Tokelau Cities

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Tokelau Cities by Population

0 cities shown of 0 total Tokelau cities that are over 1,000 in population...

Tokelau History

The name Tokelau is a Polynesian word meaning orth wind"". The islands were officially named the Union Islands and Union Group at unknown times. Tokelau Islands was adopted in 1946, which was contracted to Tokelau on 9 December 1976."

The change in usage between Tokelau Islands and Tokelau marks a slight shift in emphasis, with consequences in regional diplomacy, in that the term Tokelau Islands clearly and substantially refers to a geographical expression, that is, a range of islands, whatever else it may connote. Thus it is not necessarily controversial to refer to a range of islands by one name, even though politically they may come under two jurisdictions. Whereas Tokelau can be taken to refer more immediately to some concept of nationhood, arguably infusing increased meaning to the draft 2006 independence constitution of Tokelau which, controversially or not, defines Swains Island, currently part of American Samoa, as part of the national territory.

Tokelau comprises three atolls in the South Pacific Ocean between 171 and 173 W longitude and 8 and 10 S latitude, approximately midway between Hawaii and New Zealand. They lie about 500 km north of Samoa. The islands are Atafu, at one time known as the Duke of York Group, Nukunonu, also the Duke of Clarence Group, and Fakaofo, once Bowditch Island. Between them they comprise a land area of 10.8 km. There are no ports or harbours. Tokelau lies in the Pacific typhoon belt. A fourth island that is culturally, historically, and geographically, but not politically, part of the Tokelau chain is Swains Island, under United States control since about 1900 and administered as part of American Samoa since 1925. The island was claimed by the United States pursuant to the Guano Islands Act as were the other three islands of Tokelau, which claims were ceded to Tokelau by treaty in 1979. In the draft constitution of Tokelau subject to the Tokelauan self-determination referendum in 2006, Olohega is claimed as part of Tokelau, a claim surrendered in the same 1979 treaty which established a boundary between American Samoa and Tokelau.

Tokelau's claim to Swains is generally comparable to the Marshall Islands' claim to US-administered Wake Island, but the re-emergence of this somewhat dormant issue has been an unintended result of the United Nations' recent efforts to promote decolonization in Tokelau. Basically, Tokelauans have proved somewhat reluctant to push their national identity in the political realm: recent decolonization moves have mainly been driven from outside for ideological reasons. But at the same time, Tokelauans are reluctant to disown their common cultural identity with Swains Islanders who speak their language.

Tokelau is in a completely different time zone to most of New Zealand, being 10 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time rather than 12 hours in front, meaning a 22 hour time difference for much of the year for part of the year while Tokelau never participates). Tokelau is in the same time zone as the Cook Islands and Hawaii rather than neighbouring Samoa and American Samoa.

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