The Wallis and Futuna Islands is a Polynesian French island territory (but not part of, or even contiguous with, French Polynesia) in the South Pacific between Fiji and Samoa. It is made up of three main volcanic tropical islands and a number of tiny islets. Since 2003 Wallis and Futuna has been a French overseas collectivity. 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. Pierre Chanel, canonized as a saint in 1954, is a major patron of the island of Futuna and the region. 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 has ancestral connections with Tonga while Futuna traces its roots to Samoa.
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