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Tuvalu, formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is a Polynesian island nation in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia, east-northeast of the Solomons’ Santa Cruz Islands, southeast of Nauru, south of Kiribati, west of Tokelau, northwest of Samoa and Wallis and Futuna, and north of Fiji. It consists of three reef islands and six genuine atolls located between 5° and 10° south latitude and 176° to 180° longitude west of the International Date Line. Tuvalu’s population is 10,640 people (2012 census). Tuvalu’s islands have a total land area of 26 square kilometers (10 sq mi).

Tuvalu’s earliest residents were Polynesians. Polynesians are said to have expanded out from Samoa and Tonga into the Tuvaluan atolls, with Tuvalu serving as a stepping stone to migration into the Polynesian Outlier settlements in Melanesia and Micronesia.

During his voyage in pursuit of Terra Australis in 1568, Spanish sailor lvaro de Mendaawa was the first European to sail through the archipelago, seeing the island of Nui. Funafuti Island was renamed Ellice’s Island in 1819, and the name Ellice was given to all nine islands following the work of English hydrographer Alexander George Findlay. The islands fell under British control in the late nineteenth century, when Captain Gibson of HMS Curacoa proclaimed each of the Ellice Islands a British Protectorate between 9 and 16 October 1892. From 1892 to 1916, the Ellice Islands were governed as a British protectorate by a Resident Commissioner as part of the British Western Pacific Territories (BWPT), and then from 1916 to 1974 as part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony.

In December 1974, a vote was conducted to decide whether the Gilbert and Ellice Islands should each have their own government. As a result of the referendum, the colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands ceased to exist on January 1, 1976, and the independent British colonies of Kiribati and Tuvalu were established. Tuvalu gained complete independence from the Commonwealth on October 1, 1978. Tuvalu became the 189th member of the United Nations on September 5, 2000.


Tourism is insignificant in the nation due to its remoteness. In 2010, there were 1,684 visitors, with 65 percent on business, development officials, or technical consultants, 20 percent vacationers (360 individuals), and 11 percent expats returning to see relatives.

Because Funafuti International Airport is Tuvalu’s only airport and the island has hotel amenities, the main island of Funafuti is the center of visitors. Ecotourism is a draw for visitors to Tuvalu. The Funafuti Conservation Area spans 12.74 square miles (33.00 square kilometers) and includes ocean, reef, lagoon, channel, and six uninhabited islands.

The outlying atolls are accessible through the two passenger-cargo ships Nivaga II and Man Folau, which make round-trip trips to the outer islands every three or four weeks. On several of the outlying islands, there is guesthouse lodging.


Tuvalu is made up of three reef islands and six atolls. Its tiny, dispersed collection of atolls has poor soil and a total land area of just approximately 26 square kilometers (10 square miles), making it the world’s fourth smallest nation. The atolls are made up of low-lying islands. Funafuti, Nanumea, Nui, Nukufetau, Nukulaelae, and Vaitupu are reef islands, whereas Nanumanga, Niutao, and Niulakita are genuine atolls. Tuvalu’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) encompasses about 900,000 km2 of water.

Funafuti is the biggest atoll of the Tuvalu volcanic island chain’s nine low reef islands and atolls. It is made up of many islands that cluster around a central lagoon that measures about 25.1 kilometers (15.6 miles) (N–S) by 18.4 kilometers (11.4 miles) (W–E) and is centered on 179°7’E and 8°30’S. An annular reef ring surrounds the lagoon on the atolls, with numerous natural reef channels. In May 2010, surveys of the reef habitats of Nanumea, Nukulaelae, and Funafuti were conducted, and a total of 317 fish species were documented during this Tuvalu Marine Life research. The studies discovered 66 previously unknown species in Tuvalu, bringing the total number of recognized species to 607.


Tuvalu has two different seasons: the rainy season, which lasts from November to April, and the dry season, which lasts from May to October. From October to March, the weather is dominated by westerly gales and torrential rain, known as Tau-o-lalo, with tropical temperatures tempered by easterly winds from April to November.

Tuvalu is affected by El Nio and La Nia, which are produced by variations in ocean temperatures in the equatorial and central Pacific. El Nio influences enhance the likelihood of tropical storms and cyclones, while La Nia influences increase the likelihood of drought. Tuvalu’s islands typically get 200 to 400 mm (8 to 16 in) of rainfall each month. However, a mild La Nia influence produced a drought in 2011 by chilling the sea surface near Tuvalu. On September 28, 2011, a state of emergency was proclaimed, with fresh water restrictions on the islands of Funafuti and Nukulaelae. On Funafuti and Nukulaelae, households were limited to two buckets of fresh water each day (40 litres).

