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Updated: Sep 14, 2022

Home> Countries> Oceania> Tokelau

Country Name

Tokelau, known previously as the Union Islands and known officially as the Tokelau Islands.


Tokelau lies north of the Samoan Islands, east of Tuvalu, south of the Phoenix Islands, southwest of the more distant Line Islands, and northwest of the Cook Islands.

Tokelau is a dependent territory of New Zealand in the southern Pacific Ocean. It consists of three tropical coral atolls: Atafu, Nukunonu, and Fakaofo. In addition to these three, Swains Island, which forms part of the same archipelago, is the subject of an ongoing territorial dispute; it is currently administered by the United States as part of American Samoa.


Nukunonu is the largest atoll within Tokelau.

Reason for Naming the country

Tokelau is a word meaning "north wind" in the native Tokelau language. The Tokelau islands were named the Union Islands and Union Group by European explorers at an earlier time. Tokelau Islands was adopted as the islands’ official name in 1946. The name was officially shortened to Tokelau on 9 December 1976.


The flag was adopted on 7 September 2009. As Tokelau is a dependent territory of New Zealand, the flag of New Zealand has been used as the official flag for Tokelau, in May 2008 a unique flag and national emblem for Tokelau has been approved, This flag has not yet been widely used for official purposes, but an official launch of the new flag was planned for October 2009.

The flag has a