Hidden deep in Samoa’s thick jungles, along almost impassible rocky footpaths lie what archaeologists have called the South Pacific’s best-kept secret: star mounds. Around 80 of these ancient, star-shaped platforms have sat abandoned for around 300 years, and even after excavation, their significance continues to baffle experts. Now, though, archaeologists and historians are using the largest of these stone marvels to challenge previously held beliefs about Samoan history.
At 12m high and with a base of 65m by 60m, Pulemelei Mound, which is located on the Samoan island of Savai’i, is one the oldest and largest structures in Polynesia. Often referred to as a pyramid despite its flat top, Pulemelei Mound was most likely built in stages starting in 1,000 CE, and the structure contains eight points, or cogs, giving it the look of a star from above. It is almost squarely oriented with the points of the compass and is surrounded by several smaller mounds.
While some locals and experts believe that the pyramid was used for pigeon-snaring competitions, religious ceremonies or meetings, or as a burial monument or lookout platform, no-one has been able to pinpoint its actual significance. But now, new laser mapping of the area surrounding Pulemelei Mound has recently provided a vital clue to archaeologists.
A vast network of ruins was discovered beneath the area in a 2002-to-2004 excavation, and experts believe it is evidence of an entire pre-colonial settlement that flourished before European discovery in 1722. Experts also say that this new discovery proves that Samoa’s population before colonialism was far larger than previously thought, and they now suggest that the Samoan population mortality rate following colonialism was around 80 to 90% in some areas, a steep and shocking increase from the 20-to-50% estimate that was previously accepted.
Where Is Oceania? 4 Things to Know About This Remote Corner of the Globe
Have you heard of Oceania? If not, don’t worry. You aren’t alone. Few people outside of the region are familiar with this remote corner of the world, despite its rich cultural background. Let’s shine some light on the area with four things you might not have known about Oceania.
Test your knowledge!
What city’s skyline is this?
Oceania Is the Region Between Asia and the Americas
First and foremost, where the heck is Oceania? Oceania is the collective name for the islands that rest between Asia, Australia, and North America. The area is generally broken into four parts:
Australasia (Australia and New Zealand)
Broadly, this range encompasses most of the tiny islands and archipelagos that dot the Pacific. In fact, Oceania contains over 10,000 islands across its entire geography. But of course, not every island in the Pacific qualifies as part of Oceania.
The islands included in Oceania’s territory are grouped together for their similarities in heritage and cultural traditions. But others in the area, such as Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, and the Philippines, have cultures more firmly rooted in the Asian continent proper. Therefore, common definitions often exclude them from Oceania’s boundaries.
Oceania Contains 14 Different Countries
Within the above four regions, there’s a surprising amount of political diversity. The Oceania region is home to 14 different countries:
Papua New Guinea
Federated States of Micronesia
In addition to these countries, the greater Oceania region boasts many islands that belong to mainland countries located elsewhere in the world. Many of the countries listed above (like Australia or Fiji) are sovereign nations in their own right, though many of the smaller island nations became independent only recently. Others are even more complicated.
Take Samoa, for example: An archipelago with both sovereign and owned islands. While the western islands of Samoa are self-managed, the eastern island — dubbed “American Samoa” — is an official territory of the U.S. And given just how many islands there are throughout Oceania, it’s fair to say that this region has a more complicated political landscape than other isolated areas.
Oceania’s Economy Is Dominated by Tourism
Though home to over 40 million people, Oceania is considered somewhat remote compared to many other parts of the world. And though many of its member nations have thriving import/export economies that bring in substantial income, the vast majority of the region’s economy is dominated by a single industry: tourism.
According to state reports, tourism contributed $57 billion to Australia’s economy in 2017/2018. Other regions in the area, such as New Zealand and the Hawaiian Islands, report similar figures, with tourism making up substantial portions of their GDP.
Part of the region’s desirability comes from its isolation. Wealthy travelers from Japan, China, the Americas, and the U.K. regularly visit the Oceanic region on holidays, likely because of the area’s unique climate, diverse wildlife, and “beachside paradise” allure. And while tourism is a challenging income source to maintain, it has the potential to bring significant revenue to otherwise impoverished areas.
