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Like the nearby West Futuna, it is a Polynesian outlier, and thus its inhabitants originally came from Samoa, and the Wallis and Futuna group instead of the Melanesians of other nearby islands, although there has been much intermarriage with Tanna over the generations. The language of both islands is Futunan, in the Futunic branch of Nuclear Polynesian languages, though the dialects between the two islands are distinct. 

The population is just under 400 in five distinct villages:

  • Itamotou
  • Imalé
  • Isavaï
  • Ikaokao
  • Namsafoura

The main village is Ikaokao, located in the centre of the south of the island, followed by Isavai in the islands' centre. The John Frum cargo cult exists in Ikaokao and is unaffected by the touristic involvement that has modified the cult in Tanna.

Traditional Fishing

Aniwa has a special tradition of catching a special fish called, only men are doing the fishing at night. When they are ready to go fishing no body is allowed to know where they are going because it will cause them bad luck. When the men are ready to go fishing on their canoes, they are not allowed to make any noise, the custom fishes that they caught are very big and when they are brought home, they are not allowed to cut them or cooked them on the pot, the fishes are only baked on the stone.