Wallis and Futuna are located due north of Fiji, where they are occasionally frequented by visitors, regularly abandoned by locals in search of jobs and peppered with a generous offering of French food and champagne. You could call it a slice of France in the Pacific if French Polynesia hadn't taken the title already. It's the second - the forgotten - slice, one of typical Pacific beauty and aquatic pleasures.
The first missionary to Futuna, one Pierre Chanel, was martyred four years into his evangelical run. His work was done though: the first Oceanian nation to martyer a missionary has transformed into a devoutly religious entity where church buildings spring up like palm trees. These beautiful churches provide for one of the highlights of travel to Wallis and Futuna.
Although the Dutch and the British were the European discoverers of the islands in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was the French who were the first Europeans to settle in the territory, with the arrival of French missionaries in 1837, who converted the population to Roman Catholicism. Wallis is named after the British explorer, Samuel Wallis. On 5 April 1842, the missionaries asked for the protection of France after the rebellion of a part of the local population. On 5 April 1887, the queen of Uvea (on the island of Wallis) signed a treaty officially establishing a French protectorate. The kings of Sigave and Alo on the islands of Futuna and Alofi also signed a treaty establishing a French protectorate on 16 February 1888. The islands were put under the authority of the French colony of New Caledonia. In 1917, the three traditional chiefdoms were annexed to France and turned into the Colony of Wallis and Futuna, still under the authority of the Colony of New Caledonia. In 1959, the inhabitants of the islands voted to become a French overseas territory, effective in 1961, thus ending their subordination to New Caledonia.
Wallis and Futuna is located about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand, at 13°18′S 176°12′W (360 kilometres west of Samoa and 480 kilometres northeast of Fiji. The territory includes the island of Uvéa (the most populous), the island of Futuna, the essentially uninhabited island of Alofi (the population of Alofi was reportedly eaten by the cannibal people of Futuna in one single raid in the 19th century), and 20 uninhabited islets, totaling 274 square kilometres with 129 kilometres of coastline. The highest point in the territory is Mont Puke (on the island of Futuna) at 524 metres. Only five percent of the islands' land area is arable land; permanent crops cover another 20%. Deforestation (only small portions of the original forests remain), largely as a result of the continued use of wood as the main fuel source, is a serious problem; as a consequence of cutting down the forests, the mountainous terrain of Futuna is particularly prone to erosion. There are no permanent settlements on Alofi because of the lack of natural fresh water resources.
The Wallis and Futuna Islands are split into two groups lying about 260 kilometres apart.
Talietumu consists of the remains of a fortified Tongan settlement on Wallis Island established around 1450. It forms an enormous and beautifully restored archaeological site and there is a wide defensive wall with entrance passages surrounding green lawns, large platforms and a circular stockade base. The stone paved roads you will see at Talietumu only were used by the king, because his feet couldn't touch the solid ground.
The Pierre Chanel Church is located close to some quiet villages northwest of Futuna's airport. The famous church is in desperate need of some restoring of the exterior. The interior on the other hand is beautifuly decorated with white and brown tapa. The chapel is decored with relics of the saint who was killed in 1841 and was declared the patron saint of Oceania in 1954. To add, you can also witness a wooden statue of Chanel at the front door.
Situated on the island of Wallis, Lake Lalolalo is an impressive circular lake with with sheer walls on Wallis Island. It is the most spectacular of the Wallis crater lakes and forms a perfect circle with cliffs towering 30 metres above the surfact of the lake. The water of Lake Lalolalo is 80 metres deep in some places. Add to this many species of tropical birds above the surface. The lake is surrounded by preserved primary forest thus making the tropical paradise complete.
Numerous festivals are celebrated in Wallis and Futuna throughout the year; on St Chanel Day, pigs are roasted and placed in the sun, and dancing performances are held. The Wallis and Futuna Festival is put on in Noumea annually. Flae fones are community feasting and meeting structures.
Known for their sword dance, the people of Wallis and Futuna are stated to be "excellent dancers". There are at least 16 types of dances (faive), their differences based upon location, occasion, number of dancers, gender, accompanying instruments, and other modifiers. Most dances are accompanied by singing and some type of percussion instruments as dancing without drumming is considered unusual. The kailao (paddle-club dance), however, has no song and only includes percussion. Wallis and Futuna dancers perform across the Oceania region at festivals.
The Wallis and Futuna Islands has a tropical climate typical for the Pacific. Temperatures during the day average a pleasant 28 °C to 30 °C and drop to around 24 °C at night. Temperatures variations on Wallis are smaller than on Futuna, where the wintermonths of April to October are slightly cooler, both during the day and at night. This is also the driest period, although you can't really speak of a dry and a wet season, it is just a bit drier during these months with rain possible on 20 to 25 days a year, compared to 25 to 29 days from November to March, the wetter season. From January to March, the occasional hurricane (typhoon) might strike the islands, but years can go by withouth one.
The main international airport is on the island of Wallis. There are flights from here to both French Polynesia and New Caledonia with Aircalin, the national carrier of the latter country.
The only way to reach the islands by sea, is to hop on a cargo ship that visits the island once every few weeks or to be lucky enough to get a bed on a private yacht. No regular ferries nor cruisehips go to the Wallis and Futuna Islands.
Aircalin makes about 5 trips a week between Wallis and Futuna, making this the best way to travel between the two islands.
The only way to get around on Wallis and Furtuna Islands is by car and you can rent one on both islands.
Public transport is non-existent.
You can travel by cargo ship between the two main island of Wallis and Futuna, or hope to hop on a yacht.
Roughly the same requirements as for France, although a Schengen Visa is not valid here of course.
See also Money Matters
The CFP franc is the currency used in Wallis and Futuna. The initials CFP originally stood for Colonies Françaises du Pacifique but now means Change Franc Pacifique. New Caledonia and French Polynesia also use the CFP franc and they can be used in all three states.
It is subdivided into 100 centimes. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 franc. Banknotes include the 500, 1000, 5000 and 10,000 ones.
All banknotes are identical in all three states. The coins on the other hand, have one side which is identical and one side where the inscription of the respective country (New Caledonia also applies to Wallis and Futuna by the way) can be found.
The official language os French. The local languages are Uvean and Futunan.
Staple foods in Wallis and Futuna include cassava, taro, sweet potatoes, yams and breadfruit. Bread and fish are also eaten. A traditional earth oven, or umu, is used for cooking chicken and pork on special occasions. Fruits grown are bananas, coconuts, mangoes, papayas, pineapples and citrus fruits.
Kava is a traditional Polynesian drink.
See also Travel Health
There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Wallis and Futuna Islands. There is one exception though. You need a yellow fever vaccination if you have travelled to a country (7 days or less before entering Wallis and Futuna Islands) where that disease is widely prevalent.
It's a good thing to get your vaccinations in order before travelling to Wallis and Futuna Islands. The general vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) is recommended. Also a hepatitis A vaccination is recommended and when travelling longer than 2 weeks also typhoid. Vaccination against hepatitis B is also sometimes recommended for stays longer than 3 months.
Dengue sometimes occurs as well. There is no vaccinations, so buy mosquito repellent (preferably with 50% DEET), and sleep under a net. Also wear long sleeves if possible.
Finally, other possible health issues include diarrhea and other general travellers' diseases like motion sickness. Watch what you eat and drink and in case you get it, drink plenty of fluids (to prevent dehydration) and bring ORS.
See also Travel Safety
See also International Telephone Calls
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