Oceania Is Home to Ancient Artistic Tradition
With so many diverse member states and cultural histories making up its foundation, it makes sense that Oceanian art would be rooted in human history. In fact, the longest continuously-practiced artistic tradition in the world is found in Oceania: The rock art of Australian Aboriginal cultures, some of which date back over 40,000 years!
But that’s only the beginning. The Oceanic region is known for artistic works of all kinds, including sculptures, paintings, feather works, tattoos and bark weaving. You might be familiar with one of the region’s most iconic and mysterious artistic creations, the Easter Island Moai.
These giant, monolithic statues were carved by the Rapa Nui people of Polynesia sometime between 1400 and 1650 CE. And while they’re just one of the many amazing cultural artifacts to come out of Oceania, they’re certainly an impressive sight to behold.
The Diverse World of Oceania
Unlike other regions, Oceania is too diverse to lay claim to a specific culture or set of beliefs. Its constituent nations are diverse, and so are its inhabitants. So if you ever get a chance to get down there and see the area for yourself, we suggest you take it! It’s a remote region of the world unlike any other.
Like this post? Spread the word and share it on social media.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK)
The French annexed various Polynesian island groups during the 19th century. In September 1995, France stirred up widespread protests by resuming nuclear testing on the Mururoa atoll after a three-year moratorium. The tests were suspended in January 1996. In recent years, French Polynesia’s autonomy has been considerably expanded.
The French Polynesian island groups do not share a common history before the establishment of the French protectorate in 1889. The first French Polynesian islands to be settled by Polynesians were the Marquesas Islands in AD 300 and the Society Islands in AD 800. The Polynesians were organized in petty chieftainships. 
European discovery began in 1521 when the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan sighted Pukapuka in the Tuamotu Archipelago. Dutchman Jacob Roggeveen discovered Bora Bora in the Society Islands in 1722, and the British explorer Samuel Wallis visited Tahiti in 1767. The French explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville visited Tahiti in 1768, while the British explorer James Cook visited in 1769. Christian missions began with Spanish priests who stayed in Tahiti for a year from 1774; Protestants from the London Missionary Society settled permanently in Polynesia in 1797. 
King Pomare II of Tahiti was forced to flee to Moorea in 1803; he and his subjects were converted to Protestantism in 1812. French Catholic missionaries arrived on Tahiti in 1834; their expulsion in 1836 caused France to send a gunboat in 1838. In 1842, Tahiti and Tahuata were declared a French protectorate, to allow Catholic missionaries to work undisturbed. The capital of Papeete was founded in 1843. In 1880, France annexed Tahiti, changing the status from that of a protectorate to that of a colony. 
In the 1880s, France claimed the Tuamotu Archipelago, which formerly belonged to the Palmer dynasty, without formally annexing it. Having declared a protectorate over Tahuatu in 1842, the French regarded the entire Marquesas Islands as French. In 1885, France appointed a governor and established a general council, thus giving it the proper administration for a colony. The islands of Rimatara and Rurutu unsuccessfully lobbied for British protection in 1888, so in 1889 they were annexed by France. Postage stamps were first issued in the colony in 1892. The first official name for the colony was Etablissements De L’Oceanie (Settlements in Oceania); in 1903 the general council was changed to an advisory council and the colony’s name was changed to Etablissements Francaises De L’Oceanie (French Settlements in Oceania).
In 1940 the administration of French Polynesia recognised the Free French Forces and many Polynesians served in World War II. Unknown at the time to French and Polynesians, the Konoe Cabinet in Imperial Japan on September 16, 1940 included French Polynesia among the many territories which were to become Japanese possessions in the post-war world  – though in the course of the war in the Pacific the Japanese were not able to launch an actual invasion of the French islands.
