Land shortages have long forced emigration from Tokelau, and most of the country’s people live overseas, predominantly in Samoa, New Zealand and Australia. Consisting only of low-lying coral atolls rising to a maximum of 5m, Tokelau faces great risk from global warming. It is predicted that all three atolls will be uninhabitable by the end of the 21st century, though some estimates give only another 30 years. While some Tokelauans regard these predictions as overly dramatic, others foresee the end to their 1000-year-old history.
On a more positive note, Tokelau is now completely self-sufficient in its energy needs through sustainable sources. A pilot program in solar energy on Fakaofo was such a success that the people of Tokelau extended it to the other atolls. Since 2012 the islanders have been generating 150% of their energy needs form the sun, saving the NZ$829,000 the country was spending annually on imported fuels.
Jaws fans rejoice: in 2011 Tokelau declared its surrounding Exclusive Economic Zone (319,031 sq km of ocean) a sanctuary for sharks.