island sovereign state in Oceania

Tuvalu is a small island country in the Pacific Ocean.[5] In the past, it was the Ellice Islands. It was part of Gilbert and Ellice Islands with Kiribati. It is a monarchy.

Coat of arms of Tuvalu
Coat of arms
Motto: "Tuvalu mo te Atua" (Tuvaluan)
"Tuvalu for the Almighty"
Anthem: Tuvalu mo te Atua (Tuvaluan)
Tuvalu for the Almighty
Location of Tuvalu
and largest city
8°31′S 179°12′E / 8.517°S 179.200°E / -8.517; 179.200
Official languagesEnglish
Recognised national languagesTuvaluan
Ethnic groups
Christianity (Church of Tuvalu)[1]
GovernmentUnitary non-partisan parliamentary constitutional monarchy
• Monarch
Charles III
Tofiga Vaevalu Falani
Feleti Teo[2]
• from the United Kingdom
1 October 1978
• Total
26 km2 (10 sq mi)[3] (191st)
• Water (%)
• 2019 estimate
11,646 (229th)
• 2017 census
• Density
475.88/km2 (1,232.5/sq mi) (27th)
GDP (PPP)2016 estimate
• Total
$39 million[4] (226th)
• Per capita
$3,566[4] (156th)
GDP (nominal)2020 estimate
• Total
$45 million[4] (194th)
• Per capita
$2,970[4] (118th)
Currency (AUD)
Time zoneUTC+12
Driving sideleft
Calling code+688
ISO 3166 codeTV
Internet TLD.tv

Tuvalu is getting smaller. If the sea level keeps rising at the same rate, this country will be covered by water in about 50 years.[6]

The most important languages spoken in Tuvalu are Tuvaluan and English.[5]

The United States and Tuvalu signed a treaty of friendship in 1979, when the US gave up their claim to Tuvalu for the islands of Funafuti, Nukefetau, Nukulaelae, and Nurakita.





Before the Europeans showed up, a lot of people rode canoes between the nearer islands. These include Samoa and Tonga.[7] Eight of the nine islands of Tuvalu had people on them. This explains the origin of the name Tuvalu, which means "eight standing together" in Tuvaluan. Possible evidence of man-made fires in the Caves of Nanumanga says that humans may have been there for thousands of years.

An important creation myth in Tuvalu is the story of te Pusi mo te Ali (the Eel and the Flounder), who are said to have created the islands of Tuvalu. Te Ali (the flounder) is believed to have made the flat atolls of Tuvalu and te Pusi (the eel) is the model for the coconut palms that are important to Tuvaluans. The stories of the ancestors of the Tuvaluans change from island to island. On Niutao,[8] Funafuti and Vaitupu, the founding ancestor is said to be from Samoa.[9][10] On Nanumea, the founding ancestor is said to be from Tonga.[9]

Early contacts with other cultures

A Tuvaluan man in traditional clothing drawn by Alfred Agate in 1841, during the United States Exploring Expedition.[11]

Tuvalu was first seen by Europeans on 16 January 1568, during the voyage of Álvaro de Mendaña from Spain. He sailed past Nui and named it Isla de Jesús (Spanish for "Island of Jesus") because the day before was the feast of the Holy Name. Mendaña talked to the islanders but could not land.[12][13] During Mendaña's second voyage across the Pacific, he passed Niulakita on 29 August 1595, which he named La Solitaria.[13][14]

Colonial administration

Stamps of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands with portraits of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II

The Ellice Islands were administered as a British protectorate from 1892 to 1916, as part of the British Western Pacific Territories (BWPT), by a Resident Commissioner based in the Gilbert Islands. The administration of the BWTP ended in 1916, and the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony was established, which existed until October 1975.

During World War II, the Ellice Islands were aligned with the Allies. The Japanese invaded and occupied Makin, Tarawa, and other islands in what is now Kiribati. The United States Marine Corps landed on Funafuti on 2 October 1942.[15] Funafuti was later used as a base to prepare naval attacks on the Gilbert Islands that were occupied by Japanese forces.[16]

Modern history


In 1974, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands were given a ministerial government. In that year a general election was held,[17] and a referendum was held to decide whether the Gilbert Islands and Ellice Islands should have separate governments.[18] After the referendum, separation happened in two stages. The Tuvaluan Order 1975, which took effect on 1 October 1975, recognised Tuvalu as a separate British dependency with its own government.[19] The second stage happened on 1 January 1976, when separate governments were created out of the civil service of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony.[20]: 169 [21]

Toaripi Lauti became the first Prime Minister on 1 October 1978, when Tuvalu became independent.[22][20]: 153–177  That date is also celebrated as the country's Independence Day and is a public holiday.[23] On 5 September 2000, Tuvalu became the 189th member of the United Nations.[24]

On 15 November 2022, Tuvalu announced that it will become the first country in the world to build a replica of itself in the metaverse. The country wants to preserve its cultural heritage by doing this.[25]


A beach at Funafuti atoll on a sunny day.