In 1946, Polynesians were granted French citizenship and the islands’ status was changed to an overseas territory; the islands’ name was changed in 1957 to Polynésie Française (French Polynesia). In 1962, France’s early nuclear testing ground of Algeria became independent and the Mururoa Atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago was selected as the new testing site; tests were conducted underground after 1974.In 1977, French Polynesia was granted partial internal autonomy; in 1984, the autonomy was extended. French Polynesia became a full overseas collectivity of France in 2004. 
In September 1995, France stirred up widespread protests by resuming nuclear testing at Fangataufa atoll after a three-year moratorium. The last test was on January 27, 1996. On January 29, 1996, France announced it would accede to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and no longer test nuclear weapons.
Location: Oceania, archipelagoes in the South Pacific Ocean about one-half of the way from South America to Australia
Geographic coordinates: 15 00 S, 140 00 W
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 4,167 sq km (118 islands and atolls)
land: 3,660 sq km
water: 507 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly less than one-third the size of Connecticut
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 2,525 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical, but moderate
Terrain: mixture of rugged high islands and low islands with reefs
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Orohena 2,241 m
Natural resources: timber, fish, cobalt, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 0.75%
permanent crops: 5.5%
other: 93.75% (2005)
Irrigated land: 10 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards: occasional cyclonic storms in January
Environment – current issues: NA
Geography – note: includes five archipelagoes (4 volcanic, 1 coral); Makatea in French Polynesia is one of the three great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean – the others are Banaba (Ocean Island) in Kiribati and Nauru
Population: 278,963 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 25.4% (male 36,223/female 34,677)
15-64 years: 68.2% (male 98,784/female 91,585)
65 years and over: 6.3% (male 8,933/female 8,761) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 28.3 years
male: 28.6 years
female: 28 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.461% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 16.41 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 4.61 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.81 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.045 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.079 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.02 male(s)/female
total population: 1.066 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 7.84 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 9.01 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.62 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 76.31 years
male: 73.88 years
female: 78.86 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.98 children born/woman (2007 est.)
Ethnic groups: Polynesian 78%, Chinese 12%, local French 6%, metropolitan French 4%
Religions: Protestant 54%, Roman Catholic 30%, other 10%, no religion 6%
Languages: French 61.1% (official), Polynesian 31.4% (official), Asian languages 1.2%, other 0.3%, unspecified 6% (2002 census)
Literacy: definition: age 14 and over can read and write
total population: 98%
female: 98% (1977 est.)
Country name: conventional long form: Overseas Lands of French Polynesia
conventional short form: French Polynesia
local long form: Pays d’outre-mer de la Polynesie Francaise
local short form: Polynesie Francaise
former: French Colony of Oceania
Dependency status: overseas lands of France; overseas territory of France from 1946-2004
Government type: NA
Capital: name: Papeete
geographic coordinates: 17 32 S, 149 34 W
time difference: UTC-10 (5 hours behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: none (overseas lands of France); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are five archipelagic divisions named Archipel des Marquises, Archipel des Tuamotu, Archipel des Tubuai, Iles du Vent, Iles Sous-le-Vent
Independence: none (overseas lands of France)
National holiday: Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
Constitution: 4 October 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system: the laws of France, where applicable, apply
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Nicolas SARKOZY (since 16 May 2007), represented by High Commissioner of the Republic Anne BOQUET (since September 2005)
head of government: President of French Polynesia Oscar TEMARU (since 13 September 2007); note – President TEMARU resigned on 27 January 2008; President of the Territorial Assembly Antony GEROS (since 9 May 2004)
cabinet: Council of Ministers; president submits a list of members of the Territorial Assembly for approval by them to serve as ministers
