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Tokelau islands: three atolls in the seas of Samoa

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Tokelau Islands, formerly known as Union Islands, are a group of three coral atolls located north of Samoa and south of Kiribati. These islands are located about 10 ° south of the equator. Tokelau is is a dependent territory of New Zealand associated with the British Commonwealth. The islands are located about 500 km north of the Samoa islands. The Tokelau atolls were colonized – about 1,000 years ago – by a population of Polynesian origin. The first European to visit Tokelau was the British explorer John Byron who in 1765 discovered the Atafu atoll.


The archipelago is made up of the three atolls of Fakaofo (2.63 sq km), Nukunonu (5.46 sq km) and Atafu (2.03 sq km). The islands are inhabited by a population of Polynesian origin. In these islands the population keeps the ancient customs and lifestyle habits almost intact. Tokelau are among the least visited islands in the Pacific Ocean, in fact there is no airport. The only way to reach them is by the ferry that a few times a month connects the islands with the port of Apia in the Samoa islands.

The local economy is based on fishing, crafts and agriculture. The main export products are copra and textile products, stamps are also important. Tokelau survive mainly thanks to subsidies from New Zealand. The Tokelau islands were the first nation in the world to use exclusively renewable energy, in particular solar energy.

The official page of the Tokelau government.

  • Area: 10 sqkm.
  • Population: 1,450 (2007 data) (Polinesians 100%).
  • State Capital: None; each atoll has its own administrative centre.
  • Languages: Official languages are English and Tokelaun.
  • Religion: Christian 100% (Congregationalist 62%, Catholic 34%). On the island of Atafu almost all the inhabitants are members of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa. While on the island of Nukunonu the inhabitants are almost all Catholics. Finally on the island of Fakaofo there are believers of both religions, but with a majority of Congregationalists.
  • Currency: New Zealand Dollar (NZD).
  • Time: UTC +14 hours.



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