Wallis (island)

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For the chiefdom of the island, see Uvea (Wallis and Futuna).
Kingdom of ʻUvea
Puleʻaga Hau ʻo ʻUvea
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité"
(Motto of France)
and largest city
13°16′S 176°12′W / 13.267°S 176.200°W / -13.267; -176.200
Official languages
Demonym Wallisian
Government Overseas collectivity
 -  King (Lavelua) Kapeliele Faupala
 -  Prime Minister (Kalae Kivalu) Setefano Hanisi
 -  Bishop of Diocese Ghislain de Rasilly
Traditional customary kingdom
 -  Overseas collectivity July 29, 1961 
 -  Total 96 km2 (211th)
29.93 sq mi
 -  Water (%) negligible
 -  2008 estimate 10,731
 -  Density 111,36/km2
149.9/sq mi
Currency CFP franc
Time zone (UTC+12)
Drives on the right
Calling code +681
Internet TLD .wf

Wallis (Wallisian: ʻUvea) is an island in the Pacific Ocean belonging to the French overseas collectivity (collectivité d'outre-mer, or COM) of Wallis and Futuna. The island is a small Polynesian kingdom with an aristocratic monarchy, ruled by the noble families called the "ʻAliki" through the Customary system, the "Puleʻaga Hau o Lavelua". ("Lavelua and his Kingdom"). The powers are shared between French Administration, Roman Catholic Church, and the Traditional System "Pule'aga Hau". The limits of each one are defined by the Territorial Statute of July 29, 1961, traditionally called "Statut 61" (Wallisian: Tohi Lao).


The island has an area of 77,5 km² and a circumference of c. 50 km. Its highest point is Mount Lulu Fakahega (131 m). There are also a handful of large lakes such as Lake Lalolalo, a sign of the island's volcanic origin, some of them almost perfect circles and with straight vertical walls, like Lalolalo, Lanu'tavake.

Uvea is located 240 km northeast of Futuna and Alofi islands. Together with some 15 smaller islands surrounding it, on its huge barrier reef, it forms the Wallis archipelago. Wallis has a fertile volcanic soil and sufficient rainfall to allow subsistence farming.

Uvea is subdivided into three districts (north to south):

Map of the Uvea Islands
  • Hihifo: 5 Villages : Vailala, Tufuone, Vaitupu, Malae, and Alele.
  • Hahake : 6 Villages : Liku, Aka'aka, Mata-Utu, Ahoa, Falaleu, and Ha'afuasia.
  • Mu'a : 10 Villages : Lavegahau, Tepa, Gahi, Ha’atofo, Mala’efo’ou, Kolopo, Halalo, Utufua, Vaimalau, and Teesi.
District ("meaning") Capital Area
(2003 census)
Hihifo ("West") Vaitupu 23.4 2422 5
Hahake ("East") Matāʻutu 27.8 3950 6
Mu'a ("First") Mala'efo'ouA 26.3 3699 10
'Uvea (Wallis) chiefdom Matāʻutu 77.5 10071 21

A Formerly called "Mua".

Sub-equatorial oceanic trade wind, hot and humid . The average temperature is around 26 °C (79 °F) all year round and there is almost never drops below 24 °C (75 °F), and in the rainy season is held in the mark 28–32 °C (82–90 °F).

Rainfall is 2500–3000 mm per year in 4000 to Wallis and Futuna mm . This rain is likely at least 260 days in a year, and the humidity is 80%. The rainy season lasts from November to April. For the same period (November to March) and the season of storms have associated with the passage over the territory of the islands of powerful tropical cyclones. A few more cool and dry season - May to October–December - due to the predominance of this period, the south- east trade winds .