elections: French president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; high commissioner appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of Interior; president of the territorial government and the president of the Territorial Assembly are elected by the members of the assembly for five-year terms (no term limits)
Legislative branch: unicameral Territorial Assembly or Assemblee Territoriale (57 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 27 January 2008 (first round) and 10 February 2008 (second round) (next to be held NA 2013)
election results: percent of vote by party – Our Home alliance 45.2%, Union for Democracy alliance 37.2%, Popular Rally (Tahoeraa Huiraatira) 17.2% other 0.5%; seats by party – Our Home alliance 27, Union for Democracy alliance 20, Popular Rally 10
note: one seat was elected to the French Senate on 27 September 1998 (next to be held in September 2007); results – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – NA; two seats were elected to the French National Assembly on 9 June-16 June 2002 (next to be held in 2007); results – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – UMP/RPR 1, UMP 1
Judicial branch: Court of Appeal or Cour d’Appel; Court of the First Instance or Tribunal de Premiere Instance; Court of Administrative Law or Tribunal Administratif
Political parties and leaders: Alliance for a New Democracy or ADN [Nicole BOUTEAU and Philip SCHYLE](includes the parties The New Star and This Country is Yours); Independent Front for the Liberation of Polynesia (Tavini Huiraatira) [Oscar TEMARU]; New Fatherland Party (Ai’a Api) [Emile VERNAUDON]; Our Home alliance; People’s Rally for the Republic of Polynesia or RPR (Tahoeraa Huiraatira) [Gaston FLOSSE]; Union for Democracy alliance or UPD [Oscar TEMARU]
Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: FZ, ITUC, PIF (associate member), SPC, UPU, WMO
Diplomatic representation in the US: none (overseas lands of France)
Diplomatic representation from the US: none (overseas lands of France)
Flag description: two narrow red horizontal bands encase a wide white band; centered on the white band is a disk with a blue and white wave pattern on the lower half and a gold and white ray pattern on the upper half; a stylized red, blue, and white ship rides on the wave pattern; the French flag is used for official occasions
Government – note: under certain acts of France, French Polynesia has acquired autonomy in all areas except those relating to police and justice, monetary policy, tertiary education, immigration, and defense and foreign affairs; the duties of its president are fashioned after those of the French prime minister
Total population at the August 2007 census was 259,596 inhabitants. At the 2007 census, 68.6% of the population of French Polynesia lived on the island of Tahiti alone. The urban area of Papeete, the capital city, has 131,695 inhabitants (2007 census).
At the November 2002 census, 87.2% of people were born in French Polynesia, 9.5% were born in metropolitan France, 1.4% were born in overseas France outside of French Polynesia, and 1.9% were born in foreign countries. At the 1988 census, the last census which asked questions regarding ethnicity, 66.5% of people were ethnically unmixed Polynesians, 7.1 % were Polynesians with light European or East Asian mixing, 11.9% were Europeans, 9.3% were people of mixed European and Polynesian descent, the so-called Demis (literally meaning “Half”), and 4.7% were East Asians (mainly Chinese). The Europeans, the Demis and the East Asians are essentially concentrated on the island of Tahiti, particularly in the urban area of Papeete, where their share of the population is thus much more important than in French Polynesia overall. Race mixing has been going on for more than a century already in French Polynesia, resulting in a rather mixed society. For example Gaston Flosse, the current leader of French Polynesia, is a Demi (European father from Lorraine and Polynesian mother). His main opponent Gaston Tong Sang is a member of the East Asian (in his case Chinese) community. Oscar Temaru, the pro-independence leader, is ethnically Polynesian (father from Tahiti, mother from the Cook Islands), but he has admitted to also have Chinese ancestry.
Despite a long tradition of race mixing, racial tensions have been growing in recent years, with politicians using a xenophobic discourse and fanning the flame of racial tensions. The pro-independence politicians have long pointed the finger at the European community (Oscar Temaru, pro-independence leader and former president of French Polynesia, was for example found guilty of “racial discrimination” by the criminal court of Papeete in 2007 for having referred to the Europeans living in French Polynesia as “trash”, “waste”). More recently, the Chinese community which controls many businesses in French Polynesia has been targeted in verbal attacks by the newly allied Gaston Flosse and Oscar Temaru in their political fight against Gaston Tong Sang, whose Chinese origins they emphasize in contrast with their Polynesian origins, despite the fact that they both have mixed origins (European and Polynesian for Flosse; Polynesian and Chinese for Temaru).
