Introduction / History
The Wallis and Futuna Islands are a self-governing overseas territory of France. These two groups of islands are in the southwestern Pacific Ocean about 2500 miles east of Australia and about 2900 miles southwest of Hawaii. The two distinct groups of islands are located 200 miles apart and comprise 125 square miles of land providing a home for approximately 15,000 people (as of 2010). An astounding 60% of the population is reported to be under the age of 30 years (as of 2001). Two thirds of the inhabitants live on Wallis with the others living on Futuna. (2)
The Futuna island group was discovered by the Dutch in 1616 and Wallis by the British in 1767 but it was the French who declared a protectorate over the islands in 1842. In 1959, the inhabitants of both groups of islands voted to become a French overseas territory. (1)
Archeological excavations on Wallis have uncovered traces of civilization dating back to 1400 B.C. Fragments of lapita pottery found at the site indicate that the first arrivals were Austronesian. During the 15th century A.D., Tonga undertook a program of expansion in the South Pacific. The ruthless warriors of Tu'i Tonga conquered the south of Uvea in about 1450, after battles that are legendary. Although the island later obtained its independence from Tonga, descendants of the Tu'i Tonga formed the nobility of the country, under a chiefly title system that became fully established by the 17th century. (2)
Beginning somewhere around 1825, whaling and merchant vessels frequently traveled the waters near the islands and their ships would stop at Wallis to replenish supplies. In 1837, the first Marist missionaries arrived on the islands. As a result of their ministry, the entire population converted to Roman Catholicism by 1842. The missionaries played an important role in local society protecting the inhabitants from abuse and exploitation by the whalers and merchants. They also instituted laws applicable to the entire population such as the "Offisa" (Wallisian constitution of 1863). (2)
During the Second World War (May 1942), a regiment of U. S. Marines arrived in the archipelago to deny the islands to the Japanese. They were followed by a number of French forces some months later. The Allies thus established a strategic air base with up to 6,000 soldiers present at any given time. The Americans left at the conclusion of the war. The Islands became a French overseas territory in 1959. (2)
Where Are they Located?
These two groups of islands are located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean about 2500 miles east of Australia and about 2900 miles southwest of Hawaii. The two distinct groups of islands are located 200 miles apart and comprise 125 square miles of land providing a home for approximately 15,000 people (as of 2010). (1)
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Wallis and Futuna Islands have beaches, low-lying coastal land, hills, and mountains of volcanic origin. The maximum height of the mountains is 2500 feet. The climate is tropical with hot and rainy weather from November to April and a cooler and dryer season from May to October. (1)
There is little arable land and the islands can grow a small amount of vegetable crops. Deforestation has resulted in only small portions of the original forests remaining. This is the result of the continued use of wood as the main fuel source for the islands. The mountainous terrain of Futuna is particularly prone to erosion due to deforestation. There are no permanent settlements on Alofi because of the lack of natural fresh water. (1)
The economy is limited to traditional subsistence agriculture with about 80% of labor force earnings coming from agriculture (coconuts and vegetables), livestock (mostly pigs), and fishing. About 4% of the population is employed in government. Revenues also come from French Government subsidies, licensing of fishing rights to Japan and South Korea, import taxes, and remittances from expatriates in New Caledonia. (1)
There is no tourism established in the islands. As a result, the living conditions on the islands are not as modern as people from the western world are accustomed to. There are approximately 2500 landline telephones available on the islands but no mobile telephone service as of 2008. There is one AM radio station and two television stations. Internet connections are available but most are for the use of the government offices. Hotel accommodations are more basic than many western travelers would prefer. (1) (2)
There are two languages spoken in the islands and both are of Malayo-Polynesian derivation. French is spoken only by government employees. Very few if any non-native people live on the islands. Many native people are moving away from the islands for better opportunities at New Caledonia. There is a local currency in use and it fluctuates extensively. There are no military or political conflicts affecting the islands.(1)
What Are Their Beliefs?
Roman Catholicism is the only established religion on the islands.
What Are Their Needs?
Every nation needs to have the proper instruction and living example of Biblical Christianity. Proclamation of Biblical Christianity, scripture-oriented teaching, and discipleship need to be established and maintained on these islands.
People on these islands could likely benefit from tools, toiletries, and medicines that may not be readily available to them. Mosquito nets, insecticides, and building/repair supplies could also be beneficial. Education and medical missions to the islands could be a source of ministry offering opportunities for increased acceptance of outsiders into these remote areas.
* Pray for Biblical Christianity to be proclaimed on these islands.
* Pray for local converts to be prepared for ministry unto their neighbors.
* Pray for their protection and provision while they engage in spiritual warfare.
* Pray for God to raise up a people who will take the gospel message to neighboring islands and into other nations.
(1) Information used with permission from
(2) Information used with permission from
|Profile Source: Wallace Revels|