Formerly called the Ellice Islands, Tuvalu consists of 5 low-lying coral atolls, 4 islands, and more than 100 islets, all spread over a very large area.
These isolated spots of land, the above water tips of undersea mountains, are famed for their beautiful lagoons, reefs, fabulous fishing, and collectible postage stamps.
The Polynesians first settled the land now called Tuvalu some 2,000 ago. Arrivals included those from Samoa, Tonga and Kiribati.
The Spanish explorer Mendana reportedly sighted the islands in 1568. The first Europeans arrived in the early 19th century, and the islands changed forever. In fact, some islanders were subsequently enslaved and forced to work.
In 1892 the British convinced the islanders to join the Gilbert Islands protectorate; later to be called the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony.
Almost fifty years later, during World War II, the U.S. used the islands as a military base to combat Japanese invasions in the Pacific.
In the mid 1970s the islands seceded from the Gilbert Ellise Colony, officially changing their collective name to Tuvalu, and became an independent nation. Its government remains a part of the British Commonwealth as a parliamentary democracy.
The economy of Tuvalu is agricultural based, and though an ideal venue for tourism, the islands are yet to fully develop that industry.
The only airport is located on the Funafuti Atoll, and transportation between islands is by boat.
For additional information regarding the history of Tuvalu, go here.
Facts and Figures
- Official Name Tuvalu
- Population 11,810
- Capital Funafuti Atoll (4,492) - Note: The largest island within the Funafuti Atoll is Fongafale, and it is occasionally referred to as the capital as government administration buildings are located there.
- Flag here
- Languages Tuvaluan, English, others
- Official Currency Australian Dollar
- Currency Converter here
- Religions Church of Tuvalu
- Land Area 26 sq km (10 sq miles)
- Latitude/Longitude 8º 52' S, 179º 19' E
- Highest Point 16 ft. (5 m) unnamed
- Tuvalu Large Color Map here
- Tuvalu Map CIA version here
- Tuvalu Outline Map here
- Tuvalu Maps at UT here
- Oceania Maps here
PASSPORTS - TRAVEL VISAS
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ClimateWeather is warm and somewhat humid throughout most of the year, with a average daily high temperature right at 85º.
Rain falls throughout the year, with heaviest accumulations November through April. Tuvalu is also subject to seasonal hurricanes during the rainy season.
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