Although discovered by the Dutch and the British in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was the French who declared a protectorate over the islands in 1842. In 1959, the inhabitants of the islands voted to become a French overseas territory. There are still three ceremonial kingdoms within the territory: Alo, Sigave, Wallis.
The islands are volcanic in origin, with low hills, and fringing reefs. The highest point is Mont Singavi, at 765 m. The climate is tropical: hot, rainy season November to April; cool, dry season May to October; rains 2,500-3,000 mm per year 80% humidity; average temperature 26.6 degrees C.