Wallis and Futuna, officially the Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands (Wallis-et-Futuna or Territoire des îles Wallis-et-Futuna, Fakauvea and Fakafutuna: Uvea mo Futuna), is a French island collectivity in the South Pacific between Tuvalu to the northwest, Fiji to the southwest, Tonga to the southeast, Samoa to the east, and Tokelau to the northeast. Though both French and Polynesian, Wallis and Futuna is distinct from the entity known as French Polynesia.
Its land area is 142.42 km2 with a population of about. Mata-Utu is the capital and biggest city. The territory is made up of three main volcanic tropical islands along with a number of tiny islets, and is split into two island groups that lie about 260 km apart, namely the Wallis Islands (Uvea) in the northeast, and the Hoorn Islands (also known as the Futuna Islands) in the southwest, including Futuna Island proper and the mostly uninhabited Alofi Island.
Since 2003, Wallis and Futuna has been a French overseas collectivity (collectivité d'outre-mer, or COM). Between 1961 and 2003, it had the status of a French overseas territory (territoire d'outre-mer, or TOM), though its official name did not change when the status changed.
Polynesians settled the islands that would later be called Wallis and Futuna around the year 1000 AD/CE, when the Tongan Empire expanded into the area. The original inhabitants built forts and other identifiable ruins on the islands, some of which are still partially intact.
Futuna was first put on the European maps by Willem Schouten and Jacob Le Maire during their circumnavigation of the globe in 1616. They named the islands "Hoornse Eylanden" after the Dutch town of Hoorn where they hailed from. This was later translated into French as "Isles de Horne." The French were the first Europeans to settle in the territory, with the arrival of French missionaries in 1837, who converted the population to Roman Catholicism. Pierre Chanel, canonized as a saint in 1954, is a major patron of the island of Futuna and the region. The Wallis Islands are named after the British explorer, Samuel Wallis, who sailed past them in 1767 after discovering Tahiti.
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 kingdoms were annexed to France and turned into the Colony of Wallis and Futuna, which was still under the authority of the Colony of New Caledonia.
During World War II, the islands' 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.
In 1959, the inhabitants of the islands voted to become a French overseas territory, effective in 1961, thus ending their subordination to New Caledonia.
In 2005, the 50th King of Uvea, Tomasi Kulimoetoke II, faced being deposed after giving sanctuary to his grandson who was convicted of manslaughter. The King claimed his grandson should be judged by tribal law rather than by the French penal system. There were riots in the streets involving the King's supporters, who were victorious over attempts to replace the King. Two years later, Tomasi Kulimoetoke died on 7 May 2007. The state was in a six-month period of mourning. During this period, mentioning a successor was forbidden. On 25 July 2008, Kapiliele Faupala was installed as King despite protests from some of the royal clans.