Tokelau is a territory of New Zealand in the South Pacific Ocean that consists of three tropical coral atolls (from the northwest, Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo, as well as Swains Island which is governed as part of American Samoa) with a combined land area of 10 km2 (4 sq mi) and a population of approximately 1,400. Its capital rotates yearly between the three atolls. Tokelau lies north of the Samoan Islands, Swains Island being the nearest, east of Tuvalu, south of the Phoenix Islands, southwest of the more distant Line Islands, and northwest of the Cook Islands.
The United Nations General Assembly designates Tokelau a Non-Self-Governing Territory. Until 1976, the official name was Tokelau Islands. It is a New Zealand territory, and is sometimes referred to by its older colonial name, the Union Islands.
The name Tokelau is a Polynesian word meaning "North Wind". The islands were named the Union Islands and Union Group by European explorers at an unknown time. Tokelau Islands was adopted as the name in 1946, and was contracted to Tokelau on 9 December 1976.