Wallis and Futuna

Environment:

Wallis and Futuna are 2 archipelagos, consisting of 3 islands – Wallis, Futuna, Alofi – and 20 islets, in the South Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand. The island groups are of volcanic origin, with low hills and fringing reefs. The highest point is Mont Puke (aka Singavi) at 524 meters (1,719 feet), on Futuna.

Environmental issues include damage by semi-feral pigs, soil erosion, deforestation, and overfishing. The mountainous terrain of Futuna is particularly prone to erosion. Only small portions of the original forests remain, largely due to the expansion of roads and settlement. There are no permanent settlements on Alofi because of the lack of natural freshwater sources.

Lake Lalolalo, a volcanic crater lake surrounded by jungle to the southwest of the island of Wallis (aka Uvea), is the largest lake on the island. The Lalolalo Vao Tupu is “forbidden forest”, protected by customary taboos.

Wallis Gliss is the local surf club, offering kitesurf, stand up paddleboard, and wakeboard rentals.

Culture:

The majority of people in Wallis and Futuna are traditional Polynesians. The Wallisian language is related to Tongan. The islands are still divided and governed in 3 chiefdoms – Uvea, Alo and Sigave.

Although Wallis was named for the British explorer, Samuel Wallis, it was French missionaries who settled the islands in the 19th century. The canonized saint, Pierre Chanel, was martyred converting the local population into Catholics. As a result, the islands became part of the French colony of New Caledonia. In 1959, the inhabitants voted to become their own French overseas territory, separate from New Caledonia, which took effect in 1961.

There is apparently no official tourism office for Wallis and Futuna; however, there is a French language website for the local government, Préfecture des îles Wallis et Futuna. There are also websites for Hotel Lomipeau in the capital, Mata-Utu, as well as Hôtel Moana Hou in the village of Liku. Aircalin links Wallis and Futuna with New Caledonia. In 2012, Aircalin announced a Discover South Pacific Pass to help visitors go more places, more affordably.

References:

  • Ecotourisme communautaire à Wallis et Futuna by AM D’Hauteserre, 2010
  • Impact of the 29 September 2009 South Pacific tsunami on Wallis and Futuna by G Lamarche, B Pelletier, J Goff, 2010
  • Inventory of alien birds and mammals in the Wallis and Futuna Archipelago by J Theuerkauf, H Jourdan, S Rouys, R Gula, 2010
  • Regional Impact of the 29 September 2009 North Tonga Tsunami on the Futuna and Alofi Islands (Wallis & Futuna) by G Lamarche, B Pelletier, JR Goff, 2009
  • What development for Wallis and Futuna? by F Angleviel, 2004
  • Communication, politics and identity trajectories in Wallis and Futuna HP Leleivai, 2002
  • Notes on the birds of Wallis and Futuna, southwest Pacific by BJ Gill, 1995
  • The Power Of Kava In Futuna And Uvea/Wallis by NJ Pollock, 1995
  • IUCN Directory of Protected Areas in Oceania by JR Paine, 1991
  • The Delayed Impact: Postcolonial Language Problems in the French Overseas Territory Wallis and Futuna (Central Polynesia) by KH Rensch, 1990