Archaeological excavations have identified sites on Wallis dating from circa 1400 AD. It was part of the Tongan maritime empire from around the 13th to 16th century. By that time the influence of the Tuʻi Tonga had declined so much that ʻUvea became important in itself. Several current, high ranking Tongan titles, like Halaevalu, trace their descent from ʻUvea. A legendary large canoe, the Lomipeau, was built on the island as a donation to the Tuʻi Tonga. The big fortress of Talietumu close to Lotoalahi in Mua was the last holdout of the Tongans until they were defeated. The ruins of the place are still a tourist attraction:

The island was renamed "Wallis" after a Cornish navigator, Captain Samuel Wallis, who discovered it while sailing the HMS Dolphin on August 16, 1767, following his discovery of Tahiti.[1]

Ruins of the fortress of Talietumu

On 5 April 1842, the authorities of Wallis Island requested protection by France with a protectorate treaty signed in April 1887.[2]

During World War II the island's administration was pro-Vichy until a Free French corvette from New Caledonia deposed the regime on 26 May 1942. Units of the US Marine Corps landed on Wallis on 29 May 1942.[3]

After a referendum in 1959, Wallis became a French Overseas Territory in 1961.

Administration and institutions[edit]

ʻUvea (Wallis) is one of the three traditional kingdoms of Wallis and Futuna, the other two being Alo and Sigave in the Hoorn Islands (Futuna Islands). Its capital, Matāʻutu, located on the east coast, is also the capital of the whole territory, Wallis and Futuna. The kingdom is divided into three districts, which from north to south are Hihifo, Hahake and Mua.

The King of Uvea is called the "Lavelua". As Lavelua, he lives in the royal palace called "Sagato Soane". (Official Residence of the King of ʻUvea). In front of the Palace is the Sagato Soane's Square. (Mala'e Sagato Soane)

The King appoints the six ministers. Each Minister holds a noble title (established under the reign of the Queen Amelia) which corresponds to ancient great reigning lineage families. The King has to choose one from each family and this choice is often contested by other family members, although they are obliged to respect the decision. By order of precedence these are:

The Kalae Kivalu is the Chief of the Customary Council of Ministers and Prime Minister.

The King also appoints, on proposition of the populations, three chiefs for each district. They are called Faipule, and are responsible of Chief of villages (Pule Kolo or Aliki Kaifenua or Matapule "Tongan style"). They can raise the duties of general interest, and are established or discharged during general assemblies of village (Fono Fakakolo) with usually take place on Sunday after the morning mass in the "Falefono".


The population of the island was 10,071 in 2003 (67% of the territory's population). Most of the inhabitants speak ʻUvean (or Wallisian) as their mother tongue.

Culture and religion[edit]

Religion ("Lotu") and culture ("Aga'ifenua") are very close in Wallis. Everyday life is heavily influenced by Polynesian traditions and especially by the Roman Catholic Feasts. Each Village has its own Patron Saint. Each District has its Great Church. (the Chief Cathedral is Cathedral of Mata-Utu). Almost all the people are Roman Catholic ("Lotu Katolika"), and there are numerous religious buildings on the island.

At their arrival, Catholic missionaries were welcomed by the King Vaimua Lavelua then baptized "Soane-Patita Vaimua". Bishop Bataillon developed close relationships with the Royal Families, as Private Councellar of the Queen Amelia, he established in 1847 the "Lano Seminary". (First Catholic Seminary of Oceania). Lano celebrated 150 years in 1997, the Anniversary was also attended by Samoan Cardinal Pio Taofinu'u, who studied there in the 1940s, and big delegation from Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and New-Caledonia.

Wallis and Futuna was Established as Apostolic Vicariate in November 11, 1935 and promoted as Diocese June 21, 1966.


The only commercial flights that go to Wallis are operated by the New Caledonia based Aircalin. There is an Aircalin office in Matāʻutu in Hahake.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hawkesworth et al, Volume 1, p 498
  2. ^ http://www.discoverfrance.net/Colonies/Wallis_Futuna2.shtml
  3. ^ p.213 Rottman, Gordon L. U.S. Marine Corps World War II Order of Battle: Ground and Air Units in the Pacific War, 1939-1945 Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 13°16′S 176°12′W / 13.267°S 176.200°W / -13.267; -176.200