Australia-Oceania :: Tokelau
(territory of New Zealand)
page last updated on October 28, 2009
Flag of Tokelau
Location of Tokelau
Map of Tokelau
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
country comparison to the world: 240
land: 12 sq km
water: 0 sq km
about 17 times the size of The 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
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location 5 m
arable land: 0% (soil is thin and infertile)
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)
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 ::Tokelau
1,416 (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 232
0-14 years: 42%
15-64 years: 53%
65 years and over: 5% (2009 est.)
-0.011% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 203
NA (2009 est.)
urban population: 0% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 0% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
NA (2009 est.)
total: NA
male: NA
female: NA (2008 est.)
total population: NA
male: NA
female: NA
NA (2008 est.)
noun: Tokelauan(s)
adjective: Tokelauan
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
Tokelauan (a Polynesian language), English
total: 11 years
male: 10 years
female: 11 years (2004)
Government ::Tokelau
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Tokelau
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
none; each atoll has its own administrative center
time difference: UTC-11 (6 hours behind 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)
administered under the Tokelau Islands Act of 1948; amended in 1970
New Zealand and local statutes
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 David PAYTON (since 17 October 2006)
head of government: Foua TOLOA (since 21 February 2009); note - position rotates annually among the 3 Faipule (village leaders)
cabinet: the Council for the Ongoing Government of Tokelau, consisting of 3 Faipule (village leaders) and 3 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
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 to the General Fono
elections: last held 17-19 January 2008 (next to be held in 2011)
election results: independents 20
Supreme Court in New Zealand exercises civil and criminal jurisdiction in Tokelau
PIF (observer), SPC, UNESCO (associate), UPU
none (territory of New Zealand)
none (territory of New Zealand)
the flag of New Zealand is used
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 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.
$1.5 million (1993 est.)
country comparison to the world: 228
$1,000 (1993 est.)
country comparison to the world: 214
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
440 (2001)
country comparison to the world: 221
revenues: $430,800
expenditures: $2.8 million (1987 est.)
coconuts, copra, breadfruit, papayas, bananas; pigs, poultry, goats; fish
small-scale enterprises for copra production, woodworking, plaited craft goods; stamps, coins; fishing
NA kWh
NA kWh
$0 (2002)
country comparison to the world: 223
stamps, copra, handicrafts
$969,200 (2002)
country comparison to the world: 218
foodstuffs, building materials, fuel
New Zealand dollars (NZD) per US dollar - 1.4151 (2008 est.), 1.3811 (2007), 1.5408 (2006), 1.4203 (2005), 1.5087 (2004)
Communications ::Tokelau
300 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 228
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
AM NA, FM NA, shortwave NA (one radio station provides service to all islands) (2002)
360 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 177
800 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 215
Transportation ::Tokelau
none; offshore anchorage only
Military ::Tokelau
defense is the responsibility of New Zealand
Transnational Issues ::Tokelau
Tokelau included American Samoa's Swains Island (Olohega) in its 2006 draft constitution