Wallis and Futuna is a French territory overseas. As a French territory, the French flag is the official flag of Wallis and Futuna. The French flag is a tricolored flag of red, white, and blue. The red symbolizes liberty, the white symbolizes equality, and the blue symbolizes fraternity. The symbolism on the French flag refers to the ideals of the French Revolution.
The islands of Wallis and Futuna have been inhabited by Polynesians for more than 3,000 years. More recently, the islands were discovered in 1616 by Dutch explorers. These Dutch explorers came up with the name Futuna. British explorers stumbled upon the islands in the year 1767. The British came up with the name Wallis. Interestingly enough, despite a Dutch and British prior claim, the islands were settled and claimed as a colony of France in 1842.
Officially, the islands were controlled by France until about 1888. The native inhabitants of Wallis and Futuna voted in 1959 to become an overseas French territory. In 1961, Wallis and Futuna became an overseas territory to France, and the French flag is the official flag as a result. In 2007, the island’s official designation was changed from French territory to “overseas community.”
While Wallis and Futuna use the French flag as its official flag, this territory boasts an unofficial flag as well. The unofficial flag of Wallis and Futuna has been relatively unchanged since its inception in the 19th century under the reign of King I.P. Lavelua. The flag has a red background. In the center of the flag, in front of the red background, is a Maltese cross. The red color symbolizes courage while the white color symbolizes purity of ideals. Found in the upper left corner of the flag is a small French flag, an homage to France and its affiliation with that country.
There exists one variation to the Wallis and Futuna flag. Instead of a traditional Maltese cross in the center of the flag, the variation consists of four inverted triangles. Each triangle has its apex angled toward the center. Three triangles are meant to symbolize three of the native kings of the islands while the fourth symbolizes France as an administrator.