Tokelau Facts

Tokelau Facts and History


Tokelau is located in the southern Pacific around 500 km north of Samoa. It is an area dependent on New Zealand. Tokelau means “north”.

Tokelau consists of the three scattered atolls Atafu, Fakaofo and Nukunonu, which do not rise more than 5 m above sea level. This makes the country particularly vulnerable when the sea level, e.g. B. as a result of climate change, would increase. Since Tokelau has neither a port nor an airport, it is not easy to get to the island.

Tokelau was only connected to the international telephone network in 1990. It was the last country in the world that was supplied with it.

Tokelau is next to the Ross Dependency in Antarctica a dependency, an area dependent on New Zealand.

Name of the country Tokelau
Form of government Dependency of New Zeala
Geographical location In the South Pacific, around 500 km north of Samoa; at about 09 ° south latitude and 172 ° west longitude
Head of state Queen Elizabeth II.
National anthem God Save the Queen (the Great Britain’s hymn)
Population approx. 1,500 residents (Credit: Countryaah: Tokelau Facts)
Ethnicities Polynesians
Religions Protestants, Catholics
Languages Tokalauian, English
Capital not available
Surface 12 km²
Highest elevation The highest point is 5 m high
International license plate there are no cars on the islands
currency New Zealand dollars
Time difference to CET – 12 h
International phone code +690
Internet TLD (Top Level Domain) .tk

Tokelau: history

It is believed that the first settlers came from Samoa, Rarotonga (Cook Islands) or Tuvalu.

The Europeans are coming

According to Abbreviationfinder website, John Byron (1723-1786) sighted Atafu Island in 1765 and named it Duke of York’s Island. In search of the mutineers of the Bounty, Captain Edward Edwards (1742-1815) sailed past Atafu in 1791. A few days later he sighted Nukunonu and named this island Duke of Clarence’s Island. He did not enter the island, however. In 1835 the American whaler General Jackson sighted Fakaofo Island. He named the atoll De Wolfs Island.


In the years 1845-1860, French missionaries who came from the Wallis Islands converted the islanders of Nukunonu to Catholicism.

The London Missionary Society evangelized the residents of Atafu to the Protestant faith. The islanders of Fakaofos adopted both faiths.

In the 1860s, slave hunters from Peru abducted around 140 islanders. At the same time, whalers and traders of various nationalities came to settle and mingle with the locals. In 1887, Tokelau was taken over by the British from Fijimanaged out. In 1889 Tokelau became a British protectorate because the island wanted to be used as a station for the planned transpacific cable. They became part of the administration of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands in 1916. The islands came under New Zealand administration in 1925, based on Western Samoa. In 1948, the islands were added to New Zealand with the Tokelau Islands Act.

In 1974 the Foreign Minister of New Zealand was given administrative authority over the islands. The tiny islands were partially overpopulated. The New Zealand government therefore issued the Resettlement Scheme in 1970. Because of this, Tokelau residents were moved to New Zealand. Nowadays there are around 3,000 Tokelau residents in New Zealand, which makes their number about twice as large as that of Tokelau residents on the islands, which has around 1,500 residents.

Since 1992 Tokelau has been administered mainly by institutions on the islands themselves. In 1994 the administration became a kind of parliament, General Fono (More on this under: political system), transferred. With the addition of the law in 1996, General Fono can now also enact laws and levy taxes. Tokelau seeks an association with New Zealand that should resemble the status of the Cook Islands and Niue.

As with the people of the Cook Islands and Niue, the population is divided in terms of complete independence. The connection with New Zealand also brings great advantages, such as financial aid and freedom of movement for the islanders to be able to settle in New Zealand.

Other islands have had to pay for their “freedom” by eliminating financial support.

In February 2006, around 600 eligible voters from Tokelau voted to maintain the situation of dependence on New Zealand. In the event of independence, it was feared that New Zealand would not maintain the support services as promised after a possible independence. New Zealand funds 80% of the Tokelau budget. Furthermore, around four times as many Tokelauers live in New Zealand as in Tokelau itself.

Tokelau Facts