|Motto: "Tuvalu for the Almighty"|
|Anthem: Tuvalu for the Almighty
(and largest city)
|Official languages||Tuvaluan, English|
|Government||Parliamentary, representative democracy, constitutional monarchy|
|-||Prime Minister||Apisai Ielemia|
|-||with the Australian New Zealand Commonwealth||1 October 1995|
|-||Total|| 26 km2
10 sq mi
|-||July 2009 estimate||12,373|
Tuvalu was settled around 1000 BCE as part of the great expansion of the Polynesian peoples. The name means "Eight Standing Together," after the eight inhabited atolls. Tuvalu may have come under the rule of Samoa in the 10th century and Tonga in the 13th, which is preserved in the islands' oral traditions. It was within Tonga's sphere of influence, and there were regular contacts between the two island groups.
The Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña y Neyra spotted the small island of Nui in what is now Tuvalu in 1568. In 1819, Captain Arent de Peyster discovered the atoll of Funafuti, naming it "Ellice's Group," after Edward Ellice, a British Member of Parliament who provided De Peyster with his ship Rebecca. The name was eventually used for the whole island group.
In 1863, hundreds of people were kidnapped, lured aboard "blackbirder" slave ships with promises that they would be taught about Christianity. They were forced to work under horrific conditions in the guano mines of Peru.
Eventually, the islands came under the United Kingdom's sphere of influence as the Pacific was divided up in the late 19th century. The Ellice Islands were administered by the United Kingdom, first as a protectorate (1892–1916), then joined with Kiribati as the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony.
During World War II, several thousand U.S. troops were in the islands. In 1974 the Ellice Islanders voted for separate British dependency status under the name Tuvalu. Tuvalu became fully independent in 1978 and in 1979 signed a treaty of friendship with the United States, which recognized Tuvalu's possession of four small islands formerly claimed by the United States.
Doomsday and Recovery
Tuvalu was not a target on Doomsday but like almost every place on the planet it was effected by the aftermath. Its allies in the United States and Britain had both been severely crippled by nuclear attacks and all communication was lost. Tuvalu however, due to close proximity was able to maintain communications with Australia.
With most of the well paying jobs found in the Government pre Doomsday and their main trading partner the United States was destroyed, Tuvalu quickly sought aid from Australia. Australia sent food, medical supplies, and other necessities as best they could, but Tuvalu was very isolated for many years after the attacks. Partly to secure more regular support, in 1987 the country signed a treaty to become an associated state of Australia. In 1995 when the Australia-New Zealand Commonwealth was formed, it became an associate state of the full ANZC.
Tuvalu was sustained as a viable island by fishing and jobs within the government. The ANZC set up a naval base and academy on Nui Atoll, which has led to a significant portion of the islands' youth joining the ANZC navy.
Rising sea level
But even as the world recovered, the threat facing Tuvalu was more dire than ever. Doomsday had caused a noticeable and durable increase in global temperatures. Years of warming were beginning to melt the Earth's ice caps, and the sea was rising, slowly but steadily. Tuvaluans had to reckon with the idea that their home might be submerged. The country's membership in the ANZC bloc and, from 2015, the Oceanic Organisation, gave it an outsized voice in world affairs for its size. It used its platform to argue for policies that might reverse the warming, especially clean energy. Tuvalu's very survival may depend on the rest of the world taking action on this.
The Council on Geoscience and Ecology (formerly of the South Pacific Commission and Forum, now of the OO) began to provide aid to help Tuvalu mitigate some of these effects. It also helped to draw up plans for a total evacuation of the country in case the worst should happen. New Zealand would take the bulk of the refugees, with Niue and Fiji taking a few. But what would happen to the country itself? Tuvaluans continue to work to prevent this from happening.
The 2010 Pacific tour of Andrew Windsor generated considerable interest in Tuvalu. Unlike some other Pacific nations, Tuvalu had always considered the British to have formed an important basis for the country's unity: before them, each island had been independent. Elders in the Falekaupule began to argue for restoring links to the Crown, now exiled in South Africa, as an expression of Tuvaluan national identity. In 2011 the Yukon's Territorial Assembly voted to restore the Crown, the first ANZ-associated state to take that step. Tuvalu's parliament voted to follow suit in mid-2012.
However, before the decision could be ratified by referendum, the Dominion of South Africa invaded KwaXhosa, sparking international outrage. The ANZ high commissioner in Tuvalu asked that the country delay any action regarding the monarchy. The war was the responsibility of the Dominion government, not the king himself, but honoring him in this way might complicate efforts to impose sanctions or otherwise criticize the war. Since ANZ was largely responsible for Tuvaluan foreign affairs, this request was honored and the decision allowed to lapse.
