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Tuvalu is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean. With the exception of Vatican City, it is the independent nation with the fewest inhabitants. Due to their low elevation, the islands that make up this nation are threatened by any future sea level rise.

(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: Tuvalu mo te Atua (Tuvaluan: "Tuvalu for the Almighty")
Official languages Tuvaluan, English
Capital Funafuti
QueenElizabeth II
Prime ministerSaufatu Sopoanga
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 191st
26 kmē
 - Total (Year)
 - Density
Ranked 190th
IndependenceOctober 1, 1978
Currency Tuvaluan dollar
Time zone UTC +12
National anthem Tuvalu mo te Atua
Internet TLD.TV
Calling Code688

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Islands
4 Geography
5 Economy
6 Demographics
7 Culture
8 Miscellaneous topics
9 External links


Main article: History of Tuvalu

Tuvalu, inhabited since the beginning of the first millennium BC, was first visited by Europeans in 1568, with the arrival of Alvaro de Mendana y Neyra from Spain. Although no settlements were established, slave traders and whalers came to the islands infrequently. In 1892, the islands became part of the British protectorate of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, with Tuvalu being called the Ellice Islands. The protectorate became a colony in 1915.

In 1974, ethnic differences within the colony caused the Polynesians of the Ellice Islands to vote for separation from the Micronesians of the Gilbert Islands (later Kiribati). The following year, the Ellice Islands became the separate British colony of Tuvalu. Independence was granted in 1978.


Main article: Politics of Tuvalu

Tuvalu is a constitutional monarchy within the British Commonwealth, with Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state. She is represented in Tuvalu by a Governor-General, who is appointed upon the advice of the prime minister.

The local parliament, or Fale I Fono has 12 members and is chosen every 4 years. Its members elect a prime minister, who is the head of government.


Main article: Islands of Tuvalu

Although Tuvalu technically has no administrative subdivisions - its population is too small - the country can be divided into 9 islands, or rather atolls. Originally, only eight of these islands were inhabited, hence the name Tuvalu, which means "eight islands" in Tuvaluan language. The nine islands are:


Main article:
Geography of Tuvalu

Being one of the smallest countries in the world, Tuvalu also has very poor lands. There is almost no potable water, and the soil is hardly usable for agriculture.

In 2001, Tuvalu's government announced that the islands, whose highest point is 5 m above sea level, may need to be evacuated in the event of rising sea levels. New Zealand has agreed to accept an annual quota of evacuees, while Australia has refused the Tuvaluans' petitions, presumably based on that country's rejection of the underlying basis of the Kyoto Protocol.


Main article: Economy of Tuvalu

Tuvalu has almost no natural resources, and its main form of income consists of foreign aid. Main industries are fishing and tourism, even though due to the remote location of the islands only a small number of tourists arrive annually.

Government revenues largely come from the sale of stamps and coins and worker remittances. About 1,000 Tuvaluans work in Nauru in the phosphate mining industry. Nauru has begun repatriating Tuvaluans, however, as phosphate resources decline. Substantial income is received annually from an international trust fund established in 1987 by Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom and supported also by Japan and South Korea. Thanks to wise investments and conservative withdrawals, this Fund has grown from an initial $17 million to over $35 million in 1999. The US government is also a major revenue source for Tuvalu, with 1999 payments from a 1988 treaty on fisheries at about $9 million, a total which is expected to rise annually. In an effort to reduce its dependence on foreign aid, the government is pursuing public sector reforms, including privatization of some government functions and personnel cuts of up to 7%.

In 1998, Tuvalu began deriving revenue from use of its area code for "900" lines and from the sale of its ".tv" Internet domain name. In 2000, Tuvalu negotiated a contract leasing its Internet domain name ".tv" for $50 million in royalties over the next dozen years. Royalites from these new technology sources could raise GDP three or more times over the next decade. Low-lying Tuvalu is particularly vulnerable to any rise in the sea level from future global warming.

The Tuvalu dollar, the local currency, is coupled to the Australian dollar.


Main article: Demographics of Tuvalu

The small population of Tuvalu is almost entirely of Polynesian ethnicity. About 97% of the Tuvaluans is a member of the Church of Tuvalu, a Protestant Christian church. The religion has been mixed with some elements of the indigenous religions.

The Tuvaluan language is spoken by virtually everybody, while I-Kiribati is spoken by some people on Nui. English is also an official language, but is not spoken in daily use.


Main article: Culture of Tuvalu

The traditional community system still to a large extent still survives on Tuvalu. Each family has its own task, or salanga, to perform for the community, such as fishing, house building or defence. The skills of a family are passed on from father to son.

Miscellaneous topics

External links

Countries of the world  |  Oceania