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Tokelau (anglicized as Tokelauan) treats both people, and their distinctive Polynesian language and also their homeland which consists of three atolls: Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo. Tokelau means "North" or "northeast" in many Polynesian languages, including their own, but it also was a name of outstanding god of the atolls of Tui of Tokelau. In 1841 the name "Union Islands" in which three atolls known then for the stranger gathered as the duke of York (Atafu), the duke Clarence (Nukunonu) and D'vulf or Boudich (Fakaofo) was called. These names were never used by tokelauanets, but there were "official" more than hundred years while three islands in 1948 weren't united with their local names by Tokelausky islands, and in 1976 just Tokelau.
Location. Atolls lie along a northwest southeast axis about 150 kilometers between 8 ° and 10 ° SL both 171 ° and 173 ° WL. The closest islands of any size are that are located in Western Samoa, approximately in 480 km to the South. Together atolls have the total area only about 12 square kilometers and are separated from each other on 60-90 kilometers of the high sea. All of them are true atolls: they have central lagoons which are completely surrounded with a coral reef which forms a basis of islands of sand and the coral detrit. Though the amount of precipitation makes from 250 to 280 centimeters a year, the rain can be scarce during the period from April to September that calls a drought, and tropical cyclones or swellings created by them at distance constitute danger during the period from December to March.
Demography. Contact estimates of the population strongly varied (500-1 000). Even the lowest figure was more than is half reduced in the 1860th years thanks to appearance of slave traders and dysentery. Since then population of atolls gradually and quickly increased, having reached in the mid-sixties 1900 people. After that it fell and was stabilized approximately for 1600 in the 1970-1980th years after rather heavy migration to New Zealand where in 1986 the population of Tokelau totaled about 3400 people. Though residents of Tokelau consider some other Polynesians and natives of Europe, only the person among the later ancestors, having (or married with people) Tokelau, are permanent residents of atolls.
Linguistic accessory. The Tokelau language is a member of samoaysky subgroup of Polynesian languages and is probably most closely connected with dialects of Tuvalu (Ellis). Until recently all tokelauanets were bilingual in Samoa, language of Christianity and literacy from which their own language borrowed the most part more than hundred years, saving at the same time own distinctive features.
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