Like this post? Spread the word and share it on social media.
Originally settled by Polynesian emigrants from surrounding island groups, the Tokelau Islands were made a British protectorate in 1889. They were transferred to New Zealand administration in 1925. Referenda held in 2006 and 2007 to change the status of the islands from that of a New Zealand territory to one of free association with New Zealand did not meet the needed threshold for approval.
Archaeological evidence indicates that the atolls of Tokelau — Atafu, Nukunonu, and Fakaofo — were settled about 1000 years ago, probably by voyages from Samoa, the Cook Islands and Tuvalu. Oral history traces local traditions and genealogies back several hundred years. Inhabitants followed Polynesian mythology with the local god Tui Tokelau; and developed forms of music (see Music of Tokelau) and art. The three atolls functioned largely independently while maintaining social and linguistic cohesion. Tokelauan society was governed by chiefly clans, and there were occasional inter-atoll skirmishes and wars as well as inter-marriage. Fakaofo, the “chiefly island,” held some dominance over Atafu and Nukunonu. Life on the atolls was subsistence-based, with reliance on fish and coconut.
Western discovery and contact
Commodore John Byron discovered Atafu on 24 June 1765 and named it “Duke of York’s Island.” Parties onshore reported that there were no signs of current or previous inhabitants. Captain Edward Edwards, in knowledge of Byron’s discovery, visited Atafu on 6 June 1791 in search of the Bounty mutineers. There were no permanent inhabitants, but houses contained canoes and fishing gear, suggesting the island was used as a temporary residence by fishing parties. On 12 June 1791, Edwards sailed southward and discovered Nukunonu, naming it “Duke of Clarence’s Island”. A landing party could not make contact with the people but saw “morais,” burying places, and canoes with “stages in their middle” sailing across the lagoons.
On 29 October 1825 August R. Strong of the U.S.N Dolphin wrote of his crew’s arrival at the atoll Nukunonu, “Upon examination, we found they had removed all the women and children from the settlement, which was quite small, and put them in canoes lying off a rock in the lagoon. They would frequently come near the shore, but when we approached they would pull off with great noise and precipitation.” (The Journal of the South Pacific, 110 (3), pp.296).
Fakaofo islanders, drawn in 1841 by the United States Exploring Expedition
On 14 February 1835 Captain Smith of the United States whaler General Jackson records discovering Fakaofo, calling it “D’Wolf’s Island”. On 25 January 1841, the United States Exploring Expedition visited Atafu and discovered a small population living on the island. The residents appeared to be temporary, evidenced by the lack of a chief and the possession of double canoes (used for inter-island travel). They desired to barter, and possessed blue beads and a plane-iron, indicating previous interaction with foreigners. The expedition reached Nukunonu on 28 January 1841 but did not record any information about inhabitants. On 29 January 1841, the expedition discovered Fakaofo and named it “Bowditch”. The islanders were found to be similar in appearance and nature to those in Atafu.
Missionaries preached Christianity in Tokelau from 1845 to the 1860s. French Catholic missionaries on Wallis Island (also known as ‘Uvea) and missionaries of the Protestant London Missionary Society in Samoa used native teachers to convert the Tokelauans. Atafu was converted to Protestantism by the London Missionary Society, Nukunonu was converted to Catholicism and Fakofo was converted to both denominations. Peruvian slave traders arrived in 1863 and took nearly all (253) of the able-bodied men to work as labourers. The men died of dysentery and smallpox, and very few returned to Tokelau. With this loss, the system of governance became based on the “Taupulega”, or “Councils of Elders”, where individual families on each atoll were represented. During this time, Polynesian immigrants and American, Scottish, French, Portuguese and German beachcombers settled, marrying local women and repopulating the atolls.
