French Pacific Dependencies - Wallis and futuna



Wallis Island and the Futuna, or Hoorn, Islands in the Southwest Pacific constitute a French overseas territory, with the capital at Mata-Utu, on Wallis (also called Uvéa). Lying about 400 km (250 mi) W of Pago Pago, American Samoa, at 13° 22′ S and 176° 12′ W , Wallis, 154 sq km (59 sq mi) in area, is surrounded by a coral reef with a single channel. The Futuna Islands are about 190 km (120 mi) to the SW at 14° 20′ S and about 177° 30′ W . They comprise two volcanic islands, Futuna and Alofi, which, together with a group of small islands, have a total area of about 116 sq km (45 sq mi).

The Futuna group was discovered by Dutch sailors in 1616; Wallis (at first called Uvéa) was discovered by the English explorer Samuel Wallis in 1767. A French missionary established a Catholic mission on Wallis in 1837, and missions soon followed on the other islands. In 1842, the French established a protectorate, which was officially confirmed in 1887 for Wallis and in 1888 for Futuna. As of mid-2002, Wallis and Futuna had an estimated 15,585 inhabitants. Most of the population is Polynesian; only 2.5% are European. French and Uvean are the principal languages spoken; 99% of the population is Roman Catholic. A high administrator, representing the French government, is assisted by a 20-seat territorial assembly. Principal commercial activities are the production of copra and fishing for trochus. The chief food crops are yams, taro, bananas, manioc, and arrowroot.

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