The atoll of Fakaofo, southernmost of the Tokelau Islands

Coordinates: 9°21′55″S 171°12′54″W / 9.36528°S 171.21500°W / -9.36528; -171.21500

Location of Fakaofo Atoll in the Pacific Ocean
Natives of Fakaofo; engraving after a drawing by Alfred Thomas Agate
Map of Fakaofo

Fakaofo, formerly known as Bowditch Island, is a South Pacific Ocean atoll located in the Tokelau Group. The actual land area is only about 3 km², consisting of islets on a coral reef surrounding a central lagoon of some 45 km². According to the 2006 census 483 people officially live on Fakaofo (however just 370 were present at census night). Of those present 70% belong to the Congregational Church and 22% to the Catholic Church.[1]


The main settlement on the island is Fale on Fale Islet, towards the western side of the atoll. Located two kilometres to the west of it is the relatively large Fenua Fala Islet, where a second settlement was established in 1960. Other islets in the group include Teafua, Nukumatau, Nukulakia, Fenua Loa, Saumatafanga, Motu Akea, Matangi, Lalo, and Mulifenua.

Fakaofo's Council of Elders is made up of citizens over the age of 60.

The island was sighted by the whale ship General Jackson in 1835, which returned in 1839. The island was named Bowditch (after Nathaniel Bowditch), this island was visited by the American ship USS Peacock (1813) which was part of the first American voyage of discovery  The United States Exploring Expedition (also known as "the Ex Ex" or "the Wilkes Expedition"), 1838–1842, United States Navy Lieutenant Charles Wilkes commanding. Nathaniel Bowditch (1773–1838) was a noted American navigator who wrote a famous two-volume encyclopedia of navigation and sailing that is still used and published today by the Defense Mapping Agency Topographic Center (DMATC). In "Twenty Years Before The Mast",[2] Charles Erskine wrote "The people found on this island had no knowledge of fire, which I believe, is the only instance of the kind on record." This book should not be confused with another book with a similar title by Richard Henry Dana, Jr., which tells about hide trading on the California coast in the early 19th century.

In a village on the island is a coral slab monument, personifying Tui Tokelau, a god once worshiped in the islands.

Between 1856 and 1979, the United States claimed that it held sovereignty over the island and the other Tokelauan atolls. In 1979, the U.S. conceded that Tokelau was under New Zealand sovereignty, and a maritime boundary between Tokelau and American Samoa was established by the Treaty of Tokehega.

List of islands

  1. Mulinefua
  2. Vini
  3. Motu Pelu
  4. Talapeka
  5. Te Lafu
  6. Palea
  7. Manumea
  8. Kavivave
  9. Heketai
  10. Motuloa
  11. Motu Akea
  12. Niue
  13. Fugalei
  14. Manuafe
  15. Otafi Loa
  16. Kaivai
  17. Nukuheheke
  18. Nukamahaga Lahi
  19. Tenki
  20. Pagai
  21. Matakitoga
  22. Vaiaha
  23. Falatutahi
  24. Lapa
  25. Hugalu
  26. Logotaua
  27. Tafolaelo
  28. Otano
  29. Akegamutu
  30. Te Loto
  31. Kapiomotu
  32. Metu
  33. Hakea Mahaga
  34. Pukava
  35. Hakea
  36. Te Kau Afua o Humu
  37. Nukulakia
  38. Te Papaloa
  39. Pataliga
  40. Nukumatau
  41. Fale
  42. Te Afua tau Lua
  43. Fenua Fala

See also


  1. "2006 Census Tabular Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-04-05.
  2. Erskine, Charles (1896). Twenty Years Before The Mast. Philadelphia, PA, USA: George W. Jacobs & Co.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fakaofo.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 10/1/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.