The Australian and New Zealand governments reacted to the 2011 fresh-water crisis by providing temporary desalination units and assisting in the restoration of an existing desalination unit given by Japan in 2006. As part of its Pacific Environment Community (PEC) initiative, Japan financed the acquisition of a 100 m3/d desalination plant and two portable 10 m3/d units in response to the 2011 drought. Water tanks were also supplied as part of the longer-term solution for storing accessible fresh water by aid initiatives from the European Union and Australia.

The drought-causing La Nia event ended in April–May 2012. The central Pacific Ocean transitions from La Nia to El Nio; in June 2015, the Tuvalu Meteorological Service reported that an El Nio event has arrived in Tuvalu.


The population was 9,561 at the time of the 2002 census, and 10,640 at the time of the 2012 census. The population was estimated to be 10,869 in 2015. Tuvalu’s population is mainly Polynesian, with Micronesians accounting for about 5.6 percent of the population.

Tuvalu women have a life expectancy of 68.41 years, while men have a life expectancy of 64.01 years (2015 est.).

 The country’s population is growing at a 0.82 percent annual pace (2015 est.). The net migration rate is projected to be 6.81 migrants per 1,000 people (2015 est.) The danger of global warming does not seem to be a major incentive for migration in Tuvalu, since Tuvaluans tend to prefer to remain on the islands for reasons of lifestyle, culture, and identity.

Between 1947 and 1983, a number of Tuvaluans from Vaitupu moved to Kioa, a Fijian island.

Tuvaluan immigrants were granted Fijian citizenship in 2005. In recent years, the main destinations for migration or seasonal employment have been New Zealand and Australia.

In 2014, the New Zealand Immigration and Protection Tribunal heard an appeal against the deportation of a Tuvaluan family on the grounds that they were “climate change refugees” who would endure hardship as a consequence of Tuvalu’s environmental deterioration. However, the family’s subsequent residence permits were granted on reasons unconnected to the refugee claim. The family was successful in their appeal because there were “exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian nature” that justified the grant of resident permits because the family was integrated into New Zealand society with a sizable extended family that had effectively relocated to New Zealand, according to the relevant immigration legislation. Indeed, the New Zealand High Court ruled in 2013 that a Kiribati man’s claim to be a “climate change refugee” under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees was unsustainable since there was no persecution or severe injury linked to any of the five required Refugee Convention grounds. Permanent migration to Australia and New Zealand, such as for family reunion, requires conformity with those nations’ immigration laws.

As stated in 2001, New Zealand has an annual limit of 75 Tuvaluans given work visas under the Pacific Access Category. Applicants register for the Pacific Access Category (PAC) votes; the main requirement is that the primary applicant have an employment offer from a New Zealand company. Tuvaluans may also find seasonal work in New Zealand’s horticulture and viticulture sectors, according to the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Work Policy, which was implemented in 2007 and allows for the hiring of up to 5,000 employees from Tuvalu and other Pacific islands. Tuvaluans may participate in the Australian Pacific Seasonal Worker Program, which enables Pacific Islanders to find seasonal work in Australia’s agricultural sector, namely cotton and cane operations; fishing industry, specifically aquaculture; and tourist accommodation providers.


Tuvalu’s state church is the Congregational Christian Church of Tuvalu, which belongs to the Reformed tradition. Its followers account for about 97 percent of the archipelago’s 10,837 people (as of the 2012 census). Tuvalu’s official religion is the Church of Tuvalu, but in reality this just gives it to “the privilege of conducting special services on important national occasions.” Tuvalu’s constitution guarantees religious freedom, including the right to practice, the right to change religion, the right not to receive religious instruction or attend religious ceremonies at school, and the right not to “take an oath or make an affirmation that is contrary to his religion or belief.”

The Roman Catholic community is serviced by Funafuti’s Mission Sui Iuris. Other faiths practiced in Tuvalu include Seventh-day Adventist (1.4%), Bahá’ (1%) and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (0.4 percent ).

The arrival of Christianity put a stop to the worship of ancestor spirits and other deities (animism), as well as the power of the vaka-atua (the priests of the old religions). The objects of devotion differ from island to island, according to Laumua Kofe, but ancestor worship is characterized as widespread practice by Rev. D.J. Whitmee in 1870. Tuvaluans continue to revere their forefathers in the framework of their strong Christian religion.


