in Fiji, and Wallis and Futuna prehistorically. Discovered so far are a giant pigeon (Ducula david), two species of megapode, a giant land iguana, a 3 m land crocodile, a giant frog (Discodeles guppyi), a large horned tortoise (Myolania sp). Most of these are believed to have gone extinct shortly after the arrival of the first humans on the island, perhaps due to overhunting.

Most areas of the Wallis and Futuna islands have been deforested and heavily eroded with about 15% of forest remaining on Uvea and 30% on Futuna, mostly above 400 meters (m) and at the heads and on the steep slopes of deep valleys.

Uninhabited Alofi Island is one of the least disturbed high islands in the Pacific.

Government

Dependency Status:  overseas territory of France

Capital: Mata-Utu (on Ile Uvea)

Administrative divisions: 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

Legal System:  French civil law

People and Society

Population: 15,453 (July 2011 est.)

Ethnic Groups: Polynesian

Age Structure:

0-14 years: 25.1% (male 2,018/female 1,846)
15-64 years: 67.1% (male 5,191/female 5,137)
65 years and over: 7.8% (male 563/female 643) (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate: 0.356% (2011 est.)

Birthrate: 13.91 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death Rate: 4.79 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

Net Migration Rate: -5.57 migrant(s)/1,000 population. Note: there has been steady emigration from Wallis and Futuna to New Caledonia (2011 est.)

Life Expectancy at Birth: 78.98 years

Total Fertility Rate: 1.81 children born/woman (2011 est.)

Languages: Wallisian (indigenous Polynesian language) 58.9%, Futunian 30.1%, French (official) 10.8%, other 0.2% (2003 census)

Literacy (age 15 and over can read and write)50% (1969 est.)

Urbanization: 0% of total population (2008)

Economy

The economy is limited to traditional subsistence agriculture, with about 80% of 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): $60 million (2004 est.)

GDP- per capita (PPP): $3,800 (2004 est.)

Agricultural products: coconuts, breadfruit, yams, taro, bananas; pigs, goats; fish

Industries: copra, handicrafts, fishing, lumber

Currency: Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique francs (XPF)

 

Glossary

Citation

Agency, C., & Fund, W. (2012). Wallis and Futuna. Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/173010

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