Australia-Oceania :: TOKELAU
Page last updated on November 10, 2016
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  • Introduction :: TOKELAU

  • 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.
  • Geography :: TOKELAU

  • Oceania, group of three atolls in the South Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand
    9 00 S, 172 00 W
    total: 12 sq km
    land: 12 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 242
    about 17 times the size of the National Mall in Washington, DC
    0 km
    101 km
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
    tropical; moderated by trade winds (April to November)
    low-lying coral atolls enclosing large lagoons
    mean elevation: NA
    elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
    highest point: unnamed location 5 m
    agricultural land: 60%
    arable land 0%; permanent crops 60%; permanent pasture 0%
    forest: 0%
    other: 40% (2011 est.)
    0 sq km (2012)
    lies in Pacific typhoon belt
    limited natural resources and overcrowding are contributing to emigration to New Zealand
    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
  • People and Society :: TOKELAU

  • 1,337 (July 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 234
    noun: Tokelauan(s)
    adjective: Tokelauan
    Tokelauan 65.3%, part Tokelauan/Samoan 8.7%, part Tokelauan/Tuvaluan 6.9%, part Tokelauan/other Pacific islander 1.9%, part Tokelauan/European 1%, Samoan 6.7%, Tuvaluan 2.8%, other Pacific islander 1.1%, other 5.1%, unspecified 0.4% (2011 est.)
    Tokelauan 93.5% (a Polynesian language), English 58.9%, Samoan 45.5%, Tuvaluan 11.6%, Kiribati 2.7%, other 2.5%, none 4.1%, unspecified 0.6%
    note: shares sum to more than 100% because some respondents gave more than one answer on the census (2011 ests.)
    Congregational Christian Church 58.2%, Roman Catholic 36.6%, Presbyterian 1.8%, other Christian 2.8%, Spiritualism and New Age 0.1%, unspecified 0.5% (2011 est.)
    -0.01% (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 201
    urban population: 0% of total population (2015)
    rate of urbanization: 0% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
    total: NA
    male: NA
    female: NA
    total population: NA
    male: NA
    female: NA
    rural: 100% of population
    total: 100% of population
    rural: 0% of population
    total: 0% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 90.5% of population
    total: 90.5% of population
    rural: 9.5% of population
    total: 9.5% of population (2015 est.)
  • Government :: TOKELAU

  • conventional long form: none
    conventional short form: Tokelau
    etymology: "tokelau" is a Polynesian word meaning "north wind"
    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
    parliamentary democratic dependency (General Fono); a territory of New Zealand
    none; each atoll has its own administrative center
    time difference: UTC+13 (18 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
    none (territory of New Zealand)
    none (territory of New Zealand)
    Waitangi Day (Treaty of Waitangi established British sovereignty over New Zealand), 6 February (1840)
    many previous; latest effective 1 January 1949 (Tokelau Islands Act 1948); amended many times, last in 2007 (2016)
    common law system of New Zealand
    see New Zealand
    21 years of age; universal
    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 Jonathan KINGS (since February 2011)
    head of government: Siopili PEREZ (since 23 February 2015); note - position rotates annually among the 3 Faipule (village leaders)
    cabinet: the Council for the Ongoing Government of Tokelau functions as a cabinet; consists of 3 Faipule (village leaders) and 3 Pulenuku (village mayors)
    elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; administrator appointed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade in New Zealand; head of government chosen from the Council of Faipule to serve a 1-year term
    description: unicameral General Fono (20 seats apportioned by island - Atafu 7, Fakaofo 7, Nukunonu 6; members directly elected by simple majority vote to serve 3-year terms); note - the Tokelau Amendment Act of 1996 confers limited legislative power to the General Fono
    elections: last held on 23 January 2014 (next to be held in 2017)
    election results: independent 20
    highest court(s): Court of Appeal in New Zealand (consists of the court president and 8 judges sitting in 3- or 5-judge panels depending on the case)
    judge selection and term of office: judges nominated by the Judicial Selection Committee and approved by three-quarters majority of the Parliament; judges appointed for life
    subordinate courts: High Court, in New Zealand; Council of Elders or Taupulega
    PIF (associate member), SPC, UNESCO (associate), UPU
    none (territory of New Zealand)
    none (territory of New Zealand)
    a yellow stylized Tokelauan canoe on a dark blue field sails toward the manu - the Southern Cross constellation of four, white, five-pointed stars at the hoist side; the Southern Cross represents the role of Christianity in Tokelauan culture and, in conjunction with the canoe, symbolizes the country navigating into the future; the color yellow indicates happiness and peace, and the blue field represents the ocean on which the community relies
    tuluma (fishing tackle box); national colors: blue, yellow, white
    name: "Te Atua" (For the Almighty)
    lyrics/music: unknown/Falani KALOLO
    note: adopted 2008; in preparation for eventual self governance, Tokelau held a national contest to choose an anthem; as a territory of New Zealand, "God Defend New Zealand" and "God Save the Queen" are official (see New Zealand)
  • Economy :: TOKELAU

  • Tokelau's small size (three villages), isolation, and lack of resources greatly restrain economic development and confine agriculture to the subsistence level. 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.
    The people rely heavily on aid from New Zealand - about $15 million annually in FY12/13 and FY13/14 - to maintain public services. New Zealand's support amounts to 80% of Tokelau's recurrent government budget. An international trust fund, currently worth nearly $32 million, was established in 2004 by New Zealand to provide Tokelau an independent source of revenue.
    $1.5 million (1993 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 230
    $1,000 (1993 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 224
    agriculture: NA%
    industry: NA%
    services: NA%
    coconuts, copra, breadfruit, papayas, bananas; pigs, poultry, goats; fish
    small-scale enterprises for copra production, woodworking, plaited craft goods; stamps, coins; fishing
    440 (2001)
    country comparison to the world: 231
    revenues: $430,800
    expenditures: $2.8 million (1987 est.)
    1 April - 31 March
    $0 (2002 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 224
    stamps, copra, handicrafts
    $969,200 (2002 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 223
    foodstuffs, building materials, fuel
    New Zealand dollars (NZD) per US dollar -
    1.4279 (2015)
    1.2187 (2013)
    1.2187 (2013)
    1.23 (2012)
    1.263 (2011)
  • Energy :: TOKELAU

  • 0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)
    country comparison to the world: 197
  • Communications :: TOKELAU

  • total subscriptions: 300
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 21 (July 2010 est.)
    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 (2015)
    no TV stations; each atoll operates a radio service that provides shipping news and weather reports (2009)
    total: 805
    percent of population: 60.2% (July 2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 215
  • Transportation :: TOKELAU

  • none; offshore anchorage only
  • Military and Security :: TOKELAU

  • defense is the responsibility of New Zealand
  • Transnational Issues :: TOKELAU

  • Tokelau included American Samoa's Swains Island (Olosega) in its 2006 draft independence constitution