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Flag of Tuvalu
Map of Tuvalu
Introduction Tuvalu
In 1974, ethnic differences within the British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands caused the Polynesians of the Ellice Islands to vote for separation from the Micronesians of the Gilbert Islands. The following year, the Ellice Islands became the separate British colony of Tuvalu. Independence was granted in 1978. In 2000, Tuvalu negotiated a contract leasing its Internet domain name ".tv" for $50 million in royalties over the next dozen years.
Geography Tuvalu
Oceania, island group consisting of nine coral atolls in the South Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to Australia
Geographic coordinates:
8 00 S, 178 00 E
Map references:
total: 26 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 26 sq km
Area - comparative:
0.1 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
24 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
tropical; moderated by easterly trade winds (March to November); westerly gales and heavy rain (November to March)
very low-lying and narrow coral atolls
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location 5 m
Natural resources:
Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
NA sq km
Natural hazards:
severe tropical storms are usually rare, but, in 1997, there were three cyclones; low level of islands make them very sensitive to changes in sea level
Environment - current issues:
since there are no streams or rivers and groundwater is not potable, most water needs must be met by catchment systems with storage facilities (the Japanese Government has built one desalination plant and plans to build one other); beachhead erosion because of the use of sand for building materials; excessive clearance of forest undergrowth for use as fuel; damage to coral reefs from the spread of the Crown of Thorns starfish; Tuvalu is very concerned about global increases in greenhouse gas emissions and their effect on rising sea levels, which threaten the country's underground water table; in 2000, the government appealed to Australia and New Zealand to take in Tuvaluans if rising sea levels should make evacuation necessary
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: Biodiversity, Law of the Sea
Geography - note:
one of the smallest and most remote countries on Earth; six of the coral atolls - Nanumea, Nui, Vaitupu, Nukufetau, Funafuti, and Nukulaelae - have lagoons open to the ocean; Nanumaya and Niutao have landlocked lagoons; Niulakita does not have a lagoon
People Tuvalu
11,146 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 32.6% (male 1,851; female 1,785)
15-64 years: 62.3% (male 3,335; female 3,607)
65 years and over: 5.1% (male 233; female 335) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.4% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
21.44 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
7.45 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
22 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 66.98 years
female: 69.23 years (2002 est.)
male: 64.83 years
Total fertility rate:
3.07 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Tuvaluan(s)
adjective: Tuvaluan
Ethnic groups:
Polynesian 96%, Micronesian 4%
Church of Tuvalu (Congregationalist) 97%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1.4%, Baha'i 1%, other 0.6%
Tuvaluan, English, Samoan, Kiribati (on the island of Nui)
definition: percentage of people over the age of 15 who can read and write
total population: 55% (1996)
male: NA%
female: NA%
Government Tuvalu
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Tuvalu
note: "Tuvalu" means "group of eight," referring to the country's eight traditionally inhabited islands
former: Ellice Islands
Government type:
constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy; began debating republic status in 1992
Administrative divisions:
1 October 1978 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 1 October (1978)
1 October 1978
Legal system:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Governor General Sir Tomasi PUAPUA, M.D. (since 26 June 1998)
elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister; prime minister and deputy prime minister elected by and from the members of Parliament; election last held 2 August 2002 (next to be held NA)
election results: Saufatu SOPOANGA elected prime minister; Parliamentary vote - Saufatu SOPOANGA 8, Amasone KILEI 7
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor general on the recommendation of the prime minister
head of government: Prime Minister Saufatu SOPOANGA (since 2 August 2002)
Legislative branch:
unicameral Parliament or Fale I Fono, also called House of Assembly (15 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 25 July 2002 (next to be held NA 2006)
election results: percent of vote - NA%; seats - independents 15
Judicial branch:
High Court (a chief justice visits twice a year to preside over its sessions; its rulings can be appealed to the Court of Appeal in Fiji); eight Island Courts (with limited jurisdiction)
Political parties and leaders:
there are no political parties but members of Parliament usually align themselves in informal groupings
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
ACP, AsDB, C, ESCAP, IFRCS (associate), ITU, Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WTrO (applicant)
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Tuvalu does not have an embassy in the US - the country's only diplomatic post is in Fiji - Tuvalu does, however, have a UN office located at 800 2nd Avenue, Suite 400D, New York, New York 10017, telephone: [1] (212) 490-0534
Diplomatic representation from the US:
the US does not have an embassy in Tuvalu; the US ambassador to Fiji is accredited to Tuvalu
Flag description:
light blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant; the outer half of the flag represents a map of the country with nine yellow five-pointed stars symbolizing the nine islands
Economy Tuvalu
Economy - overview:
Tuvalu consists of a densely populated, scattered group of nine coral atolls with poor soil. The country has no known mineral resources and few exports. Subsistence farming and fishing are the primary economic activities. Fewer than 1,000 tourists, on average, visit Tuvalu 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, NZ, and the UK 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 in 2000, from the lease of its ".tv" Internet domain name. Royalties from these new technology sources could raise GDP substantially over the next decade. With merchandise exports only a fraction of merchandise imports, continued reliance must be placed on fishing and telecommunications license fees, remittances from overseas workers, official transfers, and investment income from overseas assets.
purchasing power parity - $12.2 million (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
3% (2000 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $1,100 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
5% (2000 est.)
Labor force:
7,000 (2001 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
people make a living mainly through exploitation of the sea, reefs, and atolls and from wages sent home by those abroad (mostly workers in the phosphate industry and sailors)
Unemployment rate:
revenues: $22.5 million
expenditures: $11.2 million, including capital expenditures of $4.2 million (2000 est.)
fishing, tourism, copra
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: NA%
hydro: NA%
nuclear: NA%
other: NA%
Agriculture - products:
coconuts; fish
$276,000 f.o.b. (1997)
Exports - commodities:
copra, fish
Exports - partners:
Sweden, Fiji, Iceland, Germany, Greece (2000)
$7.2 million c.i.f. (1998)
Imports - commodities:
food, animals, mineral fuels, machinery, manufactured goods
Imports - partners:
Fiji, Australia, Portugal, NZ (2000)
Debt - external:
Economic aid - recipient:
$13 million (1999 est.); note - major donors are Japan, Australia, and the US (1999 est.)
Australian dollar (AUD); note - there is also a Tuvaluan dollar
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Tuvaluan dollars or Australian dollars per US dollar - 1.9354 (January 2002), 1.9320 (2001), 1.7173 (2000), 1.5497 (1999), 1.5888 (1998), 1.3439 (1997)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Tuvalu
Telephones - main lines in use:
1,000 (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
0 (1994)
Telephone system:
general assessment: serves particular needs for internal communications
domestic: radiotelephone communications between islands
international: NA
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 0, shortwave 0 (1999)
4,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
0 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2000)
Internet users:
Transportation Tuvalu
0 km
total: 19.5 km
paved: 0 km
unpaved: 19.5 km (2002)
Ports and harbors:
Funafuti, Nukufetau
Merchant marine:
total: 5 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 31,021 GRT/52,198 DWT
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Germany 5 (2002 est.)
ships by type: cargo 3, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 1
1 (2001)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2002)
Military Tuvalu
Military branches:
no regular military forces; Police Force (includes Maritime Surveillance Unit for search and rescue missions and surveillance operations)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Transnational Issues Tuvalu
Disputes - international:

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003