Tuvalu was one of the best-performing Pacific Island economies from 1996 to 2002, with an average real GDP growth rate of 5.6 percent per year. Economic development has slowed since 2002, with GDP increasing by 1.5 percent in 2008. Tuvalu was subjected to significant increases in global gasoline and food costs in 2008, with inflation peaking at 13.4 percent. According to the International Monetary Fund’s 2010 Report on Tuvalu, Tuvalu’s GDP increased by zero percent in 2010, after a two-percentage-point contraction in 2009. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Executive Board completed the Article IV consultation with Tuvalu on August 5, 2012, and evaluated the Tuvaluan economy: “Tuvalu is slowly recovering, but there remain significant concerns. For the first time since the global financial crisis, GDP increased in 2011, driven by the private retail sector and education expenditure. We anticipate that development will be gradual “.. According to the IMF’s 2014 Country Report, Tuvalu’s real GDP growth has been erratic, averaging just 1% over the last decade. According to the 2014 Country Report, economic development prospects are generally favorable as a consequence of significant earnings from fishing permits, as well as considerable foreign assistance.

The National Bank of Tuvalu provides banking services. Approximately 65 percent of those officially employed work in the public sector. Tuvaluans’ remittances from Australia and New Zealand, as well as remittances from Tuvaluan sailors working on foreign ships, are significant sources of revenue for Tuvaluans. [165] [166] Around 15% of adult males work as sailors aboard foreign-flagged commercial ships. Tuvalu’s agriculture is centered on coconut palms and the cultivation of pulaka in vast pits of composted soil below the water table. Tuvaluans are mostly engaged in subsistence agriculture and fishing.

Tuvaluans are well-known for their nautical abilities, with the Tuvalu Maritime Educating Institute on Amatuku motu (island), Funafuti, training about 120 marine cadets each year to prepare them for work as merchant ship sailors. Tuvalu’s sole recognized trade union is the Tuvalu Overseas Seamen’s Union (TOSU). It is a union that represents employees aboard foreign ships. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), 800 Tuvaluan men are trained, certified, and working as seafarers. According to the ADB, about 15% of the adult male population works as sailors overseas at any one time. There are additional job possibilities as observers aboard tuna boats, where the duty is to check compliance with the boat’s tuna fishing license.

Government revenue is mostly derived from the selling of fishing permits, income from the Tuvalu Trust Fund, and the leasing of the country’s highly Internet Top Level Domain (TLD). Tuvalu started earning money through the usage of its area code for premium-rate telephone lines in 1998, as well as from the commercialization of its “.tv” Internet domain name, which is currently maintained by Verisign until 2021. The “.tv” domain name produces about $2.2 million in royalties each year, accounting for approximately 10% of the government’s overall income. In mid-2002, domain name revenue covered the majority of the expense of paving Funafuti’s streets and adding street lights. Tuvalu also earns money through stamps sold by the Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau and from the Tuvalu Ship Registry.

The United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand created the Tuvalu Trust Fund in 1987. The Tuvalu Trust Fund is worth about $100 million. Japan, South Korea, and the European Union also give financial assistance to Tuvalu. Australia and New Zealand continue to make financial contributions to the Tuvalu Trust Fund and offer other kinds of development support.

Tuvalu also gets a lot of money from the US government. The South Pacific Tuna Treaty (SPTT) payout was about $9 million in 1999, with the amount rising in subsequent years. Representatives from the United States and Pacific Island nations agreed in May 2013 to sign interim arrangement papers to prolong the Multilateral Fisheries Treaty (which includes the South Pacific Tuna Treaty) for an additional 18 months.

Tuvalu is classified as a least developed nation (LDC) by the United Nations due to its low economic development potential, lack of exploitable resources, small size, and susceptibility to external economic and environmental shocks. Tuvalu is a member of the World Trade Organization’s Enhanced Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance to Least Developed Countries (EIF), which was created in October 1997. Tuvalu postponed its transition from least developed nation (LDC) to developing country classification until 2015. According to Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga, the deferral is necessary to maintain Tuvalu’s access to funds provided by the United Nations’ National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA), because “once Tuvalu graduates to a developed country, it will not be considered for funding assistance for climate change adaptation programs like NAPA, which only goes to LDCs.” Tuvalu has fulfilled all of its goals, and the country was no longer classified as an LDC. Enele Sopoaga, Tuvalu’s Prime Minister, urges the United Nations to rethink the criteria for graduating from LDC classification since the Environmental Vulnerability Index does not give enough weight to the environmental predicament of tiny island nations like Tuvalu (EVI).

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