Flag of Tuvalu.svg Coat of arms of Tuvalu.svg
Motto"Tuvalu for the Almighty"
AnthemTuvalu for the Almighty
(and largest city)
Official languages Tuvaluan, English
Demonym Tuvaluan
Government Parliamentary, representative democracy, Associate State of The ANZC
 -  Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia
Associate State
 -  with the Australian New Zealand Commonwealth 1 October 1995 
 -  Total 26 km2 
10 sq mi 
 -  July 2009 estimate 12,373 

Early history

Tuvalu is thought to have been visited by Tongans in the mid-13th century, although it is uncertain whether they settled permanently. It was, however, 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 while on an expedition to find the mythical land of Terra Australis. In 1819, Captain Arent de Peyster (or Peyter), while on a voyage from Valparaíso to India, discovered the atoll of Funafuti, where the capital is now located, a cluster of about fourteen low islands and sand keys. He named the cluster "Ellice's Group," after Edward Ellice, a British Member of Parliament who provided De Peyster with his ship "Rebecca." The next morning, De Peyster discovered another group of about seventeen low islands forty-three miles northwest of Funafuti, naming this group "De Peyster's Islands." It is the first name, however, that was eventually used for the whole island group.

In 1841, the U.S. Exploring Expedition commanded by Charles Wilkes visited three of Tuvalu's islands and welcomed visitors to his ships. Other early interactions with the outside world were far less being 1863, hundreds of people from the southern islands were kidnapped when they were lured aboard slave ships with promises that they would be taught about Christianity.Those islanders were forced to work under horrific conditions in the guano mines of Peru.

United Kingdom protectorate

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 as part of a protectorate (1892–1916) and as part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony.

During World War II, several thousand U.S. troops were in the islands. Beginning in October 1942, U.S. forces built air bases on the islands of Funafuti, Nanumea, and Nukufetau. Friendly cooperation was the hallmark of relations between the local people and the troops, mainly U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy SeaBees. The airstrip in the capital of Funafuti, originally built by the U.S. during the war, is still in use, as is the "American Passage" that was blasted through Nanumea's reef by SeaBees assisted by local divers.

In 1974 the Ellice Islanders voted for separate British dependency status as Tuvalu, separating from the Gilbert Islands which became Kiribati upon independence.

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.


Tuvalu was not a target on Doomsday but like almost every place on the planet it was effected by the aftermath. Their 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, water and other necessities as best they could but it soon became clear that Tuvalu would need more. In 1987 they signed a treaty to become an associate state of Australia. In 1995 when the Australian New Zealand Commonwealth was formed the treaty was modified so they became an associate state of the full ANZC.

Modern Times

Today Tuvalu is sustained as a viable island by fishing and jobs within the government. The ANZC has 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.


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.



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:

  • Funafuti
  • Nanumea
  • Nui (atoll)
  • Nukufeta]
  • Nukulaelae
  • Vaitupu

Local government districts consisting of only one island:

  • Nanumanga
  • Niulakita
  • Niutao


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 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.


Education in Tuvalu is free of charge and compulsory for people between the ages of six and 17 years.


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.

See also

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.