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  Introduction Back To Top

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 Back To Top

Land boundaries:
0 km

tropical; moderated by trade winds (April to November)

Map references:

Geographic coordinates:
9 00 S, 172 00 W

Natural resources:

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location 5 m

low-lying coral atolls enclosing large lagoons

Geography - note:
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

total: 10 sq km
land: 10 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Oceania, group of three atolls in the South Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand

101 km

Area - comparative:
about 17 times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC

Irrigated land:

Environment - current issues:
limited natural resources and overcrowding are contributing to emigration to New Zealand

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Natural hazards:
lies in Pacific typhoon belt

Land use:
arable land: 0% (soil is thin and infertile)
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
NA (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: NA
male: NA
female: NA (2008 est.)


Net migration rate:
NA (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:

1,433 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:

Population growth rate:
-0.011% (2008 est.)

Tokelauan (a Polynesian language), English

Death rate:
NA (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: NA
male: NA
female: NA (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 11 years
male: 10 years
female: 11 years (2004)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 42%
15-64 years: 53%
65 years and over: 5%

Birth rate:
NA (2008 est.)

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

noun: Tokelauan(s)
adjective: Tokelauan

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
none (territory of New Zealand)

National holiday:
Waitangi Day (Treaty of Waitangi established British sovereignty over New Zealand), 6 February (1840)

21 years of age; universal

Government type:

Political pressure groups and leaders:

Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (territory of New Zealand)

Dependency status:
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

International organization participation:
PIF (observer), SPC, UNESCO (associate), UPU

Legislative branch:
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 on the General Fono
elections: last held 17-19 January 2008 (next to be held in 2011)
election results: independents 20

Legal system:
New Zealand and local statutes

Flag description:
the flag of New Zealand is used

none (territory of New Zealand)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Tokelau

Political parties and leaders:

none; each atoll has its own administrative center
time difference: UTC-11 (6 hours behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)

administered under the Tokelau Islands Act of 1948; amended in 1970

Executive branch:
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: Pio TUIA (since 23 February 2008); note - position rotates annually among the three Faipule (village leaders)
cabinet: the Council for the Ongoing Government of Tokelau, consisting of three Faipule (village leaders) and three 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

Administrative divisions:
none (territory of New Zealand)

Judicial branch:
Supreme Court in New Zealand exercises civil and criminal jurisdiction in Tokelau

  Economy Back To Top

Electricity - consumption:
NA kWh

Unemployment rate:

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$1,000 (1993 est.)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$1.5 million (1993 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

Exchange rates:
New Zealand dollars (NZD) per US dollar - 1.4151 (2008 est.), 1.3811 (2007), 1.5408 (2006), 1.4203 (2005), 1.5087 (2004)

GDP - real growth rate:

Labor force:
440 (2001)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%

$0 (2002)

Currency (code):
New Zealand dollar (NZD)

Economy - overview:
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.

Imports - commodities:
foodstuffs, building materials, fuel

small-scale enterprises for copra production, woodworking, plaited craft goods; stamps, coins; fishing

Population below poverty line:

Electricity - production:
NA kWh

$969,200 c.i.f. (2002)

Currency code:

Exports - commodities:
stamps, copra, handicrafts

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

revenues: $430,800
expenditures: $2.8 million (1987 est.)

Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:

Telephones - main lines in use:
300 (2002)

Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM NA, FM NA, shortwave NA (one radio station provides service to all islands) (2002)

1,000 (1997)

Telephone system:
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

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2000)

Internet hosts:
273 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

Ports and terminals:
none; offshore anchorage only

  Military Back To Top

Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of New Zealand

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:
Tokelau included American Samoa's Swains Island (Olohega) in its 2006 draft constitution

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