Tokelau is a word meaning "north wind" in the native Tokelau language. The Tokelau islands were named the Union Islands and Union Group by European explorers at an earlier time.[14] Tokelau Islands was adopted as the islands’ official name in 1946. The name was officially shortened to Tokelau on 9 December 1976.[15] 

Tokelau has increased its GDP by more than 10% through registrations of domain names under its top-level domain, .tk.[71] Registrations can be either free, in which case the user owns only usage rights and not the domain itself, or paid, which grants full rights. Free domains are pointed to Tokelau name servers, which redirects the domain via HTML frames to a specified address or to a specified A or NS record, and the redirection of up to 250 email addresses to an external address (not at a .tk domain).

In September 2003 Fakaofo became the first part of Tokelau with a high-speed Internet connection. Foundation Tokelau financed the project. Tokelau gives most domain names under its authority away to anyone for free to gain publicity for the territory. This has allowed the nation to gain enhanced telecommunications technologies, such as more computers and Internet access for Tokelauan residents. By 2012, there were about 120 computers, mostly laptops, and 1/6th of the economy consists of income from .tk domain names.[72]

According to a 2016 analysis of domain name registration performed by the .uk registrar Nominet using data from ZookNIC,[73] tk domains are the "world's largest country-code domain ... almost as large as second and third place holders China (.cn) and Germany (.de) combined".[74]

Healthcare and education[edit]

Main article: Healthcare in Tokelau

Literacy by age in Tokelau, 2011 census

Each atoll has a school and hospital. The health services have a Director of Health in Apia and a Chief Clinical Advisor who moves from atoll to atoll as required to assist the doctors attached to each hospital. In 2007 there was not always a doctor on each island and locums were appointed to fill the gaps.

Many Tokelauan youth travel to New Zealand to further their education and Tokelau is most populated around the Christmas season, with students returning home and then heading off for another year of study.