Flag of New Zealand

Map of 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.


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

Geographic coordinates:

9 00 S, 172 00 W


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

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


tropical; moderated by trade winds (April to November)


low-lying coral atolls enclosing large lagoons

Elevation extremes:

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

Natural hazards:

lies in Pacific typhoon belt

Environment - current issues:

very limited natural resources and overcrowding are contributing to emigration to New Zealand

Geography - note:

consists of three atolls, each with a lagoon surrounded by a number of reef-bound islets of varying length and rising to over three meters above sea level


1,405 (July 2004 est.)

Ethnic groups:



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

Dependency status:

self-administering territory of New Zealand; note - Tokelauans are drafting a constitution and developing institutions and patterns of self-government as Tokelau moves toward free association with New Zealand


none; each atoll has its own administrative center

National holiday:

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


administered under the Tokelau Islands Act of 1948, as amended in 1970

Legal system:

New Zealand and local statutes

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.

Exports - commodities:

stamps, copra, handicrafts

Exports - partners:

New Zealand (2000)

Imports - commodities:

foodstuffs, building materials, fuel

Imports - partners:

New Zealand (2000)

Economic aid - recipient:

from New Zealand about $4 million annually


New Zealand dollar (NZD)

Telephones - main lines in use:

300 (2002)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

0 (2001)

Telephone system:

general assessment: adequate
domestic: radiotelephone service between islands
international: country code - 690; radiotelephone service to Samoa; government-regulated telephone service (TeleTok), with 3 satellite earth stations, established in 1997


total: NA km
paved: NA km
unpaved: NA km

Ports and harbors:

none; offshore anchorage only

Merchant marine:



none; lagoon landings are possible by amphibious aircraft (2003 est.)