By 2015, the government that had waged the war was out of power and southern Africa was enjoying a period of relative peace. That year, Andrew himself was killed in a plane crash, succeeded by his son William V. This seemed a good moment for Tuvalu to return to its earlier decision. The voters chose to become a Commonwealth Realm once again in 2016, the second nation in the ANZ bloc to do so. The country sent William a gift of chiefly regalia, and he nominated as his viceregal representative a local chief from Nanumea, Tofiga Paitela.
Tuvalu has a unicameral parliament, or "Fale I Fono", has 20 members and is elected every Two years. Its members select a Prime Minister who is the head of government. The Cabinet is appointed by the Prime Minister. Each island also has its own high-chief or ulu-aliki, and several sub-chiefs (alikis) and elders. The elders form together an island council of elders or te sina o fenua (literally:"grey-hairs"). In the past, another caste, namely the one of the priests (tofuga) was also amongst the decision-makers. The sina o fenua, aliki and ulu-aliki exercise informal authority on a local level. Ulu-aliki are always chosen based on ancestry, and their powers are now shared with the pule o kaupule (elected village presidents; one on each atoll). There are no formal political parties and election campaigns are largely on the basis of personal/family ties, reputation and the sense of unity felt after doomsday.
The king, who primarily lives in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, acts as the head of state. He is represented by a governor-general.
Education in Tuvalu is free of charge and compulsory for people between the ages of six and 17 years.
Tuvalu consists of four reef islands and five true atolls. Its small, scattered group of atolls has poor soil and a total land area of only about 26 sq km (less than ten sq. mi.) making it the fourth smallest country in the world. The land is very low lying with narrow coral atolls. Funafuti is the largest atoll of the nine low reef islands and atolls that form the Tuvalu volcanic island chain. It comprises numerous islets around a central lagoon that is approximately 25.1 km. An annular reef rim surrounds the lagoon, with several natural reef channels.
Tuvalu has the second-lowest maximum elevation of any country. Because of this low elevation, the islands that make up this nation may be threatened by any future sea level rise. Under such circumstances, the population may evacuate to New Zealand, Niue or the Fijian island of Kioa. Additionally, Tuvalu is affected by what is known as a king tide, which can raise the sea level higher than a normal high tide. In the future, this may threaten to submerge the nation entirely. Tuvalu has very poor land and the soil is hardly usable for agriculture. There is almost no reliable supply of drinking water. July 2009 Tuvalu has westerly gales and heavy rain from November to March and tropical temperatures moderated by easterly winds from March to November.
Tuvalu's small population is distributed across nine islands, five of which are atolls. The smallest island, Niulakita, was uninhabited until it was resettled by people from Niutao in 1949.
Local government districts consisting of more than one islet:
- Nui (atoll)
Local government districts consisting of only one island:
Tuvalu has almost no natural resources, and its main form of income consists of foreign aid. Virtually the only jobs in the islands that pay a steady wage or salary are with the government. Subsistence farming and fishing remain the primary economic activities, particularly off the capital island of Funafuti. Government revenues largely come from the sale of stamps and coins, fishing licences and worker remittances.
About 800 Tuvaluans previously worked in Nauru in the phosphate mining industry or aboard foreign ships as sailors. When phosphate mining ceased in Nauru, 378 Tuvaluans were stranded in the country until they were repatriated in 2006 by a joint program in which ANZC paid most of the cost of their return passage. Substantial income is received annually from the Tuvalu Trust Fund, which was established in 1996 by ANZC. This fund grew from an initial $17 million to over $35 million in 1999. Tourism does not provide much income; a hundred tourists are estimated to visit Tuvalu annually. Almost all visitors are government officials, aid workers, non-governmental organization officials or consultants.
Transport services in Tuvalu are limited. There are about eight km of roads. The streets of Funafuti were paved and lit in mid-2005, and other roads are unpaved. Tuvalu is among a few countries that do not have railroads. Funafuti is the only port, there is also a deep-water berth in the harbour at Nukufetau. As of 1999, the merchant marine fleet consists of four ships. This includes two cargo ships and one passenger/cargo ship. A ferry runs between the main atolls.The only airport is Funafuti International Airport; it is a tarred strip.
Despite the aftermath of Doomsday, the traditional community system still survives to a large extent 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. Most islands have their own fusi, or government owned shops. Similar to a convenience store, where people can buy canned foods and bags of rice, but goods are cheaper and fusis give better prices for their own goods because of government subsidy. Another important building is the "falekaupule" or village hall, where important matters are discussed.