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Wallis and Futuna Islands

Wallis and Futuna Islands (wŏlˈĭs, fōtōˈnä) [key], officially Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands, French overseas territory (2008 pop. 13,484), 106 sq mi (274 sq km), S Pacific, W of Samoa and NE of Fiji. Comprising two small groups, the Wallis Islands and the Hoorn (or Horne) Islands, which are c.120 mi (190 km) apart, it is sometimes called Wallis Archipelago. The main volcanic islands are Uvea (Wallis) and Futuna and Alofi (Hoorn); the capital and chief town is Mata-Utu, on Uvea. The Polynesian inhabitants are Roman Catholic and speak Wallisian, Futunian, and French; more Polynesians of Wallisian and Futunian descent now live on New Caledonia, where they have migrated for employment, than in the two island groups. Coconuts, fruits, vegetables, pigs, goats, and fish are the main products; timber and some copra are exported.

The Wallis and Futuna were settled by Polynesian migrants from Tonga and Samoa respectively c.1400 A.D. They were visited by the Dutch (Futuna, 1616) and the English (Wallis, 1767), and came under French control in 1842. They became an overseas territory of France in 1961.

The president of France, represented by the High Administrator, is the head of state. The government is headed by the president of the Territorial Assembly, who is elected by the legislature. Members of the 20-seat Territorial Assembly are elected by popular vote for five-year terms. The territory also elects one deputy to the National Assembly and one member of the Senate of France. The three traditional Polynesian kings advise on traditional affairs.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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