General issues: French protectorate 1920-1961, French overseas territory 1961-2003, French collectivity 2003-Present
Country name on general issues: Wallis & Futuna
Currency: 1 Franc = 100 Centimes 1920-Present
Population: 5 900 in 1900, 15 600 in 2015
Political history Wallis & Futuna
Wallis & Futuna is an island nation located in the central south Pacific Ocean. The country consists of two groups of islands located 230 kilometers apart: the Wallis Islands and the Horne – also spelled Horn or Hoorn – Islands. Wallis is the largest of the Wallis Islands and is now often called by its native name of Uvéa. Futuna is the largest of the Horne Islands and is the name often used to designate the Horne Islands. The indigenous population is Polynesian and organized ino small kingdoms. The Dutch were the first Europeans to explore Futuna in 1616. The British first explored Wallis a century and a half later in 1776. French missionaries were the first Europeans to settle on the islands in the mid 19th century.
In 1887, the kingdom of Uvéa on Wallis Island, upon its request, was granted French protection. The kingdoms of Sigave and Alo on Futuna and Alofi followed suit in 1888. The islands were, subsequently, joined to form the French protectorate of Wallis & Futuna and administered as a dependency of New Caledonia. The islands were of little strategic and economic importance to the French. They were administered through the local royalty with a French resident on Wallis – French administration was not represented on Futuna until 1959. The kingdoms requested to be annexed to France in 1913 but their request was, eventually, turned down by France in 1924.
During WWII, Wallis & Futuna remained loyal to the Vichy regime in metropolitan France – the Vichy regime collaborating with Germany. The Free French, led by Charles de Gaulle, planned to gain control of the islands in 1941, but the plans were not effected until just before United States forces started to set up military bases on Wallis in 1942. Thus, Wallis & Futuna was the last of the French possessions in Oceania to join the Free French. In 1959, through a referendum, the islands voted for association with France as a French overseas territory, which was effected in 1961. The status of the islands was changed to that of a French overseas collectivity in 2003.
Economically, little was done to develop the islands, although an attempt was made to develop coconut plantations in the early 20th century. Until today, the main activity on the islands is subsistence agriculture. The vast majority of the population – 97% – is Polynesian with a small minority of French descent. The population on Wallis is of Tongan descent and that of Futuna of Samoan descent. A large part of the population has emigrated to New Caledonia and, to a lesser extent, metropolitan France – more Wallisians and Futunians live in New Caledonia than on the islands themselves. The main population resides on the islands of Wallis and Futuna – Alofi currently has no permanent residents.
Postal history Wallis & Futuna
The first stamps for Wallis & Futuna were issued in 1920 – overprints on the issues of New Caledonia. Overprints were issued until 1940 – with the exception of a number of issues as part of the Grand SeriesOmnibus issues. for the French Empire that were issued inscribed ‘Wallis & Futuna’. During WWII, stamps were issued by the Vichy regime between 1941 and 1944 – the last issues appearing after the Free French gained control over the islands in 1942. As these were never put to use in Wallis & Futuna, only mint issues are listed in the catalogs. The Free French also issued stamps between 1941 and 1944 – the first issues appearing before the Free French had gained control over the islands. The issues for Wallis & Futuna have, in the modern era, been a blend of stamps with themes of local interest and themes aimed at the thematic collectors market.