On the outskirts of the Tongan Group, nearly 400 miles from Tongatabu, Niuafo´ou is about 3½ miles long by 3 miles wide. It is of volcanic origin
and has a long record of serious eruptions, in which parts of the island were devastated.
Following a violent eruption during September 1946 the 1330 inhabitants were moved and
eventually resettled at Eua Island, south of Tongatabu. Until September 1958 only a few workers had returned to the island but later that year over 200 ex-inhabitants returned and
started rebuilding their homes and villages.
From the air, Niuafo´ou resembles a large donut in shape, since the crater is a large lake, about 2½ miles across, which
lies in the crater of the vulcano. The lake water is brackish an unfit for drinking purpose.
There is no good anchorage at Niuafo´ou as the bottom is rocky and irregular and
slopes down steeply into deep water. At one time passing steamers would seal inward mail for the island in 40-lb. biscuit tins which were thrown overboard to be towed ashore by
waiting native "postmen". From this unique method of mail delivery the island became known as "Tin Can Island".