Wallis and Futuna Flag

Wallis and Futuna Guide

Racing Canoes
Racing canoes on a southern Futuna beach.

The People

The 9,000 people on Wallis and 5,000 on Futuna are Polynesian: The Wallisians, or Uvéans, descended from Tongans, the Futunans from Samoans.

The Wallis Islanders are physically huge, bigger than Tongans. There's little mixing between the two groups and only about 100 Uvéans and Futunans live on the other island. Some 800 French expats reside on Wallis, but only 100 on Futuna. They have a small subdivision on Wallis named Afala on a hill just north of Mata-Utu.

Another 20,000 people from both islands live and work 2,500 km away in Nouméa, New Caledonia, and 2,800 more are in France.

Young Uvéans and Futunans often stay in New Caledonia after completing their compulsory military service, and many obtain employment in the nickel mining or construction industries. The many partially constructed or uninhabited dwellings on Wallis are a result of the migrations. Many residents still live in round-ended thatched fales. One compromise with the 21st century is the electric line entering through the peak of the roof. Property passes down through the female line.

Very little English is spoken on Wallis, and even less on Futuna, so a knowledge of French, Tongan, or Samoan makes life a lot easier. Wallisian and Futunan are distinct: Welcome is malo te kataki/malo le ma'uli in Wallisian/Futunan. Similarly, farewell said to someone leaving is alu la/ano la. Farewell said to someone staying is nofo la in both languages.