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Tokelau - Attractions


Dubbed Duke of York Island by its first European visitor, British commodore John Byron, Atafu is the smallest and northernmost of Tokelau's three atolls. Its 42 islets measure a grand total of 3.5 sq km (1.3 sq mi), and the tiny lagoon is 17 sq km (6.5 sq mi); the population is around 500. Protestant Atafu is the most traditional of the three atolls, with rationed alcohol sales and a greater reliance on old-style dugout canoes. The island also has more traditional houses, largely due to its prized supply of building wood, kanava; these houses are increasingly being replaced by cyclone-proof concrete and corrugated-roofed housing.


Named Bowditch Island by an American expedition in 1841, Fakaofo's 62 islets measure 4 sq km (1.5 sq mi) and its lagoon is 50 sq km (20 sq mi). It's not the biggest of the three atolls, but it has the highest population, at around 580. Fakaofo has three churches to cater for its Protestant and Catholic inhabitants. Shady Fale Island is the major settlement, and some families have moved to adjacent Fenuafala to relieve some of the enormous population pressure. There's so little land that Fakaofo's domestic pig population is forced to live on the reef - let's hope they can swim! Fakaofo has a prime example of a traditional village hall, with the coral slab personifying the god Tui Tokelau still standing outside.


Nukunonu was named Duke of Clarence Island by Captain Edwards of HMS Pandora in 1791, while searching for HMS Bounty mutineers. It's the largest of the three atolls, with 24 islets measuring 4.7 sq km (1.8 sq mi) all up and the largest lagoon at 98 sq km (38 sq mi). Two motos are settled on Catholic Nukunonu, and the other feature of note is its extremely pragmatic village hall - a cargo shed.

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