What Is The Ethnic Composition Of Tuvalu?

Tuvaluans ride their bikes bask the Tuvalu government building. Editorial credit: maloff / Shutterstock.com.
Tuvaluans ride their bikes bask the Tuvalu government building. Editorial credit: maloff / Shutterstock.com.

Tuvalu is a country in Polynesia. Some of the nearest countries and islands include Australia, Hawaii, Nauru, Kiribati, Samoa, and Fiji. Tuvalu is made up of 3 reefs and 6 atolls. According to the census of 2012, Tuvalu had a population of 10,650 people inhabiting the island nation which spans an area of 10 square miles. The earliest inhabitants of Tuvalu were the Polynesians who migrated to the island in about 3,000 years ago. It is believed that the settlement spread throughout Polynesia starting from Samoa and Tonga, and finally to Tuvalu. It is believed that Tuvalu was a stepping stone for further migration to Polynesian outliers, Melanesia, and Micronesia.


Tuvaluans are Polynesians who account for 86.8% of the country's population. They are estimated to be more than 13,000 Tuvaluan speakers around the world. In 2015, they were approximately 3,500 Tuvaluans living in New Zealand, and about half of them were born in New Zealand. About 65% of the Tuvaluan community living in New Zealand speaks the Tuvaluan language. The Tuvaluan language is one of the Ellicean groups of languages spoken in Tuvalu and belongs to the Polynesian family of languages. The language is distantly related to other Polynesian languages like Tongan, Samoan, Tahitian, Maori, and Hawaiian. The Tuvaluan language is also believed to be closely related to languages spoken in Polynesian outliers in Central and North Melanesia, and Micronesia.

Tuvaluan people are Polynesians who are ethnolinguistic community native to the Polynesian triangle region. Their origin is traced to the islands in Southeast Asia, and they belong to the larger Austronesian linguistic group which originated from Taiwan. About 2 million people worldwide are fully or partially of Polynesian ethnic group, and the majority of them inhabit the Polynesian countries of Tuvalu, Tonga, Cook Island, Niue, and Samoa. The Polynesian people share the same origin as the indigenous people of Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Madagascar, and Micronesia. They are believed to have migrated out of Taiwan between 3000 and 1000 BC, and they the first humans to cross vast oceans using traditional boats.


Micronesians in Tuvalu account for a small portion of the population, which is estimated to be about 4% of the total population in the country. Micronesians are people who inhabit the Micronesian islands that include Kiribati Marianas Nauru, Palau, Marshalls Island, and the Federated States of Micronesia. The Micronesian people in Kiribati are known as I-Kiribati. The Kiribati language is spoken by about 99% of the people in Kiribati and also spoken in other islands such as the Marshall Islands, Fiji, and Tuvalu. Approximately 870 people in Tuvalu speak the Kiribati (Gilbertese) language. 

Effects of Climate Change

Climate change as a result of global warming could have a disastrous effect on the island nation of Tuvalu. The average elevation of Tuvalu is less than 6.6 feet above the sea level with the highest elevation being Niulakita, which is just 15 feet high above the sea level. Tuvalu is likely to be the first country to experience the worst effects of the rising sea levels because parts of the island could be flooded by the rising saltwater level which has the potential to destroy deep-rooted crops such as taro, pulaka, and coconut. According to the researchers from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, they have suggested that Tuvalu may remain habitable for the next hundred years. It has been suggested that the only solution is to relocate all the people on the island.

What Is The Ethnic Composition Of Tuvalu?

RankEthnicity% of total population

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