Villages are entitled to enact their own laws regulating their daily lives and New Zealand law only applies where it has been extended by specific enactment. Serious crime is rare and there are no prisons – offenders are publicly rebuked, fined or made to work
In 1877 the islands were included under the protection of Great Britain by an Order-in-council which claimed jurisdiction over all unclaimed Pacific Islands. Commander C. F. Oldham on HMS Egeria landed at each of the three atolls in June 1889 and officially raised the Union Flag, declaring the group a British protectorate. The British government annexed Tokelau to the colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands and transferred Tokelau to New Zealand administration in 1926, abolishing the islands’ chiefdoms. By the Tokelau Act of 1948, sovereignty over Tokelau was transferred to New Zealand. Defence is also the responsibility of New Zealand. However, the Tokelauans are drafting a constitution and developing institutions and patterns of self-government as Tokelau moves towards free association with New Zealand, similarly to Niue and the Cook Islands.
Location: Oceania, group of three atolls in the South Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand
Geographic coordinates: 9 00 S, 172 00 W
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 10 sq km
land: 10 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: about 17 times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 101 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; moderated by trade winds (April to November)
Terrain: low-lying coral atolls enclosing large lagoons
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location 5 m
Natural resources: NEGL
Land use: arable land: 0% (soil is thin and infertile)
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: lies in Pacific typhoon belt
Environment – current issues: limited natural resources and overcrowding are contributing to emigration to New Zealand
Geography – note: consists of three atolls (Atafu, Fakaofo, Nukunonu), each with a lagoon surrounded by a number of reef-bound islets of varying length and rising to over 3 m above sea level
The head of state is Elizabeth II, the Queen in right of New Zealand, who also reigns over the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms. The Queen is represented in the territory by Administrator David Payton. The current head of government is Kuresa Nasau, who presides over the Council for the Ongoing Governance of Tokelau, which functions as a cabinet. The Council consists of the Faipule (leader) and Pulenuku (village mayor) of each of the three atolls.The monarch is hereditary, the administrator appointed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade in New Zealand, and the office of head of government rotates between the three Faipule for a one-year term.
The Tokelau Amendment Act of 1996 confers legislative power on the General Fono, a unicameral body. The number of seats each atoll receives in the Fono is determined by population — at present, Fakaofo and Atafu both have eight and Nukunonu has seven. Faipule and Pukenuku (atoll leaders and village mayors) also sit in the Fono.
On 11 November 2004 Tokelau and New Zealand took steps to formulate a treaty that would turn Tokelau from a non-self-governing territory to a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand. Besides the treaty, a UN-sponsored referendum on self-determination took place, with the three islands voting on successive days starting 13 February 2006. (Tokelauans based in Apia, Samoa, voted on February 11.) . Out of 581 votes cast, 349 were for Free Association, being short of the two-thirds majority required for the measure to pass. The referendum was profiled (somewhat light-heartedly) in the 1 May 2006 issue of The New Yorker magazine. A repeat referendum took place on October 20-24, 2007, again narrowly failing to approve self-government. This time the vote was short by just 16 votes or 3%.
In May 2008, the United Nations’ Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged colonial powers “to complete the decolonization process in every one of the remaining 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories”, including Tokelau. This led the New Zealand Herald to comment that the United Nations was “apparently frustrated by two failed attempts to get Tokelau to vote for independence”.
Population: 1,433 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 42%
15-64 years: 53%
65 years and over: 5%
Population growth rate: -0.011% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: NA (2008 est.)