Tuvalu has four reef islands and five true atolls. The atolls have only 26 km of land. Tuvalu is the fourth smallest country in the world. The land is very low lying and the coral atolls are narrow. Funafuti is the largest atoll of the islands and atolls. It has many islets around a central lagoon. This is about 25.1 kilometres (15.6 mi) (N–S) by 18.4 kilometres (11.4 mi) (W-E), centered on 179°7’E and 8°30’S.

The islands and atolls are:

The highest height is 4.5 metres (15 ft) above sea level,[26] which gives Tuvalu the second-lowest highest elevation of any country (after the Maldives). Because of this, the islands that make up Tuvalu are threatened by any sea level rise. If this happens, the people will have to go to New Zealand, Niue or the Fijian island of Kioa. Tuvalu is also affected by what is known as a king tide, which can raise the sea level higher than a normal high tide.[27]


Government headquarters in Funafuti

Tuvalu is a Commonwealth realm, meaning that King Charles III of the United Kingdom is also the King of Tuvalu. The Governor-General of Tuvalu is the King's personal representative.

The legislature of Tuvalu is the Parliament of Tuvalu. There are no political parties in Tuvalu. The Prime Minister of Tuvalu is the head of government and is a member of parliament who is elected to the position by the other members.


  1. "2010 Report on International Religious Freedom – Tuvalu", United States Department of State
  2. "Tuvalu parliament picks new PM in potential blow for Taiwan". www.aljazeera.com.
  3. "Population by sex, annual rate of population increase, surface area and density" (PDF). United Nations. 2012.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Tuvalu". International Monetary Fund.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Tuvalu". Central Intelligence Agency - The World Factbook. Archived from the original on 2016-07-01. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  6. Roy, Eleanor Ainge; Gallagher, Sean (2019-05-16). "'One day we'll disappear': Tuvalu's sinking islands | Eleanor Ainge Roy". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2021-01-02.
  7. Howe, Kerry (2003). The Quest for Origins. New Zealand: Penguin. pp. 68, 70. ISBN 0-14-301857-4.
  8. Sogivalu, Pulekau A. (1992). A Brief History of Niutao. Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific. ISBN 982-02-0058-X.
  9. 9.0 9.1 O'Brien, Talakatoa in Tuvalu: A History, Chapter 1, Genesis
  10. Kennedy, Donald G. (1929). "Field Notes on the Culture of Vaitupu, Ellice Islands". Journal of the Polynesian Society. 38: 2–5. Archived from the original on 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2023-07-13.
  11. Stanton, William (1975). The Great United States Exploring Expedition. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 240. ISBN 0520025571.
  12. Maude, H.E. "Spanish discoveries in the Central Pacific. A study in identification", in Journal of the Polynesian Society, Wellington, LXVIII, (1959), pp.299,303.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Maude, H.E. (1959). "Spanish Discoveries in the Central Pacific: A Study in Identification". Journal of the Polynesian Society. 68 (4): 284–326. Archived from the original on 2018-02-10. Retrieved 2023-07-13.
  14. Chambers, Keith S. & Munro, Doug (1980). "The Mystery of Gran Cocal: European Discovery and Mis-Discovery in Tuvalu". Journal of the Polynesian Society. 89 (2): 167–198. Archived from the original on 2018-12-15. Retrieved 2023-07-13.
  15. "Tuvalu (Ellice Islands)". Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  16. McQuarrie, Peter (1994). Strategic atolls: Tuvalu and the Second World War. Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury/ Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific. ISBN 0958330050.
  17. General election, 1974: report / Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony. Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony. Tarawa: Central Government Office. 1974.
  18. Nohlen, D, Grotz, F & Hartmann, C (2001) Elections in Asia: A data handbook, Volume II, p831 ISBN 0-19-924959-8
  19. "Ellice goes it alone on October 1". 46(5) Pacific Islands Monthly. 1 May 1975. Retrieved 2 October 2021.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Isala, Tito (1983). "Chapter 20, Secession and Independence". In Laracy), Hugh (ed.). Tuvalu: A History. University of the South Pacific/Government of Tuvalu.
  21. McIntyre, W. David (2012). "The Partition of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands" (PDF). Island Studies Journal. 7 (1): 135–146. doi:10.24043/isj.266. S2CID 130336446. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 December 2017. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  22. Sapoaga, Enele (1983). "Chapter 19, Post-War Development". In Laracy, Hugh (ed.). Tuvalu: A History. University of the South Pacific/Government of Tuvalu. pp. 146–152.
  23. Cabinet, Department of the Premier and (1 July 2019). "Independence Day – Tuvalu". Government of South Australia, Department of the Premier and Cabinet. Retrieved 29 September 2020.[permanent dead link]
  24. "BBC News | ASIA-PACIFIC | Tiny Tuvalu joins UN". news.bbc.co.uk.
  25. Srinivasan, Prianka (16 November 2022). "Tuvalu to create a digital replica of country as it faces impacts of climate change". Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  26. Lewis, James (December 1989). "Sea level rise: Some implications for Tuvalu". The Environmentalist. 9 (4): 269–275. doi:10.1007/BF02241827. S2CID 84796023.[permanent dead link]
  27. "Tuvalu struggles to hold back tide". BBC News. 2008-01-22. Retrieved 2008-08-05.