Archeological excavations in Wallis have uncovered sites dating back to 1400 BC. The Tongians arrived in the 15th century and took possession of the island after battles which have become legendary.
On 16th August 1767 the English navigator, Samuel Wallis, discovered the island of Uvea which was christened Wallis. In the 19th century many ships called at Wallis to take on fresh supplies. The first Marist missionaries, among whom was Father Bataillon (Wallis island) and Father Chanel (Futuna island), arrived in 1837. On 5th April 1842, the authorities in Wallis requested French protection. During the Second World War a regiment of American soldiers arrived in the archipelago in May 1942, followed by the Free French forces some months later. The Allies thus disposed of a strategic air base in the South Pacific.
Since the archipelago measures only 270 sq Km, many inhabitants of Wallis and Futuna were, in the 1950s, and for economic and demographic reasons, attracted to the plantations and mines of New Caledonia and the New Hebriddes (rebaptised Vanuatu). There is therefore acommunity of Wallisians in Noumea and over all the Caledonian territory, made up of approximately 17,000 people.