Death rate: NA (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: NA
Infant mortality rate: total: NA
female: NA (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: NA
female: NA (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: NA (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Tokelauan(s)
Ethnic groups: Polynesian
Religions: Congregational Christian Church 70%, Roman Catholic 28%, other 2%
note: on Atafu, all Congregational Christian Church of Samoa; on Nukunonu, all Roman Catholic; on Fakaofo, both denominations, with the Congregational Christian Church predominant
Languages: Tokelauan (a Polynesian language), English
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 11 years
male: 10 years
female: 11 years (2004)
Education expenditures: NA
Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Tokelau
Dependency status: self-administering territory of New Zealand; note – Tokelau and New Zealand have agreed to a draft constitution as Tokelau moves toward free association with New Zealand; a UN sponsored referendum on self governance in October 2007 did not produce the two-thirds majority vote necessary for changing the political status
Government type: NA
Capital: none; each atoll has its own administrative center
time difference: UTC-11 (6 hours behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: none (territory of New Zealand)
Independence: none (territory of New Zealand)
National holiday: Waitangi Day (Treaty of Waitangi established British sovereignty over New Zealand), 6 February (1840)
Constitution: administered under the Tokelau Islands Act of 1948; amended in 1970
Legal system: New Zealand and local statutes
Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General of New Zealand Anand SATYANAND (since 23 August 2006); New Zealand is represented by Administrator David PAYTON (since 17 October 2006)
head of government: Pio TUIA (since 23 February 2008); note – position rotates annually among the three Faipule (village leaders)
cabinet: the Council for the Ongoing Government of Tokelau, consisting of three Faipule (village leaders) and three Pulenuku (village mayors), functions as a cabinet
elections: the monarch is hereditary; administrator appointed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade in New Zealand; the head of government is chosen from the Council of Faipule and serves a one-year term
Legislative branch: unicameral General Fono (20 seats; based upon proportional representation from the three islands elected by popular vote to serve three-year terms; Atafu has seven seats, Fakaofo has seven seats, Nukunonu has six seats); note – the Tokelau Amendment Act of 1996 confers limited legislative power on the General Fono
elections: last held 17-19 January 2008 (next to be held in 2011)
election results: independents 20
Judicial branch: Supreme Court in New Zealand exercises civil and criminal jurisdiction in Tokelau
Political parties and leaders: none
Political pressure groups and leaders: none
International organization participation: PIF (observer), SPC, UNESCO (associate), UPU
Diplomatic representation in the US: none (territory of New Zealand)
Diplomatic representation from the US: none (territory of New Zealand)
Flag description: the flag of New Zealand is used
Economy – overview: Tokelau’s small size (three villages), isolation, and lack of resources greatly restrain economic development and confine agriculture to the subsistence level. The people rely heavily on aid from New Zealand – about $4 million annually – to maintain public services with annual aid being substantially greater than GDP. The principal sources of revenue come from sales of copra, postage stamps, souvenir coins, and handicrafts. Money is also remitted to families from relatives in New Zealand.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $1.5 million (1993 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $NA
GDP – real growth rate: NA%
GDP – per capita (PPP): $1,000 (1993 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: NA%
Labor force: 440 (2001)
Unemployment rate: NA%
Population below poverty line: NA%
Budget: revenues: $430,800
expenditures: $2.8 million (1987 est.)
Fiscal year: 1 April – 31 March
Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA%
Agriculture – products: coconuts, copra, breadfruit, papayas, bananas; pigs, poultry, goats; fish
Industries: small-scale enterprises for copra production, woodworking, plaited craft goods; stamps, coins; fishing
Electricity – production: NA kWh
Electricity – consumption: NA kWh
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 100%
other: 0% (2001)
Exports: $0 (2002)
Exports – commodities: stamps, copra, handicrafts
Imports: $969,200 c.i.f. (2002)
Imports – commodities: foodstuffs, building materials, fuel
Currency (code): New Zealand dollar (NZD)
Currency code: NZD
Exchange rates: New Zealand dollars (NZD) per US dollar – 1.4151 (2008 est.), 1.3811 (2007), 1.5408 (2006), 1.4203 (2005), 1.5087 (2004)
Telephones – main lines in use: 300 (2002)
Telephone system: general assessment: modern satellite-based communications system
domestic: radiotelephone service between islands
international: country code – 690; radiotelephone service to Samoa; government-regulated telephone service (TeleTok); satellite earth stations – 3
Radio broadcast stations: AM NA, FM NA, shortwave NA (one radio station provides service to all islands) (2002)
Radios: 1,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .tk
Internet hosts: 273 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: NA
Ports and terminals: none; offshore anchorage only
Military – note: defense is the responsibility of New Zealand
Disputes – international: Tokelau included American Samoa’s Swains Island (Olohega) in its 2006 draft constitution
Like this post? Spread the word and share it on social media.